The United Nations Organizations (United Nations=UN) was founded after the World War II. Its principal activities comprise among others the fight against poverty and for peace, security and prosperity in the world. The organization is the successor of the League of Nations which had been founded after the World War I but which was facing from the very beginning problems concerning asserting its influence and which failed to prevent the outbreak of the World War II.
The United Nations Organizations started its activities on 24 October 1945 after the adoption of the UN Charter proposed at the conference in San Francisco which had been held half a year ago. The UN Charter was drafted by representatives of 50 countries who took part in the conference in San Francisco from 25 April to 26 June 1945. The representatives of these countries, including Czechoslovakia, signed the UN Charter on 26 June 18945. The fifty-first founder member became Poland which did not attend the conference; nevertheless it signed the Charter later.
Currently the UN has 192 member states and employs 40 thousand people. The official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The organization has its headquarters in New York City.
By the UN Charter six principal organs of the UN were established the general Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the UN Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. In addition, the UN has 15 agencies and number of programmes, funds and councils.
The head of the United Nations and its diplomatic representative is the Secretary-General. The term of the office of the Secretary General is five years and there is no limit as far as repeated elections are concerned. The South-Korean Pan Ki-mun has been the UN Secretary-General since 2007. His predecessors were Kofi Annan (Ghana) 1997-2006, Butrus-Ghálí (Egypt) 1992-1996, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru) 1982-1991, Kurt Waldheim (Austria) 1972-1981, U Thant (Burma) 1962-1971, Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden) 1953-1961 and Trygve Lie (Norway) 1946-1952.
The first session of the General Assembly was held in London on 10 January 1946. The General Assembly is headed by the President of the UN General Assembly and by 21 Vice-Presidents. Other bodies of the General Assembly are committees and commissions. The most important ones are the Disarmament and International Security Committee, the Economic and Financial Committee, the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, the Administrative and Budgetary Committee and the Legal Committee.
The President, Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly and chairmen of these committees form so-called General Committee. The General Assembly debates all the issues related to the UN Charter.
Common issues are decided by majority of those present and voting (e.g. the programme of a session); in case of voting on important issues (admission of new members) two-thirds majority of those present and voting is required. In case of the vote of judges of the International Court of Justice, the majority of all members is required and for an amendment to the UN Charter two-thirds majority of all members is necessary. Political issues are adopted following a consensus of all member states.
The General Assembly meets on regular annual sessions; nevertheless in case of need special sessions may be convoked. Each member state has one vote. The General Assembly deals with reports of other UN bodies and adopts recommendations accordingly. It also elects by vote members of the Security Council, Economic and Social Council and, if required, also additional members of the Trusteeship Council. Together with the Security Council, it also votes judges of the International Court of Justice. Based on the recommendation of the UN Security Council, it appoints the UN Secretary-General.
Other bodies of the General Assembly are for example the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Development Programme or the United nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The UN Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and security among countries. Its powers include the dispatch of observers and peacekeeping operations, and the authorization of military actions. The Security Council also recommends the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and admission of new members; together with the General Assembly it votes judges of the UN International Court of Justice. The Security Council must to operate continuously; representatives of all members are constantly present at the UN headquarters.
The UN Security Council has five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and ten elected non-permanent members (five of them are elected every year) with two-year terms. Votes of permanent and non-permanent states are equal, however only permanent members have veto power. Presidency of the Security Council rotates monthly in alphabetical order of the Council's member states.
The UN Security Council established for example the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; it also controls peace missions and cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The UN Trusteeship Council is made up of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The council supervises the administration of eleven territories that fall down under the trusteeship system and to prepare them for autonomy or independence. The independence had been reached by all territories by 1994; the last country was the Palau Republic in the Pacific.
The Economic and Social Council deals with economic and social issues and formulates recommendations for the individual countries and the entire United Nations Organization.
The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges who are elected separately by the General Assembly and by the Security Council. Their term of office is nine years and they can be re-elected.
The Secretariat has 7500 officers from various countries of the world who provide service for the other bodies of the United Nations and administer their programmes.
Other organs, funds and programmes of the United Nations are for example the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) or the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
The Czech Republic and United Nations
Due to the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic at the end of 1992, both successor states had to ask for admission to the United Nations. The admission process ended as on 19 January 1993 and the Czech Republic was admitted as a new member of the United Nations Organization. Peaks of the past activities of the Czech Republic were the Czech Republic's membership in the UN Security Council in 1994-1995 and the presidency of the 57th session of the General Assembly in 2002 and 2003.
The Czech Republic was elected a member of the UN Security Council in 1993 which means immediately in the first year of its UN membership. In the given period the Security Council regularly dealt with about twenty conflicts in the world; the Czech delegation focused its activities mainly on the situation in the former Yugoslavia, in Iraq, Libya, Georgia, Rwanda and Burundi.
In the above-mentioned period the Czech Republic presided over the Security Council twice (in January 1994 and in April 1995). Throughout the two years the Czech Republic presided over the UN Security Council Libya Sanctions Committee. It was also involved in activities of other sanctions committees and primarily focused on issues that were debated in Yugoslavia and Iraq sanctions committees.
The Czech Republic was elected for the first time to the Economic and Social Council for the period 1996-1998. As early as in the first year of its term, its representative became one of four vice-chairmen of the Economic and Social Council. In 1997 the Czech Republic successfully presided over the Council. In autumn 1998 the Czech Republic was at the 53rd session of the General Assembly re-elected in the Economic and Social Council for 1999-2001 and after five years for the period 2006-2008.
Presidency of the 57th General Assembly
The Czech Republic was holding a very important role as the presiding country of the UN 57th General Assembly. Jan Kavan was elected the President of the UN General Assembly on 8 July 2002 and was holding this post from 10 September 2002 to 15 September 2003.
The Czech presidency included among its main priorities the fight against terrorism, conflict prevention, follow-up activities of the Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit for Sustainable Development, strengthening cooperation of the United Nations with partner organizations (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization), private sector and civil society, and promotion of United Nation reforms.
Participation of the Czech Republic in UN Peace Operations
The Czech Republic has continued the active policy of former Czechoslovakia relating to the dispatch of its soldiers to peace mission, peace operations as well as UN specialized commissions since January 2003. Czechoslovakia became to be involved in the activities of so-called Blue Berets, which were striving for solution of the international security-related problems, in the beginning of 1989 (through its participation in observer missions in Angola and Namibia).
Up to now approx. 3000 soldiers of the Czech Army have taken part in more than 30 UN missions. Also the Ministry of Interior was involved in peace-keeping operations through the dispatch of policemen. The centre of the military engagement of the Czech Republic in foreign missions gradually transferred from the United Nations to the operations under the command of NATO (IFOR, SFOR, KFOR, Afghanistan, and Iraq) and the EU (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The Czech Republic participated in UN peace-keeping operations and observer missions UNCRO )UN Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia), UNTAES (UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium), UNMIBH (UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina), UNMOP (UN Mission of Observers in Prevlaka), UNMOT (UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan), UNOSOM (UN Operation in Somalia I), UNOMSIL (UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone), UNTAG (UN Transition Assistance Group in Namibia), UNUMOZ (UN Operation in Mozambique), UNOMIL (UN Observer Mission in Liberia), UNAVEM I (UN Angola Verification Mission I), UNAVEM II (UN Angola Verification Mission II), UNGI (UN Guards Contingent in Iraq), and MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara).
Currently the Czech Republic participates in missions UNOMIG) UN Observer Mission in Georgia), MONUC (UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), UNMIL (UN Mission in Liberia), UNMEE (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea), UNMIK (UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) and UNAMA (UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan).