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Researching the United Nations

Introduction to the U.N. and its Bodies

United Nations insignia, a white image over light blue background


Established in 1945, the UN has six main bodies: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council (currently inactive), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

The U.N. currently has 193 member countries. 

Resources for the U.N. and its Bodies

This title has a chapter dedicated to the United Nations (Chapter 8). It can also be accessed as an e-book on West Academic with your USDOne login. 

U.N. Bodies

U.N. General Assembly
- The General Assembly is the main deliberative and policy-making body of the United Nations.
- All 193 member countries participate in the General Assembly. Each country has one vote, and all votes count equally.
- The regular session of the General Assembly begins in September of each year and usually continues through mid-December.

U.N. Security Council

- The Security Council investigates disputes, determines the existence of threats to international peace and security, and recommends what action (including military action) should be taken against aggressors.

- The Security Council is made up of the five permanent members (China, France, Russian Federation, U.K., U.S.A.) and ten other members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.

U.N. Economic and Security Council

- The Economic and Social Council serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the UN

- The 54 member governments of ECOSOC are elected by the General Assembly for terms of three years, with 18 elected each year.  It holds one four-week session each year in July

U.N. Trusteeship Council (Inactive)

- The Trusteeship Council was responsible for administering and preparing eleven trust territories for self-government and independence.

The Trusteeship Council suspended operations on November 1, 1994, with the independence of Palau, the last remaining U.N. trust territory, and will meet only as the occasion requires.

U.N. Secretariat

- The Secretariat provides studies, information, and facilities needed by the various bodies of the United Nations for their meetings.

- The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members working in duty stations around the world.

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

- The fifteen judges on the court are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council for terms of nine years.