About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

1 1 (August 25, 2022)

handle is hein.crs/goveiqp0001 and id is 1 raw text is: Congressional Research Serv!c~
Informing the legisl itive debate since 1914

Updated August 25, 2022
United Nations Issues: Overview of the United Nations System

The United Nations (U.N.) system comprises
interconnected entities including the United Nations,
specialized agencies, U.N. peacekeeping operations, funds
and programs, and other related bodies. Congress has
generally supported the U.N. system and mission, and often
uses U.N. mechanisms to further U.S. foreign policy
objectives. At the same time, some policymakers have been
critical of the U.N. system, arguing that U.N. actions or
decisions do not align with U.S. policy priorities, or that it
is not operating as effectively as possible.
U.N. entities have different mandates, structures,
leadership, and funding mechanisms. Each body is funded
through assessed or voluntary contributions from U.N.
members (or a combination of both). Assessed contributions
are required dues, the payment of which is a legal
obligation accepted by a country when it becomes a
member. Voluntary contributions finance special funds,
programs, and offices. Some U.N. bodies receive both types
of funding.
The United Nations
Established in the aftermath of World War II, the United
Nations is an intergovernmental organization composed of
193 member states. The U.N. Charter, an international
treaty to which the United States is a state party, is the
founding document of the United Nations. Article 1 of the
Charter states that the purposes of the organization are to
maintain international peace and security; develop friendly
relations among nations; solve economic, social, cultural, or
humanitarian problems; and promote human rights. The
United Nations includes six main parts (referred to as
* The 193-member General Assembly (GA) is the
organization's primary decisionmaking body. It
approves the U.N. regular and peacekeeping budgets
and supports the work of its committees and subsidiary
organs, such as the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC).
* The 15-member Security Council (SC) is mandated
with maintaining international peace and security. It
includes 5 permanent members with veto power (United
States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom)
and 10 nonpermanent members, who are elected by the
GA for two-year terms.
* The Secretariat is the U.N. administrative body. It is
led by the Secretary-General (SG), who serves as chief
administrative officer. The SG is appointed by the GA
on the recommendation of the SC. The SG serves a five-
year term, with the possibility for a second term. The
Secretariat is located at U.N. Headquarters in New York

The three other principal organs are (1) the U.N. Economic
and Social Council, a 54-member body that addresses
economic, social, and environmental issues; (2) the
International Court of Justice, the principal U.N. judicial
body; and (3) the Trusteeship Council, which supervised
the administration of trust territories from colonies to
sovereign nations and completed its mandate in 1994.
The United Nations is funded through the U.N. regular
budget, which totals $3.12 billion in 2022. The United
States' assessed contribution is 22% of the regular budget
(an estimated $697.9 million in U.S. FY2022). Other top
contributors include China (15.25%) and Japan (8.03%).
U.N. members approve assessment levels every three years
based on a formula taking into account gross national
income and other economic data. The United States often
accumulates arrears to the regular budget due to differences
between the U.S. and U.N. fiscal years (which affects the
timing of U.S. payments) and U.S. withholdings from U.N.
activities, among other reasons. (For more information, see
CRS In Focus IF10354, United Nations Issues: U.S.
Funding to the U.N. System.)
U.N Specialized Agencies
The U.N. system has 15 specialized agencies, each of which
is a legally independent intergovernmental organization
with its own constitution, rules, membership, organs, and
assessed budget (Figure 1). Many specialized agencies
follow the assessments for the U.N. regular budget, while
others use their own formulas. The United States is a
member of all specialized agencies except for UNESCO,
UNIDO, and UNWTO. (President Trump initiated WHO
withdrawal in 2020; President Biden halted the process and
resumed U.S. participation in 2021.)
Figure I. U.N. Specialized Agencies
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
International Cvil Aviat in Org anization IlCAO)
nternational Fund for Agricultural Development FAD)
Internationl Labor O rganization !IL)
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
International Monetary Fund (IMFI)
International Telecommunication Union (iTU)
* U.N. Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
*  NU.N Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
I U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTI )
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
World Bank Group (WBG)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Wor d Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
e indicates the United States is not a member
Source: United Nations, adapted by CRS.

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most