UN System of Organizations

The United Nations System of Organizations covers a wide variety of organizational units (centres, agencies, organizations, commissions, programmes, etc.) with different institutional and functional structures. The principal organs and subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Secretariat are included under the regular budget of the United Nations, as authorized by the General Assembly. Other agencies of the UN system, however, have their own regular budgets or are financed solely from voluntary contributions. These latter two categories, moreover, possess a certain degree of autonomy. 

The organizations within the United Nations system also vary considerably both in size and as regards their activities. Most organizations were established about the time when the United Nations itself came into being, but some are considerably older. For example, the International Telecommunication Union, as a direct continuation of the International Telegraph Union, dates back to 1865 and the Universal Postal Union was first established in 1874. 

Member organs of the United Nations reporting annually to the General Assembly and, as appropriate, through the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council, include:

  • UN - United Nations Secretariat
  • UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund
  • UNCTAD - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • UN Environment - United Nations Environment Programme
  • UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund
  • UNRWA - United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
  • UNU - United Nations University
  • WFP - World Food Programme
  • UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • UN-Habitat - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements
  • OCHA - Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • ITC - International Trade Centre

The specialized agencies, a term first used in the United Nations Charter which provides for international action to promote economic and social progress, re-port to the Economic and Social Council. These specialized agencies work in the economic, social, scientific and tech-nical fields and possess their own legislative and executive bodies, their own secretariats and their own budgets. These include:

  • ILO - International Labour Organization
  • FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization
  • ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization
  • WHO - World Health Organization
  • WB - World Bank Group
  • IMF - International Monetary Fund
  • UPU - Universal Postal Union
  • ITU - International Telecommunication Union
  • WMO - World Meteorological Organization
  • IMO - International Maritime Organization
  • WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
  • IFAD - International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • UNIDO - United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • UNWTO - World Tourism Organization

IAEA, established "under the aegis of the United Nations" also reports annually to the United Nations General Assembly. The United Nations and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) cooperated at the secretariat and inter-governmental levels since 1947. On 1 January 1995, GATT was replaced by the World Trade Organization, which is not part of the UN system.

Under the authority of the Economic and Social Council are the Regional Commissions, whose aims are to assist in the economic and social development of their respective regions and to strengthen economic relations of the countries in each region, both among themselves and with the other countries of the world. These are the Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa), Eco-nomic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok), Economic Commission for Europe (Geneva), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Santiago) and Economic and Social Commission for West-ern Asia (Beirut). The regional commissions study the problems of their regions and recom-mend courses of action to member Governments and specialized Agencies. In recent years the work of the commissions has been expanded, and they are now increasingly involved in carrying out development projects.

Not formally part of the UN system, the regional development banks, nevertheless, work closely with UN organizations and act as Executing Agencies for development projects financed by UNDP. These include the African Development Bank (AFDB) in Abidjan, the Asian Development Bank (ASDB) in Manila, the Caribbean Development Bank in Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C.

The Organizational Chart gives a picture of the interlocking nature of the United Nations system of organizations.

View the greenhouse gas emissions for individual agencies.