Basic Facts about the United Nations, 42nd Edition

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This comprehensive handbook designed for the general public explains the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it addresses and its importance for people everywhere. In addition to setting out the various roles played by principle UN organs and related organizations, Basic Facts about the United Nations documents the Organization’s contributions to international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, humanitarian action, international law and decolonization. Appendices contain current data on UN membership and peacekeeping operations, as well as contact information for UN information centres, services and offices. This latest edition, published in 2017, has been revised to take account of significant developments in the world and the Organization itself since 2014.

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International peace and security

One of the primary purposes of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security. Since its creation, the UN has been called upon to prevent disputes from escalating into war, persuade opposing parties to use peaceable means rather than force of arms to settle disputes, or help restore peace when armed conflict does break out. Over the decades, the UN has helped prevent or end numerous conflicts and foster reconciliation, including in Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Timor-Leste. While the Security Council is the primary organ for dealing with issues of international peace and security, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General also play important, complementary roles. UN activities cover the principal areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, enforcement and peacebuilding (www.un.org/en/sections/what-we-do/maintain-international-peace-and-security).

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