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Basic Facts of the United Nations

image of Basic Facts of the United Nations
This comprehensive handbook designed for the general public, sets forth the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it deals with and its importance for people everywhere. Along with explaining the role played by its principal organs and the family of UN organizations, individual chapters explore UN contributions to international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights; humanitarian action, international law; and decolonization. A series of appendices documents UN membership, peacekeeping operations, budget, and contact information for UN information centers, services and offices. This new edition of the work has been substantially revised featuring significant developments worldwide and in the United Nations itself since the last edition (previously titled The UN Today) in 2008.

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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 often been called upon to prevent disputes from escalating into war, to persuade opposing parties to use the conference table rather than force of arms, or to help restore peace when armed conflict does break out. Over the decades, the UN has helped end numerous conflicts, often through actions of the Security Council— the primary organ for dealing with issues of international peace and security. The Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, however, all play major, complementary roles in fostering peace and security. United Nations activities cover the principal areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, enforcement and peacebuilding (see www.un.org/peace). These types of engagement must overlap or take place simultaneously if they are to be effective.

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