United Nations Organisation
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In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The Organization officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October.
The Charter is the constituting instrument of the United Nations, setting out the rights and obligations of Member States, and establishing the Organization's organs and procedures.
The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter, are to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends.
The six principal organs of the United Nations, are the: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat. The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programmes and bodies.
The budget for the two years 2000-2001 is $2,535 million. The main source of funds is the contributions of Member States, which are assessed on a scale approved by the General Assembly.
The fundamental criterion on which the scale of assessments is based is the capacity of countries to pay. This is determined by considering their relative shares of total gross national product, adjusted to take into account a number of factors, including their per capita incomes.
In addition, countries are assessed -- in accordance with a modified version of the basic scale -- for the costs of peacekeeping operations, which stood at around $2 billion in 2000.
The United Nations family
The United Nations family of organizations is made up of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations programmes and funds -- such as the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) -- and the specialized agencies. The programmes, funds and agencies have their own governing bodies and budgets, and set their own standards and guidelines. Together, they provide technical assistance and other forms of practical help in virtually all areas of economic and social endeavour.