Bikolpodhara Bangladesh is a liberal political party in Bangladesh for everyone’s better living
Dr A.Q.M Badruddoza Chowdhury
Formerly Known as B Chowdhury Founder of Bikolpodhara Bangladesh
Dr A.Q.M. Badruddoza Chowdhury (Bengali: born November 1, 1932, Bikrampur, Dhaka, Bangladesh) was the 15th president of Bangladesh and founding secretary-general of Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
In the beginning …
His father, Kafiluddin Chowdhury, was a political leader of Awami League and served as Minister in provincial cabinet of the then East Pakistan. Being inspired by Ziaur Rahman, the founder chairman of the party, he entered into politics as the Secretary General of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during its early years. He won the parliament election of 1979 as a BNP nominee from Munshigan and served as cabinet minister during the years 1979-1982. When the Bangladesh Nationalist Party again won parliamentary elections in 1991, after a short stint as Education Minister, he was appointed Deputy Leader of the House of Bangladesh parliament under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia.
In 2001, during the second spell of Khaleda Zia’s premiership, Chowdhury became foreign minister of Bangladesh. Shortly afterward, in November 2001, he became the President of Bangladesh. After a short stint of seven months, he decided not to visit BNP party leader and long-time-colleague Ziaur Rahman’s grave on his death anniversary, trying to stay neutral. Party leaders accused the President of betraying the party. It was expected that the BNP-majority parliament would start an impeachment process. Hence, Dr Chowdhury resigned from office before the situation could turn any murkier.
Dr Chowdhury felt the need of a third force in the de facto two-party democracy in Bangladesh. He expressed recruiting civil society members in politics to fight corruption and terrorism and establish good governance in the country through an alternate stream (lit. Bikalpa Dhara) political party. He, along with his son Mahi B. Chowdhury and BNP parliamentarian M A Mannan resigned from BNP to work for the new political party. Mohammed Ohid Uddin founded the UK Bracnh of Bikolpodhara, He is also the member of the central committee Bangladesh. Dr Chowdhury was the President, with M A Mannan as the secretary-general of the new party, Bikolpodhara Bangladesh formed in March 2004. It had been a strong critic of the government during the time, and most of its members were defects from the ruling BNP. BNP parliamentarian Oli Ahmed too had defected from BNP to join Bikalpa Dhara, but later split to form Liberal Democratic Party. He has been the party’s President since its inception, except for a brief period between December 2008 and April 2009, during which time he had resigned from his post after the party could secure no seats during the 9th parliament elections.
Dr. Kamal hussain born on 20 April 1937
Kamala is a Bangladeshi politician, statesman and lawyer. He is credited as being one of the principal authors of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
At the local government level, the country is divided into divisions, districts, subdistricts (Upazila), unions, and villages. The lowest level of local government representative are Local officials of union council those who are elected at the union level election. All larger administrative units are run by members of the civil service.
Dr. Hossain was arrested during the Bangladesh Liberation War in April 1971 by the Pakistani Government and kept in custody in West Pakistan. He was released together with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman when both of them left Pakistan for London.
After East Pakistan earned its independence and became Bangladesh, Dr. Hossain served in the Government of Bangladesh under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the Minister of Law (1972–1973), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1973–1975) and Minister of Petroleum and Minerals (1974–1975). One of his earliest tasks as Minister of Law was the drafting of the Constitution of Bangladesh which was completed in 1972.
He was a member of the Awami League until the early 1990s, when he formed his own political party, Gano Forum (People’s Forum), following disputes with Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina. Since leaving the Awami League, he has unsuccessfully stood for election to Parliament in several General Elections.
He was awarded a Bachelor of Jurisprudence degree with honours from the University of Oxford in 1957 and a Bachelor of Civil Law from the same institution in 1958. In 1964 he was awarded a Doctorate in International Law. He was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn, London.
He is a leading advocate in Bangladesh and has conducted a number of landmark cases, published in various law journals in Bangladesh. In addition he has appeared in several international arbitrations, both as a lawyer and an arbitrator, including acting as an arbitrator in the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.
Role in the International Arena
Dr. Hossain is renowned worldwide as a jurist and enjoys a long-standing association with the United Nations. Between 1998 and 2003, he served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan. He is a current member of the UN Compensation Commission. He has also acted as an observer in various elections around the world.
Kader Siddiqui (Bengali: born 1948 Tangail) is one of the most famous fighters and organizers of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Often hailed as Bagha (Tiger) Kader or Bongo Bir (Hero of Bengal), Siddiqui has to be decorated as Bir Uttom (Great Hero) by the government of Bangladesh. He organized and fought with an estimated 10,000-strong guerilla force in the Tangail region against the Pakistan Army. This army was called Kaderia Bahini (Kader’s Army). This group carried out many successful guerrilla operations in Tangail. Siddique was wounded at the Makrar battle near Balla village. Kaderia Bahini is notable for the capture of a Pakistani ship with large quantities of arms and ammunitions at Bhuapur . At the end of the war, on December 16, Siddique’s forces entered Dhaka along with the Indian forces , signalling the end of the war.
Involvement in massacres of prisoners of war
According to a report in The Times, Siddiqui’s guerillas beat up and subsequently bayoneted and shot to death a group of prisoners (who they claimed were Razakars) after a rally held near Dhaka Stadium on December 19, at which Siddiqui himself gave an hour long speech. The prisoners were murdered after performing Islamic prayers together with their captors. According to the same source, shortly before murdering them, the Mukti Bahini soldiers promised the prisoners ‘a fair trial, as in any civilised country’.
Abdul Kader Siddiqui personally bayoneted three prisoners to death and the entire incident was filmed by foreign film crews whom Siddiqui invited to witness the spectacle. Siddiqui was subsequently arrested by the Indian Army.
Siddiqui discussed his involvement in the murders in an interview with Yasmin Saikia, the author of ‘Women, War and Making Bangladesh: Remembering 1971’. After describing an event in which Siddiqui shot a Mukti Bahini soldier for stealing a shawl from a Bengali civilian, Saikia states, referring to the Dhaka stadium incident, that ‘at the time he did not think of his act as a crime against humanity, being swayed by the Bengali public sentiment for revenge. Today he knows that both the acts – killing a younger soldier for a petty theft and killing the Biharis for being different from the Bengalis – were public acts of violence disguised under the label of national morale to establish the power of the Bengalis and claim victory, but they were violent acts, nonetheless, and he is pained by his past’.
Siddiqui was never tried for these crimes.
After East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh, Siddiqui went back to his home town of Tangail where he enjoyed considerable patronage from the Awami League, the party of then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mujibur Rahman.
After the assassination of Mujibur Rahman in 1975, Siddiqui and his followers organised attacks on the authorities of Khondakar Mushtaque’s government. Elements loyal to Siddiqui operated from bases in Assam province in India and were actively supported by India’s Border Security Force.
Siddiqui is presently an MP in the parliament of Bangladesh.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO ( /ˈneɪtoʊ/ nay-toh; French: Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN)), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, one of the 28 member states across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defence spending.
For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure in 1966.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted their first military interventions in Bosnia from 1991 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Cold War rivals, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. The September 2001 attacks signalled the only occasion in NATO’s history that Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty has been invoked as an attack on all NATO members. After the attack, troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF, and the organization continues to operate in a range of roles, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and most recently in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
(NATO / OTAN)
Flag of NATO
NATO countries shown in green
Formation 4 April 1949
Type Military alliance
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
Membership 28 states
Official languages English
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Giampaolo Di Paola
The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949 and was ratified by the United States that August.
The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defence Organization in September 1948. However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism, so talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949.
The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some Overseas departments of France.
The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S. practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale de Herstal’s FAL became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s. Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.
Main article: Cold War
The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, was formed as a consolidated command structure, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951. The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Baron Hastings Ismay eventually appointed to the post.
The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe
In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway. Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving British, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and U.S. naval forces.
Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure. While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.
In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal. The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time. A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion. One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.
Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.
Map of the NATO air bases in France before Charles de Gaulle’s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command
NATO’s unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle’s presidency of France. De Gaulle protested the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the U.S. and U.K., and also for expanding NATO’s coverage to include areas of interest to France, most notably French Algeria, where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.
Considering the response he received to his memorandum unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defence force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO-Warsaw Pact war. In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command. He later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the air force bases that had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.
Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command. In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from Rocquencourt, near Paris, to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967. France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Communist attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between U.S. and French officials, the Lemnitzer-Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO’s command structure should East-West hostilities break out.
Détente and escalation
Main article: Détente
Détente led to many high level meetings between leaders from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as U.S. forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged. In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.
During the Cold War, most of Europe was divided between two alliances. Members of NATO are shown in blue, with members of the Warsaw Pact in red.
On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of U.S. GLCM cruise missiles and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy. Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war. This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.
The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980. The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because of the limited scope of NATO. On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance.
After the Cold War
The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and even geographic focus. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe agreed between NATO members and the Soviet Union and signed in Paris in 1990, mandated specific military reductions on the continent. When the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, European countries accounted for 34% of NATO’s military spending; by 2012, that had fallen to 21%. NATO also began a gradual expansion with newly autonomous Eastern European nations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.
Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.
The first post–Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east. The scholar Stephen F. Cohen argued in 2005 that a commitment was given that NATO would never expand further east, but according to Robert Zoellick, then a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception; no formal commitment of the sort was made. In May 2008, Gorbachev repeated his view that such a commitment had been made, and that “the Americans promised that NATO wouldn’t move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War”.
As part of post–Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy have resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the integrated military command of NATO, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.
Enlargement and reform
Further information: Enlargement of NATO
NATO has added 12 new members since German Reunification and the end of the Cold War.
Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1998, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Northern and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. In Istanbul, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.
New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished. The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a major restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations. In March 2004, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Four fighters are based in Lithuania, provided in rotation by virtually all the NATO states.
The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and highlighted the issue of energy security. It was the first NATO summit to be held in a country that was part of the Soviet Union. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they could eventually become members. The issue of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO prompted harsh criticism from Russia, as did NATO plans for a missile defence system. Studies for this system began in 2002, with negotiations centered on anti-ballistic missiles being stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though NATO leaders gave assurances that the system was not targeting Russia, both presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev criticized it as a threat. In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed using the ship based Aegis Combat System, though this plan still includes stations being built in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Poland.
Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention
Main article: NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina
NATO planes engaged in aerial bombardments during Operation Deliberate Force after the Srebrenica massacre.
The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the Breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 till October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.
On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War, the United Nations Protection Force called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Serbian military command outpost near Goražde by two US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction. This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April. On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces. A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.
NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995. As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, named IFOR. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller SFOR, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations where then passed onto European Union Force Althea. Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.
Main articles: 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and KFOR
German KFOR soldiers patrol southern Kosovo in 1999
In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević’s Serbian-led crackdown on Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under UN Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO, which started an 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999. Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.
Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including for bombs that landed on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted UN resolution 1244, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR’s mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence. In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia. As of 30 March 2012, 6,226 KFOR soldiers continue to operate in the area.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval. The U.S./UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post–Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.
Main articles: International Security Assistance Force and War in Afghanistan
The 11 September attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke its collective defence article for the first time.
The 11 September attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in its history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.
Despite this early show of solidarity, NATO faced a crisis little more than a year later, when on 10 February 2003, France and Belgium vetoed the procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany did not use its right to break the procedure but said it supported the veto. On the issue of Afghanistan on the other hand, the alliance showed greater unity: on 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area. Canada had originally been slated to take over ISAF by itself on that date.
ISAF General David M. Rodriguez at an Italian change of command in Herat.
ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan, and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.
On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition. Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, France has recently allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts. NATO is also training the military of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Police to be better equipped in forcing out the Taliban.
Iraq training mission
Main article: NATO Training Mission – Iraq
In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the U.S. led MNF-I. The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO’s North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the U.S.-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who is also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.
Gulf of Aden anti-piracy
Main article: Operation Ocean Shield
USS Farragut destroying a Somali pirate skiff in March 2010
Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in Somalia. China and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well.
Libyan no-fly zone
Main articles: 2011 military intervention in Libya and 2011 Libyan civil war
During the 2011 Libyan civil war, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards. On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1, and additional ships and submarines from NATO members. They would “monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries”.
Libyan Army Palmaria howitzers destroyed by the French Air Force near Benghazi on 19 March 2011
On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained with the coalition’s forces. NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations, resulting in a confrontation between U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict. In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO. The German foreign ministry pointed to “a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations” and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.
While the mission was extended into September, Norway that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August. Earlier that week it was reported Danish air fighters were running out of bombs. The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country’s operations in the conflict were not sustainable. By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.
Main articles: Member states of NATO and Enlargement of NATO
NATO has added new members seven times since first forming in 1949, and now comprises 28 nations. New membership in the alliance has been largely from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including former members of the Warsaw Pact. At the 2008 summit in Bucharest, three countries were promised future invitations: the Republic of Macedonia, Georgia and Ukraine. Though Macedonia completed its requirements for membership at the same time as Croatia and Albania, NATO’s most recent members, its accession was blocked by Greece pending a resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute. Cyprus also has not progressed toward further relations, in part because of opposition from Turkey. Other candidate countries include Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which joined the Adriatic Charter of potential members in 2008. Their accession to the alliance is governed with individual Membership Action Plans, and will require approval by each current member.
Russia continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H. W. Bush that allowed for a peaceful German reunification. NATO’s expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia. After the 2010 election in Ukraine, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych declared his administration would not be pursuing NATO membership. Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.
NATO and the European Union signed a comprehensive package of arrangements under the Berlin Plus agreement on 16 December 2002. With this agreement the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called “right of first refusal.” A double framework has been established to help further co-operation between the 28 NATO members and 22 “partner countries”.
NATO organizes regular summits for leaders of their members states and partnerships.
▪ The Partnership for Peace (PfP) program was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation. The PfP program is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
▪ The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.
Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses their activities with numerous other non-NATO members.
▪ The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa.
▪ The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialog forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council.
▪ Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework such as Afghanistan.
Since 1990–91, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of the above cooperative groupings. Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and a range of non-NATO countries have contributed to peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. The Allies established a set of general guidelines on relations with other countries, beyond the above groupings in 1998. The guidelines do not allow for a formal institutionalization of relations, but reflect the Allies’ desire to increase cooperation. Following extensive debate, the term “Contact Countries” was agreed by the Allies in 2000. Two of these countries are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen took over as Secretary General of NATO in August 2009 after serving as the Prime Minister of Denmark.
The main headquarters of NATO is located on Boulevard Léopold III, B-1110 Brussels, which is in Haren, part of the City of Brussels municipality. A new headquarters building is, as of 2010, under construction nearby, due for completion by 2015. The design is an adaptation of the original award-winning scheme designed by Michel Mossessian and his team when he was a Design Partner with SOM.
The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices and officers or diplomatic missions and diplomats of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states. Non-governmental citizens’ groups have also grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council/Atlantic Treaty Association movement.
Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 28 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty, and other agreements, outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.
Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministers, defence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.
The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.
List of Secretaries General
# Name Country Duration
1 General Lord Ismay
United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak
Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker
Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio
Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns
Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington
United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner
Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
– Sergio Balanzino (acting)
Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes
Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
– Sergio Balanzino (acting)
Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana
Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson
United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
– Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo (acting) Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Denmark 1 August 2009–present
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Main article: NATO Parliamentary Assembly
NATO Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. Karl A. Lamers, German Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag and a member of the Christian Democratic Union, became president of the assembly in 2010. It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.
The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:
▪ Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
▪ Defence and Security Committee
▪ Economics and Security Committee
▪ Political Committee
▪ Science and Technology Committee
These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.
Main article: Military units and formations of NATO
NATO E-3A flying with US F-16s in a NATO exercise
The second pivotal member of each country’s delegation is the Military Representative, a senior officer from each country’s armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee, a body responsible for recommending to NATO’s political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council. The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Giampaolo Di Paola of Italy, since 2008.
Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation’s armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country’s 1966 decision to remove itself from NATO’s integrated military structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members. Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.
NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and split into two Strategic Commands commanded by a senior US officer and a senior French officer assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.
The Military Committee in turn directs two principal NATO organizations: the Allied Command Operations responsible for the strategic, operational and tactical management of combat and combat support forces of the NATO members, and the Allied Command Transformation organization responsible for the induction of the new member states’ forces into NATO, and NATO forces’ research and training capability.
The United Nations (abbreviated UN in English, and ONU in its other official languages), is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.
There are 193 member states, including every internationally recognised sovereign state in the world but Vatican City. From its offices around the world, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (which is currently inactive). Other prominent UN System agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The UN’s most prominent position is Secretary-General which has been held by Ban Ki-moon of South Korea since 2007.
The United Nations Headquarters resides in international territory in New York City, with further main offices at Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states, and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
Main article: History of the United Nations
The Chilean delegation signing the UN Charter in San Francisco, 1945
The League of Nations failed to prevent World War II (1939–1945). Because of the widespread recognition that humankind could not afford a third world war, the United Nations was established to replace the flawed League of Nations in 1945 in order to maintain international peace and promote cooperation in solving international economic, social and humanitarian problems. The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization was begun under the aegis of the U.S. State Department in 1939. Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term ‘United Nations’ as a term to describe the Allied countries. The term was first officially used on 1 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Atlantic Charter, pledging to continue the war effort. On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter. The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council—France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories. The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Westminster Central Hall in London in January 1946.
The organization was based at the Sperry Gyroscope Corporation’s facility in Lake Success, New York, from 1946–1952, before moving to the United Nations Headquarters building in Manhattan upon its completion.
Since its creation, there has been controversy and criticism of the United Nations. In the United States, an early opponent of the UN was the John Birch Society, which began a “get US out of the UN” campaign in 1959, charging that the UN’s aim was to establish a “One World Government.” After the Second World War, the French Committee of National Liberation was late to be recognized by the US as the government of France, and so the country was initially excluded from the conferences that aimed at creating the new organization. Charles de Gaulle criticized the UN, famously calling it le machin (“the thing”), and was not convinced that a global security alliance would help maintain world peace, preferring direct defence treaties between countries.
Legal basis of establishment
Shortly after its establishment the UN sought recognition as an international legal person due to the case of Reparations for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations with the advisory opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The question arose whether the United Nations, as an organisation, had “the capacity to bring an international claim against a government regarding injuries that the organisation alleged had been caused by that state.”
The Court stated: the Organization was intended to exercise and enjoy, and is in fact exercising and enjoying functions and rights, which can only be explained on the basis of the possession of a large measure of international personality and the capacity to operate upon an international plane … Accordingly, the Court has come to the conclusion that the Organization is an international person. That is not the same thing as saying that it is a State, which it certainly is not, or that its legal personality and rights and duties are the same as those of a State … What it does mean is that it is a subject of international law and capable of possessing international rights and duties, and that it has capacity to maintain its rights by bringing international claims.
Main article: United Nations System
The United Nations’ system is based on five principal organs (formerly six – the Trusteeship Council suspended operations in 1994, upon the independence of Palau, the last remaining UN trustee territory); the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice.
Four of the five principal organs are located at the main United Nations Headquarters located on international territory in New York City. The International Court of Justice is located in The Hague, while other major agencies are based in the UN offices at Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. Other UN institutions are located throughout the world.
The six official languages of the United Nations, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The Secretariat uses two working languages, English and French. Four of the official languages are the national languages of the permanent members of the Security Council (the United Kingdom and the United States share English as a de facto official language); Spanish and Arabic are the languages of the two largest blocs of official languages outside of the permanent members (Spanish being official in 20 countries, Arabic in 26). Five of the official languages were chosen when the UN was founded; Arabic was added later in 1973. The United Nations Editorial Manual states that the standard for English language documents is British usage and Oxford spelling, the Chinese writing standard is Simplified Chinese. This replaced Traditional Chinese in 1971 when the UN representation of China was changed from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China (see China and the United Nations for details).
United Nations General Assembly hall
Main article: United Nations General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative assembly of the United Nations. Composed of all United Nations member states, the assembly meets in regular yearly sessions under a president elected from among the member states. Over a two-week period at the start of each session, all members have the opportunity to address the assembly. Traditionally, the Secretary-General makes the first statement, followed by the president of the assembly. The first session was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Westminster Central Hall in London and included representatives of 51 nations.
When the General Assembly votes on important questions, a two-thirds majority of those present and voting is required. Examples of important questions include: recommendations on peace and security; election of members to organs; admission, suspension, and expulsion of members; and, budgetary matters. All other questions are decided by majority vote. Each member country has one vote. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, resolutions are not binding on the members. The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security that are under Security Council consideration.
Conceivably, the one state, one vote power structure could enable states comprising just eight percent of the world population to pass a resolution by a two-thirds vote (see List of countries by population). However, as no more than recommendations, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which a recommendation by member states constituting just eight percent of the world’s population, would be adhered to by the remaining ninety-two percent of the population, should they object.
United Nations Security Council chamber
Main article: United Nations Security Council
The Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and security among countries. While other organs of the United Nations can only make ‘recommendations’ to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make binding decisions that member governments have agreed to carry out, under the terms of Charter Article 25. The decisions of the Council are known as United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, consisting of 5 permanent members–China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States–and 10 non-permanent members, currently Azerbaijan, India, South Africa, Colombia, Morocco, Togo, Germany, Pakistan, Guatemala, and Portugal. The five permanent members hold veto power over substantive but not procedural resolutions allowing a permanent member to block adoption but not to block the debate of a resolution unacceptable to it. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the General Assembly on a regional basis. The presidency of the Security Council is rotated alphabetically each month.
Main article: United Nations Secretariat
The United Nations Secretariat Building at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
The United Nations Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies. The United Nations Charter provides that the staff be chosen by application of the “highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity,” with due regard for the importance of recruiting on a wide geographical basis.
The Charter provides that the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any authority other than the UN. Each UN member country is enjoined to respect the international character of the Secretariat and not seek to influence its staff. The Secretary-General alone is responsible for staff selection.
The Secretary-General’s duties include helping resolve international disputes, administering peacekeeping operations, organizing international conferences, gathering information on the implementation of Security Council decisions, and consulting with member governments regarding various initiatives. Key Secretariat offices in this area include the Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter that, in his or her opinion, may threaten international peace and security.
Main article: Secretary-General of the United Nations
The current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, who acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the UN. The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon, who took over from Kofi Annan in 2007 and has been elected for a second term to conclude at the end of 2016.
Envisioned by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a “world moderator”, the position is defined in the UN Charter as the organization’s “chief administrative officer”, but the Charter also states that the Secretary-General can bring to the Security Council’s attention “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”, giving the position greater scope for action on the world stage. The position has evolved into a dual role of an administrator of the UN organization, and a diplomat and mediator addressing disputes between member states and finding consensus to global issues.
The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly, after being recommended by the Security Council, where the permanent members have veto power. The General Assembly can theoretically override the Security Council’s recommendation if a majority vote is not achieved, although this has not happened so far. There are no specific criteria for the post, but over the years, it has become accepted that the post shall be held for one or two terms of five years, that the post shall be appointed on the basis of geographical rotation, and that the Secretary-General shall not originate from one of the five permanent Security Council member states.
No. Name Country of origin Took office Left office Note
1 Trygve Lie
2 February 1946 10 November 1952 Resigned
2 Dag Hammarskjöld
10 April 1953 18 September 1961 Died while in office
3 U Thant
30 November 1961 31 December 1971 First Secretary-
General from Asia
4 Kurt Waldheim
1 January 1972 31 December 1981
5 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
1 January 1982 31 December 1991 First Secretary-
General from the Americas
6 Boutros Boutros-Ghali
1 January 1992 31 December 1996 First Secretary-
General from Africa
7 Kofi Annan
1 January 1997 31 December 2006
8 Ban Ki-moon
1 January 2007 Incumbent
Secretaries-General of the United Nations
International Court of Justice
Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands
Main article: International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), located in The Hague, Netherlands, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. Established in 1945 by the United Nations Charter, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, similar to that of its predecessor, is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court.
It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, sharing the building with the Hague Academy of International Law, a private centre for the study of international law. Several of the Court’s current judges are either alumni or former faculty members of the Academy. Its purpose is to adjudicate disputes among states. The court has heard cases related to war crimes, illegal state interference and ethnic cleansing, among others, and continues to hear cases.
International Criminal Court
Main article: International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC), it came into being on 1 July 2002 with the entering into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which was adopted on 17 July 1998. It is the first permanent international court charged with trying those who commit the most serious crimes under international law, including war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression (although it cannot exercise jurisdiction over this crime prior to 2017). The ICC is functionally independent of the UN in terms of personnel and financing, but some meetings of the ICC governing body, the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute, are held at the United Nations. There is a “relationship agreement” between the ICC and the UN that governs how the two institutions regard each other legally.
Economic and Social Council
Main article: United Nations Economic and Social Council
The ECOSOC chamber
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development. ECOSOC has 54 members, all of which are elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term. The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen amongst the small or middle powers represented on ECOSOC. ECOSOC meets once a year in July for a four-week session. Since 1998, it has held another meeting each April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Viewed separate from the specialized bodies it coordinates, ECOSOC’s functions include information gathering, advising member nations, and making recommendations. In addition, ECOSOC is well-positioned to provide policy coherence and coordinate the overlapping functions of the UN’s subsidiary bodies and it is in these roles that it is most active.
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Main article: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII or PFII) is the UN’s central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. The forum, which evolved from the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, is an advisory body within the framework of the United Nations System that reports to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); however, it performs an advisory function in relation to other branches of the United Nations system. It also works with other U.N. bodies as they address indigenous rights through Conventions such as the International Labour Organization’s Convention No.169 and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Article 8j).
The Forum’s mandate is to:
▪ Provide expert advice and recommendations to the Economic and Social Council and to the various programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations System through the Council;
▪ Raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system;
▪ Prepare and disseminate information on these issues.
Since the passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, much of the work of UNPFII has surrounded the compliance of U.N. member states to the standards of that declaration. However, it performs many other international functions as well.
Main article: List of specialized agencies of the United Nations
Many UN organizations and agencies exist to work on particular issues. Some of the most well-known agencies are the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
It is through these agencies that the UN performs most of its humanitarian work. Examples include mass vaccination programmes (through the WHO), the avoidance of famine and malnutrition (through the work of the WFP) and the protection of vulnerable and displaced people (for example, by the UNHCR).
The United Nations Charter stipulates that each primary organ of the UN can establish various specialized agencies to fulfil its duties.
Main article: Member states of the United Nations
An animation showing the timeline of accession of UN member states, according to the UN. Note that Antarctica has no government; political control of Western Sahara is in dispute; and the territories administered by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Kosovo are considered by the UN to be provinces of the People’s Republic of China and Republic of Serbia, respectively.
With the addition of South Sudan on 14 July 2011, there are currently 193 United Nations member states, including all fully recognized independent states apart from Vatican City (the Holy See, which holds sovereignty over the state of Vatican City, is a permanent observer).
The United Nations Charter outlines the rules for membership:
▪ Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states that accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
▪ The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
—United Nations Charter, Chapter 2, Article 4, http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/
Group of 77
The Group of 77 at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but the organization has since expanded to 130 member countries. The group was founded on 15 June 1964 by the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The first major meeting was in Algiers in 1967, where the Charter of Algiers was adopted and the basis for permanent institutional structures was begun.
Peacekeeping and security
Main article: United Nations peacekeeping
See also: List of United Nations peacekeeping missions
Jammu and Kashmir
Current UN peacekeeping missions
The UN, after approval by the Security Council, sends peacekeepers to regions where armed conflict has recently ceased or paused to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage combatants from resuming hostilities. Since the UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily provided by member states of the UN. The forces, also called the “Blue Helmets”, who enforce UN accords, are awarded United Nations Medals, which are considered international decorations instead of military decorations. The peacekeeping force as a whole received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
The founders of the UN had envisaged that the organization would act to prevent conflicts between nations and make future wars impossible, however the outbreak of the Cold War made peacekeeping agreements extremely difficult because of the division of the world into hostile camps. Following the end of the Cold War, there were renewed calls for the UN to become the agency for achieving world peace, as several dozen ongoing conflicts continue to rage around the globe.
A 2005 RAND Corp study found the UN to be successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts. It compared UN nation-building efforts to those of the United States, and found that seven out of eight UN cases are at peace, as compared with four out of eight US cases at peace. Also in 2005, the Human Security Report documented a decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War, and presented evidence, albeit circumstantial, that international activism—mostly spearheaded by the UN—has been the main cause of the decline in armed conflict since the end of the Cold War. Situations where the UN has not only acted to keep the peace but also occasionally intervened include the Korean War (1950–1953), and the authorization of intervention in Iraq after the Persian Gulf War in 1990.
The UN has also drawn criticism for perceived failures. In many cases, member states have shown reluctance to achieve or enforce Security Council resolutions, an issue that stems from the UN’s intergovernmental nature—seen by some as simply an association of 193 member states who must reach consensus, not an independent organization. Disagreements in the Security Council about military action and intervention are seen as having failed to prevent the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, failed to provide humanitarian aid and intervene in the Second Congo War, failed to intervene in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and protect a refugee haven by authorizing peacekeepers to use force, failure to deliver food to starving people in Somalia, failure to implement provisions of Security Council resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and continuing failure to prevent genocide or provide assistance in Darfur. UN peacekeepers have also been accused of child rape, sexual abuse or soliciting prostitutes during various peacekeeping missions, starting in 2003, in the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and what is now South Sudan, Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire. In 2004, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold criticized what it called the organization’s moral relativism in the face of (and occasional support of) genocide and terrorism that occurred between the moral clarity of its founding period and the present day. Gold specifically mentions Yasser Arafat’s 1988 invitation to address the General Assembly as a low point in the UN’s history.
In addition to peacekeeping, the UN is also active in encouraging disarmament. Regulation of armaments was included in the writing of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and was envisioned as a way of limiting the use of human and economic resources for the creation of them. However, the advent of nuclear weapons came only weeks after the signing of the charter and immediately halted concepts of arms limitation and disarmament, resulting in the first resolution of the first ever General Assembly meeting calling for specific proposals for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction”. The principal forums for disarmament issues are the General Assembly First Committee, the UN Disarmament Commission, and the Conference on Disarmament, and considerations have been made of the merits of a ban on testing nuclear weapons, outer space arms control, the banning of chemical weapons and land mines, nuclear and conventional disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, the reduction of military budgets, and measures to strengthen international security.
The UN is one of the official supporters of the World Security Forum, a major international conference on the effects of global catastrophes and disasters, which took place in the United Arab Emirates in October 2008.
Human rights and humanitarian assistance
Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1949
The pursuit of human rights was a central reason for creating the UN. World War II atrocities and genocide led to a ready consensus that the new organization must work to prevent any similar tragedies in the future. An early objective was creating a legal framework for considering and acting on complaints about human rights violations. The UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights” and to take “joint and separate action” to that end. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all. The Assembly regularly takes up human rights issues.
The UN and its agencies are central in upholding and implementing the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A case in point is support by the UN for countries in transition to democracy. Technical assistance in providing free and fair elections, improving judicial structures, drafting constitutions, training human rights officials, and transforming armed movements into political parties have contributed significantly to democratization worldwide. The UN has helped run elections in countries with little or no democratic history, including recently in Afghanistan and East Timor. The UN is also a forum to support the right of women to participate fully in the political, economic, and social life of their countries. The UN contributes to raising consciousness of the concept of human rights through its covenants and its attention to specific abuses through its General Assembly, Security Council resolutions, or International Court of Justice rulings.
The purpose of the United Nations Human Rights Council, established in 2006, is to address human rights violations. The Council is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which was often criticized for the high-profile positions it gave to member states that did not guarantee the human rights of their own citizens. The council has 47 members distributed by region, which each serve three-year terms, and may not serve three consecutive terms. A candidate to the body must be approved by a majority of the General Assembly. In addition, the council has strict rules for membership, including a universal human rights review. While some members with questionable human rights records have been elected, it is fewer than before with the increased focus on each member state’s human rights record.
The rights of some 370 million indigenous peoples around the world are also a focus for the UN, with a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples being approved by the General Assembly in 2007. The declaration outlines the individual and collective rights to culture, language, education, identity, employment and health, thereby addressing post-colonial issues that had confronted indigenous peoples for centuries. The declaration aims to maintain, strengthen and encourage the growth of indigenous institutions, cultures and traditions. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their active participation in matters that concern their past, present and future. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is the UN’s central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. The forum is an advisory body within the framework of the United Nations System that reports to the UN’s Economic and Social Council.
In conjunction with other organizations such as the Red Cross, the UN provides food, drinking water, shelter and other humanitarian services to populaces suffering from famine, displaced by war, or afflicted by other disasters. Major humanitarian branches of the UN are the World Food Programme (which helps feed more than 100 million people a year in 80 countries), the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees with projects in over 116 countries, as well as peacekeeping projects in over 24 countries.
Social and economic development
Millennium Development Goals
▪ eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
▪ achieve universal primary education;
▪ promote gender equality and empower women;
▪ reduce child mortality;
▪ improve maternal health;
▪ combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
▪ ensure environmental sustainability; and
▪ develop a global partnership for development.
The UN is involved in supporting development, e.g. by the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is the largest multilateral source of grant technical assistance in the world. Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are leading institutions in the battle against diseases around the world, especially in poor countries. The UN Population Fund is a major provider of reproductive services. 32 UN agencies performing tasks on development are coordinating their efforts through the United Nations Development Group or UNDG.
The UN also promotes human development through some related agencies, particularly the UNDP. The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, are independent, specialized agencies and observers within the UN framework, according to a 1947 agreement. They were initially formed as separate from the UN through the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944.
The UNDP annually publishes the Human Development Index (HDI), a comparative measure ranking countries by poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy, and other factors.
The Millennium Development Goals (declared in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000) are eight goals that all of the then 192 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015.
See also: Category:United Nations Security Council mandates
From time to time, the different bodies of the United Nations pass resolutions that contain operating paragraphs that begin with the words “requests”, “calls upon”, or “encourages”, which the Secretary-General interprets as a mandate to set up a temporary organization or do something. These mandates can be as little as researching and publishing a written report, or mounting a full-scale peacekeeping operation (usually the exclusive domain of the Security Council).
Although the specialized institutions, such as the WHO, were originally set up by this means, they are not the same as mandates because they are permanent organizations that exist independently of the UN with their own membership structure. One could say that original mandate was simply to cover the process of setting up the institution, and has therefore long expired. Most mandates expire after a limited period and require renewal from the body, which set them up.
One of the outcomes of the 2005 World Summit was a mandate (labelled id 17171) for the Secretary-General to “review all mandates older than five years originating from resolutions of the General Assembly and other organs”. To facilitate this review and to finally bring coherence to the organization, the Secretariat has produced an on-line registry of mandates to draw together the reports relating to each one and create an overall picture.
Greening the Blue
In 2007, On 5 June World Environment Day 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made public his ambition to make the United Nations more efficient in its operations: “I would like to see our renovated Headquarters complex eventually become a globally acclaimed model of efficient use of energy and resources. Beyond New York, the initiative should include the other United Nations headquarters and offices around the globe.” The UN’s progress towards achieving this goal is communicated through the initiative Greening the Blue (see external links below).
Over the lifetime of the UN, over 80 colonies have attained independence. The General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960 with no votes against but abstentions from all major colonial powers. Through the UN Committee on Decolonization, created in 1962, the UN has focused considerable attention on decolonization. It has also supported the new states that have arisen as a result of self-determination initiatives. The committee has overseen the decolonization of every country larger than 20,000 km² and removed them from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, besides Western Sahara, a country larger than the UK only relinquished by Spain in 1975.
The UN declares and coordinates international observances, periods of time to observe some issue of international interest or concern. Using the symbolism of the UN, a specially designed logo for the year, and the infrastructure of the United Nations System, various days and years have become catalysts to advancing key issues of concern on a global scale. For example, World Tuberculosis Day, Earth Day and International Year of Deserts and Desertification.
Top 10 donators to the UN budget, 2011
(% of UN budget)
Other member states 27.797%
The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. The General Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each member. This is broadly based on the relative capacity of each country to pay, as measured by their gross national income (GNI), with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income.
The Assembly has established the principle that the UN should not be overly dependent on any one member to finance its operations. Thus, there is a ‘ceiling’ rate, setting the maximum amount any member is assessed for the regular budget. In December 2000, the Assembly revised the scale of assessments to reflect current global circumstances. As part of that revision, the regular budget ceiling was reduced from 25% to 22%. For the least developed countries (LDCs), a ceiling rate of 0.01% is applied. In addition to the ceiling rates, the minimum amount assessed to any member nation (or ‘floor’ rate) is set at 0.001% of the UN budget. Refer to the table for major contributors.
A large share of UN expenditures addresses the core UN mission of peace and security. The peacekeeping budget for the 2005–2006 fiscal year was approximately US$5 billion, €2.5 billion (compared to approximately US$1.5 billion, €995 million for the UN core budget over the same period), with some 70,000 troops deployed in 17 missions around the world. UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale, but including a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members, who must approve all peacekeeping operations. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. As of 1 January 2011, the top 10 providers of assessed financial contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations were: the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, China, Canada, Spain and the Republic of Korea.
Special UN programmes not included in the regular budget (such as UNICEF, the WFP and UNDP) are financed by voluntary contributions from other member governments. Most of this is financial contributions, but some is in the form of agricultural commodities donated for afflicted populations. Since their funding is voluntary, many of these agencies suffer severe shortages during economic recessions. In July 2009, the World Food Programme reported that it has been forced to cut services because of insufficient funding. It has received barely a quarter of the total it needed for the 09/10 financial year.
The UN and its agencies are immune to the laws of the countries where they operate, safeguarding UN’s impartiality with regard to the host and member countries.
Despite their independence in matters of human resources policy, the UN and its agencies voluntarily apply the laws of member states regarding same-sex marriages, allowing decisions about the status of employees in a same-sex partnership to be based on nationality. The UN and its agencies recognize same-sex marriages only if the employees are citizens of countries that recognize the marriage. This practice is not specific to the recognition of same-sex marriage but reflects a common practice of the UN for a number of human resources matters. It has to be noted though that some agencies provide limited benefits to domestic partners of their staff and that some agencies do not recognise same-sex marriage or domestic partnership of their staff.
Main article: Reform of the United Nations
In 2005, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan published his report In Larger Freedom, a proposal for reform of the UN.
Since its founding, there have been many calls for reform of the United Nations, although little consensus on how to do so. Some want the UN to play a greater or more effective role in world affairs, while others want its role reduced to humanitarian work. There have also been numerous calls for the UN Security Council’s membership to be increased, for different ways of electing the UN’s Secretary-General, and for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.
The UN has also been accused of bureaucratic inefficiency and waste. During the 1990s, the United States withheld dues citing inefficiency, and only started repayment on the condition that a major reforms initiative was introduced. In 1994, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was established by the General Assembly to serve as an efficiency watchdog.
An official reform programme was begun by Kofi Annan in 1997. Reforms mentioned include changing the permanent membership of the Security Council (which currently reflects the power relations of 1945), making the bureaucracy more transparent, accountable and efficient, making the UN more democratic, and imposing an international tariff on arms manufacturers worldwide.
In September 2005, the UN convened a World Summit that brought together the heads of most member states, calling the summit “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations.” Kofi Annan had proposed that the summit agree on a global “grand bargain” to reform the UN, renewing the organization’s focus on peace, security, human rights and development, and to make it better equipped at facing 21st century issues. The World Summit Outcome Document delineated the conclusions of the meeting, including: the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, to help countries emerging from conflict; a Human Rights Council and a democracy fund; a clear and unambiguous condemnation of terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations”; agreements to devote more resources to the Office of Internal Oversight Services; agreements to spend billions more on achieving the Millennium Development Goals; the dissolution of the Trusteeship Council, because of the completion of its mission; and, the agreement that individual states, with the assistance of the international community, have the “responsibility to protect” populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity- with the understanding that the international community is prepared to act “collectively” in a “timely and decisive manner” to protect vulnerable civilians should a state “manifestly fail” in fulfilling its responsibility.
The Office of Internal Oversight Services is being restructured to better define its scope and mandate, and will receive more resources. In addition, to improve the oversight and auditing capabilities of the General Assembly, an Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) is being created. In June 2007, the Fifth Committee created a draft resolution for the terms of reference of this committee. An ethics office was established in 2006, responsible for administering new financial disclosure and whistleblower protection policies. Working with the OIOS, the ethics office also plans to implement a policy to avoid fraud and corruption. The Secretariat is in the process of reviewing all UN mandates that are more than five years old. The review is intended to determine which duplicative or unnecessary programmes should be eliminated. Not all member states agree on which of the over 7000 mandates should be reviewed. The dispute centres on whether mandates that have been renewed should be examined. Indeed, the obstacles identified – in particular, the lack of information on the resource implications of each mandate – constituted sufficient justification for the General Assembly to discontinue the mandate review in September 2008. In the meantime, the General Assembly launched a number of new loosely related reform initiatives in April 2007, covering international environmental governance, ‘Delivering as One’ at the country level to enhance the consolidation of UN programme activities and a unified gender organization. Whereas little was achieved on the first two issues, the General Assembly approved in September 2010 the establishment of ‘UN Women’ as the new UN organization for gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women was established by unifying the resources and mandates of four small entities for greater impact and its first head is Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile