Political Science Class 12 Notes Chapter 6 International Organizations

The United Nation [UN]

  • The United Nations was established in 1945 immediately after the Second World War. It was a successor to the league of nations which was formed after the First World War.
  • The objective of United Nations is to prevent international conflict and to facilitate cooperation among states.
  • In the UN Security Council, there are five permanent members (United Kingdom, United State of America, Russia, France and China) and other non-permanent members who are elected after every two years. The most important public figure of the UN is the Secretary General.
  • There are different structures and agencies of UN. These include World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC ), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) etc.

Reform of the United Nations after the Cold War

  • Reforms and improvement are necessary for any organisation to perform better. The UN is also not an exception.
  • There have been demands to bring reforms in the UN. Two demands have been raised i.e. reform of the organisation’s structures and processes and, a review of the issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the organisation.
  • On the reform of structures and processes, there has been the demand to increase the membership of permanent and non-permanent in UN Security Council.
  • On the issues within the jurisdiction of the UN, some countries want the organisation to play a greater role in peace and security missions.
  • While some other countries want the role of UN to be confined to development and humanitarian work.

Reform of Structures and Processes of the UN

  • A resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1992 over the reforms in the security council. The resolution reflected three main complaints.
  • To look into the complaints over the restructuring of the UN, on 1st January, 1997, the UN Secretary General Kofi Arman initiated an inquiry into how the UN should be reformed.
  • Criteria for inclusion of a new member was decided. Some of them were that a new member must be a major economic and military power, a substantial contributor to the UN budget etc.
  • Different governments saw advantages in some criteria and disadvantages in others depending on their interests and aspirations. A demand to abolish the veto power altogether was also raised. Many perceived the veto to be in conflict with the concept of democracy and sovereign equality in the UN.
  • Permanent members have two privileges i.e. veto power and permanency in the security council.
  • By veto power means that if a permanent member cast a veto in a negative manner then it may state the decision.
  • Without veto power, there is the danger that the great powers would lose interest in the world body and without their support the body would be ineffective.

Jurisdiction of the UN

  • A meeting was held in September 2005 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nation and to review the situation.
  • The leaders in this meeting decided some steps that should be taken to make the UN more relevant in the changing content. .
  • Steps include establishment of a Human Rights Council, creation of a democracy fund, an agreement to wind up the trusteeship council etc.

India and the UN Reforms

  • India has always supported the restructuring of the United Nations. It believes that a strengthened and revitalised UN is desirable in a changing world.
  • The most important demand of India is regarding the restructuring of the security council. It supports an increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent members.
  • It also argues that an expanded council, with more representative, will enjoy greater support in the world community.
  • India itself wishes to be a permanent member in a restructured UN. India is the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous country in the world.
  • The country’s economic emergence on the world stage is another factor that perhaps justifies India’s claim to a permanent seat in the Security Council.
  • Despite India’s wish to be a permanent veto holding member of the UN, some countries question its inclusion. They are concerned about Indo-Pak relations, India’s nuclear capabilities etc.

The UN in a Unipolar World

  • It is believed by many countries that the reform and restructuring of the UN could help the UN cope better with a unipolar world in which the US was the most powerful country.
  • The US stands as the only superpower after the disintegration of USSR hence US power cannot be easily checked.
  • Within the UN, the influence of the US is considerable. As the single largest contributor to the UN, the US has unmatched financial power.
  • The UN is not therefore a great balance to the US. Nevertheless, in a unipolar world in which the US is dominant, the UN can and has served to bring the US and the rest of the world into discussions over various issues.
  • The UN is an imperfect body, but without it the world would be worse off.
  • It is important for people to use and support the UN and other international organisations in ways that are consistent with their own interests.

Other International Organisations

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organisation that looks upon international financial institutions and regulations. It has 188 member countries. The G-8 members (the US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Canada, Russia), China and Saudi Arabia have more than 52 per cent votes in IMF.
  • World Bank is an important international organisation created during Second World War in 1944. It provides loans and grants to the member countries; especially developing countries.
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO) is an international organisation set up in 1995 as the successor to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). It sets the rules for global trade. It has 157 member countries.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organisation established in 1957. It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to prevent its use for military purpose.
  • Amnesty International is an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which campaigns for the protection of human rights all over the world.
  • Human Rights Watch is an international NGO which is involved in research and advocacy on human rights.


1. International organisations help countries to cooperate to create better living conditions all over the world and provide common platform to discuss contentious issues and find peaceful solutions, by a mechanism, rules and bureaucracy.

2. The United Nations was founded as a successor to ‘League of Nations’ immediately after the Second World Charter by 51 states on 20th October 1945 with the headquarter at New York.

3. The UN has 192 member states to prevent international conflicts to facilitate co-operation. The UN’s main organs are the General Assembly and Security Council. The UNSC consists of five permanent members i.e. the US, Russia, France, China and the UK, who enjoy Veto Power. The UN’s representative head is Secretary General.

4. The UN consists of many specialised agencies to deal with social and economic issues like WHO, UNDP, UNHRG, UNHCR, UNICEF, and UNESCO to work in an efficient manner and to bring world together.

5. After the Cold War, some of the changes occurred which affected the functioning of the UN
i. e. collapse of Soviet Union, emergence of China and India as rising powers, entry of new members, and confrontations with the challenges like genocide, civil war, ethnic conflict, terrorism, nuclear proliferation etc.

6. They faced two kinds of reforms over the time i.e. organisations structure and processes and a review of the issues that fall within jurisdiction of UN as why veto powers to permanent members only, dominance of powerful countries and to play more effective role in peace and security missions etc.

7. In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution over the reform of UN complaining no longer representation by contemporary powers, dominance of few countries based on western values etc. Following these in January 1997, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General initiated on “How the UN should be reformed?”

8. Since 1997 onwards, a new member to be added to the UN should fulfil the parameters of being a major economic and military power, contributor to UN Budget, a populous one, should respect democracy and human rights and to make council more representative.

9. In September 2005, the heads of all member states of the UN took the steps to make the UN more relevant by creating peace building commissions, human rights council, agreement to achieve Millennium Development Goals, condemnation of terrorism, creation of democracy fund and an agreement to wind up Trusteeship Council.

10. India is a big supporter of restructuring of the UN to promote development and cooperation among states, to composition of Security Council arid to include more representation in council for its political support.

11. Being a citizen of India, we would firmly support India’s candidature for the permanent membership of UN Security Council on the grounds to be second most populous country, largest democracy, initiations in the UN, economic emergence and regular financial contributor to the UN.

12. Some countries question India’s inclusion as permanent members in the Security Council on the basis of its troubled relationship with Pakistan, nuclear weapon capabilities, and if India included, some emerging powers (Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Africa) will also be accommodated. France and the USA advocate that Africa and South America must be represented for they do not have any representation in the present structure.

13. The UN can not serve as a balance against US dominance because the US is the only Superpower after 1991 and may ignore any international organisation economically and’ militarily, its veto power also can stop any move damaging its interests as well as enjoys a considerable say in the choice of Secretary General of the UN.

14. Despite the above mentioned strong activities of the US, the UN serves a purpose in bringing the world together in dealing with conflicts and social and economic issues. The UN provides a space within which arguments against specific US attitude and policies are heard and compromised.


1. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
(a) At the international level, overseas financial institutions and regulations.
(b) It consists of 180 members. Out of them, G-8 members enjoy more powers i.e. the US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada and Russia except China and Saudi Arabia.
(c) The US alone enjoys 16.75% voting rights.

2. World Bank
(a) It was created in 1944.
(b) It works for human development, agriculture and rural development, environmental protection, infrastructure and governance and provides loans and grants to developing countries.
(c) It is criticised for setting the economic agenda of poorer nations, attaching stringent conditions to its loans and forcing free market reforms.

3. WTO-World Trade Organisation
(a) An international organisation to set the rules for global trade which was set up in 1995 as a successor to General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and has 157 members, (as on 1 September 2012)
(b) Major economic powers such as the US, EU and Japan have managed to use the WTO to frame rules of trade to advance their own interests.
(c) The developing countries often complain of non-transparent procedure and being pushed around by big powers.

4. IAEA-International Atomic Energy Agency
(a) It was established in 1957 to implement US president Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” proposal.
(b) It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to prevent its use for military purpose.
(c) IAEA teams regularly inspect nuclear facilities all over the world to ensure that civilian reactors are not being used for military purposes.

5. Amnesty International
(a) An NGO to campaign for the protection of human rights all over the world.
(b) It prepares and publishes reports on human rights to research and advocate human rights.
(c) Governments are not always happy with these reports since a major focus of Amnesty is the misconduct of government authorities.

6. Human Rights Watch
(a) Another international NGO involved in research and advocacy of human rights.
(b) The largest international human rights organisation in the US.
(c) It draws the global media’s attention to human rights abuses.
(d) It helped in building international coalitions like the campaigns to ban landmines, to stop the use of child-soldier and to establish the international criminal court.


  1. UN Charter: A constitution of the UN to deal with objectives of the UN.
  2. Veto: It is a negative vote to be enjoyed by five permanent members of Security Council to stop a decision.
  3. Secretary General: A representative head of the UN to prepare an annual record of the UN activities.
  4. WHO: World Health Organisation to deal with matters related to health.
  5. UNICEF: United Nation’s Children Fund to deal with child welfare.
  6. UNESCO: United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to deal with promotion of education, science and culture.
  7. Peace Keeping Operation: A mechanism for restoring peace and security by sending UN controlled troops in the affected area.


  1. August 1941: Signing of the Atlantic Charter by the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British PM Winston S. Churchill.
  2. January 1942: 26 Allied nations fighting against the Axis Powers meet in Washington D.C., to support the Atlantic Charter and sign the ‘Declaration by United Nations’.
  3. December 1943: Tehran Conference Declaration of the three powers (US, Britain and Soviet Union)
  4. February 1945: Yalta Conference of the ‘Big Three’ (Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin) decides to organise a United Nations conference on the proposed world organisation.
  5. April-May 1945: The 2-month long United Nations Conference on International Organisation at San Francisco.
  6. June 26, 1945: Signing of the UN Charter by 50 nations (Poland signed on October 15; so the UN has 51 original founding members)
  7. October 24, 1945: The UN was founded (hence October 24 is celebrated as UN Day).
  8. October 30, 1945: India joins the UN.


1. Trygve Lie (1946-1952) Norway: Lawyer and foreign minister, worked for ceasefire between India and Pakistan on Kashmir; criticised for his failure to quickly end the Korean war, Soviet Union opposed second term for him; resigned from the post.

2. Dag Hammarskjold (1953-1961) Sweden:
Economist and lawyer, worked for resolving the Suez Canal dispute and the decolonisation of Africa; awarded Nobel Peace Prize posthumously in 1961 for his efforts to settle the Congo Crisis, Soviet Union and France criticised his role in Africa.

3. U Thant (1961-1971) Burma (Myanmar):
Teacher and diplomat worked for resolving the Cuban Missile crisis and ending the Congo Crisis; established the UN Peacekeeping force in Cyprus; criticised the US during the Vietnam war.

4. Kurt Waldheim (1972-1981) Austria:
Diplomat and foreign minister; made efforts to
resolve the problems of Namibia and Lebanon; oversaw the relief operation in Bangladesh, China blocked his bid for a third term.

5. Javier Perez de Cuellar (1982-1991) Peru:
Lawyer and diplomat, worked for peace in Cyprus, Afghanistan and El Salvador; mediated between Britain and Argentina after the Falklands war; negotiated for the independence of Namibia.

6. Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996) Egypt:
Diplomat, jurist, foreign minister; issued a report, ‘An Agenda for Peace’; conducted a successful UN operation in Mozambique; blamed for the UN failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda; due to serious disagreements, the US blocked a second term for him.

7. Kofi A. Annan (1997-2006) Ghana:
UN official, created the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; declared the US-led invasion of Iraq as an illegal act; established the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council in 2005; awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

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