This United Nations system of organizations is comprised of main organs, specialized agencies, programmes and funds, research and training institutes, and a variety of affiated and related bodies. Below is a guide to this structure.
General Assembly. Main deliberative organ of the United Nations composed of representatives of all member states, each of which has one vote. The General Assembly has six main committees:
The General Assembly also has various other commissions, committees and subsidiary bodies. Some are treaty based, some established by General Assembly resolutions.
See the General Assembly's page on its subsidiary organs for more information.
Economic and Social Council. Principal United Nations body dealing with economic, social, cultural and health matters. Composed of eight functional commissions (see below) and five Regional Commissions, as well as forums, expert bodies, and standing committees. See in particular the NGO Section.
International Court of Justice. Principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Adjudicates legal disputes submitted to it by States and provides opinions on legal questions referred to it by international agencies.
Secretariat. Agency which carries out the day-to-day work of the organization, servicing other principal organs of the United Nations and administering programmes laid down by them. At its head is the Secretary-General.
Security Council. UN agency with responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security. The Council has 15 members-- five permanent and 10 elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.
Trusteeship Council. Principal organ of the United Nations assigned to the administration of territories under the UN Trusteeship system. Suspended operation in 1994, with the independence of Palau, the last remaining UN trust territory.
United Nations Research & Training Institutes are international bodies engaged in public policy research, capacity building, training, and technical assistance.
The UN Regional Economic Commissions are responsible for coordinating economic and social activities in their respective regions. They report to the Economic & Social Council but operate with a great deal of autonomy.
United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations joined to the United Nations via special agreements stipulated in the UN Charter. There are currently fifteen specialized agencies of the United Nations.
United Nations Programmes and Funds are international development organizations reporting to the General Assembly and/or the Economic and Social Council. For more information see the UN In Brief.
The following is a list of selected United Nations joint programmes (cooperative programs between one or more UN agencies) miscellaneous offices, and affiliated organizations.