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The United Nations

Members area for Geography

IGCSE history United Nations Organisation

Structure and Organisation

Aims of the UNO

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  1. To keep peace throughout the world;
  2. To develop friendly relations among nations;
  3. To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms;
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

Structure of the UNO

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The General Assembly is the main organ of the UN and is made up of representatives of all Member States. The work of the United Nations comes largely from the orders given by the General Assembly.

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. Has 10 non-permanant and 5 permanant members, the 5 hold a veto.
Can make binding resolutions

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is the main coordinator for the economic, social and related work of the UN Voting is by majority; each member has one vote.

The International Court of Justice, located in the Hague, is the main judge of the United Nations. It settles legal disputes between states and gives advisory opinions to the UN

The Secretary-General is the face of the UN; chosen by General Assembly and Security Council. Can't be from a permanant member country. 5 year stints. Currently Ban-Ki-Moon

The Secretariat carries out the admin work . It serves other principal organs and includes administering peace operations, surveying economic and social trends, preparing studies on human rights, etc

UN and Korea

Structure of the UNO

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Early into its creation, the United Nations faced a test in the Far East, much like its predecessor (the League of Nations) had faced in Manchuria.

Stage 1: Background
Founded on the proud cultures of the Qing dynasty , Korea was ruled by Japan from 1896 after years of war. After Japan was defeated in WW2, Korea gained independence again. However, Soviet forces occupied the North, and US forces the South. To avoid confict, it was decided at Potsdam that the country would be divided at the 38th parallel.

Elections were held in each half of the country; in the North the Communist Kim Il Sung came to power, and in the Souththe nationalist Syngman Rhee.,

Stage 2: Northern Invasion
Seeking to unify Korea,, Kim il-Sung received support from Communist China and the USSR and invaded South Korea in June 1950.

The South Koreans were pushed right back down to Pusan.

Stage 3: UN Reaction
The Security Coucil was immediately summoned and met the same day as the invasion! The USSR was not present as they were boycotting the UN for not recognizing Mao's government in China. Therefore, there was no veto to block any US-led initiative

9 out of 11 countries on the Security Council supported the US motion that North Korea was acting illegally.

In June 1950, America called on the United Nations to use force to get rid of the North Koreans as they had ignored the Security Council Once again this was passed owing to the USSR's absence.

The UN then drew up battle plans. Their forces would be headed by an American - Douglas Macarthur; one of the most famous generals of his time. This went down well with the US public.

Stage 4: Battle
In September 1950, United Nations troops landed at Inchon. By doing this, they divided the North Korean army in two and pushed them out of South Korea. MacArthur sought a quick end to the war and pushed even further into the North. The Chinese had no option but to defend their buffer zone and so launched an invasion back in January 1951.

By throwing men at the situation, the Chinese pushed the UN forces back; their one advantage was their numbers!

The Americans, under the UN, landed more troops. They used bombers. The Chinese admitted to losing 390,000 men - UN sources put the figure at up to a million Chinese and half a million North Koreans dead. The Americans drove the Chinese back, but lost 54,000 American soldiers dead doing so. MacArthur reached the 38th parallel in March 1951.

After an argument with President Truman, MacArthur was sacked and the war became bogged down; neither side wanted to lose more men.

Stage 5: Solutions
In 1953, a ceasefire was agreed at the 38th parallel ... where it had all begun.

Consequences of Korea

Mixed results were had as a result of the war; on the one hand, the UN had avoided becoming what the LON was, by taking quick action against North Korea. The South had, after all, been protected.

Nevertheless, it was obvious that this had happened by freak chance; The USSR could easily have blocked it. In fact, the USSR had rejoined the UN in order to block many more resolutions.

To solve this issue ‘Uniting For Peace’ was introduced. This was a document that claimed that if the Security Council vetoed any initiative that was considered important for maintaining peace, the General Assembly should take over to and have the vote. The USSR refused to listen to it though.

So angry were the Soviet's with the UN's behaviour that they refused to back the Secretary-General (Trygve Lie) who was forced to resign.

Finally, it was obvious to the world that the United Nations was heavily influenced by America – nearly 90% of all army personnel, 93% of all air power and 86% of all naval power for the Korean War had come from America.


UN and Congo

Structure of the UNO

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If Korea was met with mixed results, the waters were muddied even more in Congo. This topsy-turvy, twisty-turny African episode can offen be confusing owing to the amount of people involved. Did the UN do well here or was this a reason why they were so hesitant to get involved in Africa again, when they were really needed, in Rwanda '94?

Stage 1: Background
The region known as Congo became known to Europeans after Henry Morton Stanley explored it at King Leopold II of Belgium's request. At the Conference of Berlin in 1885, when European nations divided up Africa between them, Leopold got Congo and called it the Congo Free State. Later, when he gave up rights to the Belgium Parliament it became known as the Belgium Congo. The natives hated the Belgiums because of the terrible conditions they were made to work in, so taht the Belgiums could benefit

2. After fighting for the Belgians in World War Two, the Congolese began to become increasingly disatisfied with Belgium rule. A series of revolts in the capital -Leopoldville - increased the pace of independence reform and - after international pressure grew - Belgium gave independece to Congo on 30 June 1960, with Joseph Kasavubu as President and Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister

Stage 3: Independence did not go well; the King of Belgium (now Baudouin I of Belgium) was not received well, whilst Lumumba made a speech which rallied against the Belgians and claimed 'we are not your monkeys anymore'. As a result, in the first few weeks there were many revolts against the white settlers throughout the country

4.As thousands of Europeans fled accross to neighbouring countries, the Belgian government decided to act to protect its citizens; paratroopers were sent in to restore order. Yet according to the UN charter, this was no longer acceptable as Congo was independent! In retaliation, the Lumumba ejected all whites from the army; there was little experience now.

5,Worse was to follow; the various tribal factions - seeing that Lumumba had little real power - began to break away. In the mineral rich area of Katanga Moise Tshombe declared independence with his rebel army. Backed by miners hoping to make a quick profit (as Katanga produced copper, 60% of the world’s uranium and 80% of the world’s industrial diamonds), Tshombe was a real problem.

6. Lumumba appealed to the UN for help under Resolution 143. At this time Dag Hammarskjöld was Secretary General. The UN force had 3 objectives:

1. Restore law and order and maintain it both internally and politically
2. Minimalize the conflict
3. Restore economic stablity
4. To Act in Self-defence only

7. Meanwhile another region - South Kasai - also declared independence Lumumba and when the UN refused to declare war on either Katanga or Kasai, Lumumba went to the USSR who provided air support and troops for a failed attack. This divided opinion in the USA, who began to support the rebels in retaliation (as part of the Cold War struggle).

by September 1960 the country was in chaos; Lumumba and Kasavubu had declared each other void, Katanga was independent under Tshombe and S.Kasai had also broken away. In fact there were four different regimes ruling various places

a) Joseph Mobutu in Leopoldville (supported by Western governments)
b) Antoine Gizenga in Stanleyville, (supported by USSR and Nasser in Egypt)
c) Albert Kalonji in South Kasai
d) Moise Tshombe in Katanga (supported by Belgium and western mining interests)

As civil war was about to break out, Lumumba was murdered and the UN convened the Security Council to avoid mass bloodshed. It was decided they would be allowed to use force. Meanwhile, it also continued to hold talks between the major parties and in August 1961 the factions agreed to hold a joint government with Cyrille Adoula in charge. However Tshombe disagreed, and the new government turned to the UN

The UN then launched Opertaion Rumpunch and Morthor against Katanga. 5000 UN troops flooded the region, forcing Tshombe to flee to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Just when it looked like things would be sorted out, Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash in Congo; some say his plane was shot down. U Thant replaced him and he finally authorized UN forces (in Operation Grand Slam) to take down Tshombe and reunite the country in January 1963. However, turmoil would continued to plague the country - Che Gueverra fought against the government and two years later Kasa Vubu was overthrown by former ally Mobuto