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UN_International_Court_of_Justice_logoThe International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America). The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French. Further information on the ICJ.

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ecosocThe Economic and Social Council (ECOSCO) was established under the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. The Council also receives reports from 11 UN funds and programmes. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system. It is responsible for:

  • promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress;
  • identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems;
  • facilitating international cultural and educational cooperation; and
  • encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It has the power to make or initiate studies and reports on these issues. It also has the power to assist the preparations and organization of major international conferences in the economic and social and related fields and to facilitate a coordinated follow-up to these conferences. With its broad mandate the Council’s purview extends to over 70 per cent of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system. Further information on the ECOSOC.

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UNHRCThe Human Rights Council (HRC)is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.  The Council was created by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.One year after holding its first meeting, on 18 June 2007, the Council adopted its “Institution-building package” providing elements to guide it in its future work.  Among the elements is the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism which will assess the human rights situations in all 192 UN Member States.  Other features include a new Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the revised Complaints Procedure mechanism which allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the Council.  The Human Rights Council also continues to work closely with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Council. Further information on HRC.

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scThe Security Council (SC) has primary responsibility, under the Charter,for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is so organized as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at United Nations Headquarters. On 31 January 1992, the first ever Summit Meeting of the Council was convened at Headquarters, attended by Heads of State and Government of 13 of its 15 members and by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the remaining two. The Council may meet elsewhere than at Headquarters; in 1972, it held a session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the following year in Panama City, Panama. Further information on SC.

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The International Court of Justice

Topics 1. Uruguay River pulp mill dispute: The dispute arose between Argentina and Uruguay between 2003 and 2005, when two European companies built two pulp mills (chemical farms to produce paper) on the shores of the Uruguay River, which constitutes the natural border with Argentina. The environmental safeguard and conservation of this river was protected …

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The United Nations Economic and Social Council

Topics 1. Possible Paths to Eradication of Extreme Poverty: As a Millennium Development Goal, the eradication of extreme poverty stands as one of the most important goals of both the UNDP and the UN. To be accomplished by 2015, the UNDP has delineated three target points: 1a. reduce by half the proportion of people living …

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The United Nations Human Rights Council

Topics 1. Freedom of Information in the 21st Century: Any state whose citizens are unaware of the acts of their government and their rulers, should not be considered as fully democratic. Nowadays, it is indeed appropriate to suggest that access to information is vital for a true democracy to be considered as such. In fact, …

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The United Nations Security Council

Topics 1. Reform of the Security Council: Being the most powerful institution of the United Nations, this essential organ with the clear mandate of addressing threats to international peace and security is often criticised for having too little impact, for being undemocratic and not representative of the international community (only fifteen representatives may address any …

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