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CBSE Notes – Class 12 Political Science Chapter 6 International Organisations

Chapter 6 – International Organisations

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    The United Nations [UN]

    • The United Nations was founded in 1945, shortly after World War II ended. It succeeded the League of Nations, which was established following World War I.
    • The United Nations’ mission is to prevent international conflict and promote international cooperation.
    • There are five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Russia, France, and China) and other non-permanent members who are elected every two years. The Secretary-General is the UN’s most visible public figure.
    • The United Nations has a variety of institutions and agencies. World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and others are among them.


    Reform of the United Nations after the Cold War

    • Reforms and improvements are required for any organisation to improve its performance. The United Nations is no exception.
    • There have been calls for improvements in the United Nations. Two demands have been made: reform of the organization’s structures and operations, as well as a review of the problems that fall under its purview.
    • There has been a desire for increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council as part of the reform of structures and processes.
    • Some countries want the UN to play a bigger role in peacekeeping and security missions when it comes to matters under its authority.
    • Others, on the other hand, want the UN’s role to be limited to development and humanitarian aid.


    Reform of Structures and Processes of the UN

    • In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on the Security Council reforms. Three major grievances were addressed in the resolution.
    • On January 1, 1997, UN Secretary-General Kofi Arman launched an investigation on how the UN should be restructured in response to criticisms about its restructuring.
    • It was settled on the criteria for a new member’s acceptance. Some of these included the need that a new member is a large economic and military power, as well as a significant contributor to the UN budget.
    • Depending on their goals and aspirations, many governments found advantages in some criteria and disadvantages in others. 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.
    • Veto power means that if a permanent member casts 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 on some steps that should be taken to make the UN more relevant in the changing content.
    • Steps include the 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 representatives, 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 the 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 percent 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 purposes.
    • Amnesty International is an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that campaigns for the protection of human rights all over the world.
    • Human Rights Watch is an international NGO that 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 a 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 in New York.

    3. The UN has 192 member states to prevent international conflicts to facilitate cooperation. 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 specialized 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 the world together.

    5. After the Cold War, some of the changes occurred which affected the functioning of the UN
    i. e. collapse of the Soviet Union, the 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 time i.e. organisations structure and processes and a review of the issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the UN as to why veto powers to permanent members only, dominant of powerful countries and to play a more effective role in peace and security missions, etc.

    7. In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution over the reform of the UN complaining no longer representation by contemporary powers, the 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. From 1997 onwards, a new member to be added to the UN should fulfill the parameters of being a major economic and military power, a contributor to UN Budget, a populous one, should respect democracy and human rights and make the 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 the 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 the UN Security Council on the grounds to be the second-most populous country, the 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 is 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 attitudes 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 for 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 of 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 procedures 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 purposes.
    (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 the 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 Nations’ Children Fund to deal with child welfare.
    6. UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to deal with the 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 a ceasefire between India and Pakistan on Kashmir; criticised for his failure to quickly end the Korean War, Soviet Union opposed the 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, the 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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