The International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) is the main judicial organ of the UN, settling legal disputes between member states and giving advisory opinions to the UN and its agencies. It consists of 15 judges, elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Only countries may be parties in cases brought before the Court. If a country does not wish to take part in a proceeding, it does not have to do so (unless required by special treaty provisions), but if it accepts, it is obligated to comply with the Court's decision.
The Secretariat works for the other five organs of the UN and administers their programs. With a staff of some 8,900 under the regular budget, working at headquarters and all over the world, it carries out the day-to-day work of the UN. At its head is the Secretary - General.
He plays a central role in peacemaking, both personally and through special envoys. The Secretary - General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which appears to threaten international peace and security. To help resolve disputes, the Secretary - General may use "good offices" to carry out mediation, or exercise "quiet diplomacy" behind the scenes. The Secretary - General also conducts "preventive diplomacy" to help resolve disputes before they escalate.
In many instances, the Secretary - General has been instrumental in securing a peace agreement or in averting a threat to peace. The current secretary general is Kofi Annan, who succeeded Boutros Boutros Ghali in 1997 (see appendix C).
Staff members are drawn from some 170 countries.
3.2 Security Council Activity
The Security Council 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.
When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council's first action is usually to recommend to the parties to try to reach agreement by peaceful means. In some cases, the Council itself undertakes investigation and mediation. It may appoint special representatives or request the Secretary - General to do so or to use his good offices. It may set forth principles for a peaceful settlement.
When a dispute leads to fighting, the Council's first concern is to bring it to an end as soon as possible. It also sends United Nations peace-keeping forces to help reduce tensions in troubled areas, keep opposing forces apart and create conditions of calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought. The Council may decide on enforcement measures, economic sanctions (such as trade embargoes) or collective military action.
A member state against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. A member state which has persistently violated the principles of the Charter may be expelled from the United Nations by the Assembly on the Council's recommendation.
The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, according to the English alphabetical listing of its member states (see appendix D).
The Council has 15 members - five permanent members and 10 elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term.
The following countries ended their two-year membership term on December 31, 1997:
" Republic of Korea
Each Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members. Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members. This is the rule of "great power unanimity", often referred to as the "veto" power.
Under the Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to take decisions which member states are obligated under the Charter to carry out.
Under the Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:
" to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
" to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
" to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
" to formulate plans for the establishment of a threat to peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
" to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
" to take military action against an aggressor;
" to recommend the admission of new members and the terms on which states may become parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice;
" to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in "strategic areas":
" to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary - General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court.
IV. UN ACTIVITY
4.1 UN Peace-Keeping Missions
United Nations peacekeepers, wearing distinctive UN blue helmets or berets, are dispatched by the Security Council to help implement peace agreements, monitor cease-fires, patrol demilitarized zones, create buffer zones between opposing forces, and put fighting on hold while negotiators seek peaceful solutions to disputes. But ultimately, the success of peacekeeping depends on the consent and cooperation of the opposing parties.
The UN does not have an army. For each peacekeeping mission, member states voluntarily provide troops and equipment, for which they are compensated from a special peacekeeping budget. Police officers, election observers, human rights monitors and other civilians sometimes work alongside military personnel in peacekeeping operations. Lightly armed for self-defense - and often unarmed - peacekeepers' strongest