UN Agencies, Funds, Programmes
The UN system, also known unofficially as the “UN family”, is made up of the UN itself and many affiliated programmes, funds, and specialized agencies, all with their own membership, leadership, and budget. The programmes and funds are financed through voluntary rather than assessed contributions. The Specialized Agencies are independent international organizations funded by both voluntary and assessed contributions.
UNDP: Tom CheathamUNDP subsidized school fees and building repairs in Chin State, Myanmar.
Funds and Programmes
The United Nations Development Programme works in nearly 170 countries and territories, helping to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience so countries can sustain progress. As the UN’s development agency, UNDP plays a critical role in helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
UNEP (UN Environment)
The United Nations Environment Programmeestablished in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.
The United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
The mission of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
The World Food Programme aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. It is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. Every year, the programme feeds almost 80 million people in around 75 countries.
UN Specialized Agencies
The UN specialized agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations. All were brought into relationship with the UN through negotiated agreements. Some existed before the First World War. Some were associated with the League of Nations. Others were created almost simultaneously with the UN. Others were created by the UN to meet emerging needs.
The Food and Agriculture Organizationleads international efforts to fight hunger. It is both a forum for negotiating agreements between developing and developed countries and a source of technical knowledge and information to aid development.
The International Civil Aviation Organization develops standards for global air transport and assists its 192 Member States in sharing the world’s skies to their socio-economic benefit.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development, since it was created in 1977, has focused exclusively on rural poverty reduction, working with poor rural populations in developing countries to eliminate poverty, hunger and malnutrition; raise their productivity and incomes; and improve the quality of their lives.
The International Labor Organizationpromotes international labor rights by formulating international standards on the freedom to associate, collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labor, and equality of opportunity and treatment.
The International Monetary Fund fosters economic growth and employment by providing temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment and technical assistance. The IMF currently has $28 billion in outstanding loans to 74 nations.
The International Maritime Organizationhas created a comprehensive shipping regulatory framework, addressing safety and environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, security, and efficiency.
The International Telecommunication Union is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies. It is committed to connecting all the world’s people – wherever they live and whatever their means. Through our work, we protect and support everyone’s fundamental right to communicate
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization focuses on everything from teacher training to helping improve education worldwide to protecting important historical and cultural sites around the world. UNESCO added 28 new World Heritage Sites this year to the list of irreplaceable treasures that will be protected for today’s travelers and future generations.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
The World Tourism Organization is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
The Universal Postal Union is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players. It helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.
The World Health Organization is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations system. The objective of WHO is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health, as defined in the WHO Constitution, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
The World Intellectual Property Organizationprotects intellectual property throughout the world through 23 international treaties.
The World Meteorological Organizationfacilitates the free international exchange of meteorological data and information and the furtherance of its use in aviation, shipping, security, and agriculture, among other things.
The World Bank focuses on poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards worldwide by providing low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, and communications, among other things. The World Bank works in over 100 countries.
- International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
- International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)*
- International Development Association (IDA)
- International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)*
* International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) are not specialized agencies in accordance with Articles 57 and 63 of the Charter, but are part of the World Bank Group.
Other Entities and Bodies
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is the United Nations body responsible for dealing with development issues, particularly international trade – the main driver of development.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR protects refugees worldwide and facilitates their return home or resettlement.
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research is a voluntarily funded autonomous institute within the United Nations. An impartial actor, the Institute generates ideas and promotes action on disarmament and security. UNIDIR brings together states, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia to work together—internationally, regionally and locally—to build and implement creative solutions that will benefit all states and peoples.
An autonomous UN body established in 1963, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research is a training arm of the United Nations System, and has the mandate to enhance the effectiveness of the UN through diplomatic training, and to increase the impact of national actions through public awareness-raising, education and training of public policy officials.
The mission of the United Nations Office for Project Services is to help people build better lives and help countries achieve peace and sustainable development. UNOPS helps the UN, governments and other partners to manage projects, and deliver sustainable infrastructure and procurement in an efficient way.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees. It’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict. It reports only to the UN General Assembly.
The United Nations System Staff College is the learning organization of the United Nations system. It designs and delivers learning programmes for staff of the UN system and its partners. It helps the United Nations become more effective by fostering a common leadership and management culture across the system.
UN Women merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focus exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization promotes the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (which is not yet in force) and the build-up of the verification regime so that it is operational when the Treaty enters into force.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, is the world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
The International Organization for Migration works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. OPCW Member States work together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.
The UNFCCC Secretariat (UN Climate Change) was established in 1992 when countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With the subsequent adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015, Parties to these three agreements have progressively reaffirmed the Secretariat’s role as the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change.
The World Trade Organization is a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements, and a place where member governments try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.
See also UN System Chart