Although the spread of the coronavirus has been relatively slow in South and Southeast Asia, the United Nations and its partners are working to save the densely populated and disaster-prone region from the impact of COVID-19, which would bring further human suffering to vulnerable people like the Rohingya refugees. The spread of COVID-19 in the region has been comparatively slow, adopting early and aggressive physical distancing measures. In the coming weeks and months, each State will experience varying levels of transmission, and will need to calibrate its response accordingly.
Mobina Khatun is a Rohingya woman volunteer with UN Women.
The ActNow Climate Campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world will be engaged to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.
With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.
Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.
L’Horta is an irrigation system declared by FAO as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). Located in the city of Valencia, it provides healthy food to a million and a half Valencians. Thanks to L’Horta, 6 000 family farms, including 10 fisheries, guarantee food reaches not only the Community of Valencia but also other communities and towns outside its borders. This irrigation system and use of water is an example of agriculture adapting to climatic conditions.
The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances officially enters into force and can begin improving earning conditions for actors and other audiovisual performers – a development with added importance amid the negative impact on cultural production by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Treaty is designed to help audiovisual performers – television and film actors, musicians, dancers, and others – many of whom live from job to job in precarious economic circumstances.
The song Protect your Life, by the Raised Fists collective of Niger, raises awareness of, and mobilizes against, the spread of COVID-19 across Africa. The song makes part of the UNESCO online campaign #DontGoViral. This crowdsourced creative content addresses the urgent need for culturally relevant openly licensed information in African languages to inform communities about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat the “infodemic” spreading misinformation about the virus.
With health systems stretched, movement restrictions in place and concerns about disease exposure in health-care settings, mothers and midwives are risking their own health and lives to bring new life into the world. The pandemic is limiting sexual and reproductive health services around the world. This May, UNFPA applauds midwives and celebrates mothers, and calls for partners and governments around the world to take every possible step to ensure their safety and health.
UNCTAD works with farmers and other local players in Angola’s coffee sector to assess how producers and exporters can better position themselves within the global value chain. The country aims to reclaim its former glory as one of Africa’s top coffee exporters to diversify an economy that has become highly dependent on oil exports. Coffee grown in Angola’s highlands once provided half of its foreign exchange earnings until the nation fell into a decades-long civil war.
UNIDO-supported Waste-to-Energy South Africa Project works to improve awareness and capacity surrounding the benefits of biogas, with a focus on harnessing energy produced from organic waste, mainly from the agro-processing industries. The project targets both industrial biogas and domestic biogas in rural settings. To catalyze youth employment and strengthen rural economies in South Africa, the project trains youth to construct and maintain domestic biogas digesters.
Radiation is an effective and established tool to sterilize personal protective equipment (PPE) that is in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, except for respiratory face masks as it weakens their filters, according to the UN atomic energy agency (IAEA). The IAEA reviewed findings from five institutions that tested the use of ionizing radiation to sterilize gear. Shortages in protective equipment for staff on the frontline continue to pose a problem in many countries.
The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
Protect Human Rights
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid
One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild. The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
Promote Sustainable Development
From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.
The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).
The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.
While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.
In 2020, the United Nations turns 75. UN75 aims to build a global vision for the year 2045, the UN's centenary; to increase understanding of the threats to that future; and to drive collective action to realize that vision. #Join the Conversation #Be the Change
As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone.
Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Helping midwives train
New health training facilities for aspiring midwives are helping Ghana build a future where better healthcare can be a reality for all its people.
How is WHO responding to COVID-19?
Since the onset of the pandemic, WHO has been central the global response to the pandemic: by speeding up research and development, helping countries with their national plans, providing response supplies, as well as helping people protect themselves and others.
Keeping food supply chains moving amid #COVID19
Food and agriculture are being affected as a result of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries combat this pandemic, health is the top priority, but good health also depends on the availability and access to food. Countries must make every effort to keep food value chains moving, from farm to fork.
Cultural sector may be last to regain ‘normalcy’ after pandemic: UNESCO
With cancelled concerts, postponed festivals, and closed cinemas and theatres, artists across the world are struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the cultural and creative industries worldwide.
The UN education and cultural agency, UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, is a platform for international cooperation, boasting more than 240 cities sharing a common commitment to harness creativity as the driving force behind sustainable development.
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Empowering and protecting rural women in the time of coronavirus
Asabe Danjuma is the Chairperson of a flourishing cooperative. Thanks to the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), a joint effort between IFAD, the Government of Nigeria and the private sector, Asabe and her 75-member-strong cooperative have seen life-changing transformations in their community. The women have built a sustainable business that has created jobs and increased incomes in their community – and also contributes to the country’s food security. Here, Asabe Danjuma (centre), together with some of the cooperative members.
Photo:UN Habitat/Julius Mwelu
Youth in Nairobi slum use murals to educate the community about COVID-19
A mural in Nairobi’s informal settlement of Mathare creating awareness of the importance of wearing masks to combat COVID-19. Young artists in Nairobi’s informal settlement Mathare are using their talent to educate residents about how to prevent COVID-19 through brightly coloured murals. A youth group, known as Mathare Roots Youth Initiative, came up with the idea after hearing about similar work in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. The youth were inspired during a UN-Habitat training for youth groups managing hand washing facilities in the informal settlement funded by the agency’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme in Mathare.
Before And After: How COVID-19 is changing humanitarian operations
Humanitarian needs were already at an all-time high before the Covid-19 pandemic and are now growing further. On May 7 the UN launched a global appeal to protect millions of people and stem the spread of the coronavirus in fragile countries. But just as humanitarian agencies try to gear up, they also must contend with the multiple new challenges that the virus brings with it. Aid agencies are now practicing physical distancing at distribution sites, dividing people into small groups and asking them to stay 1.5 metres apart from one another. Here, South Sudanese refugees practice social distancing as they wait to access a food distribution at Kakuma camp.
Ten-year-old Muna Zayed is one of around 1.7 million internally displaced children in Yemen, the world’s largest humanitarian emergency. The situation in Yemen is dire, and the need to reduce the additional strain of coronavirus spreading is urgent. Muna lives with her family in Al Sha’ab camp in Aden, in the south of the country, after ongoing fighting forced them to flee their home in Taiz. Muna’s school is closed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But she still wants to show the world what her day looks like. Here, Muna walks with a school friend to the camp’s main water tank to collect clean water for washing and cooking.