United Nations and its Specialized Agencies U.S. Government Agencies

U.S. State Department News and Updates – The Office of Website Management in the Bureau of Public Affairs launched My State Department, an optional interface that allows users to customize their view of the vast electronic collection that comprises www.state.gov, for targeted, quick, and easy access to the foreign policy topics that they find most interesting.



Note: not a government agency

Civic Impulse, LLC, tracks Congressional actions for the public. It is one of the worldʼs most visited government transparency websites. The site helps ordinary citizens find and track bills in the U.S. Congress and understand their representatives’ legislative record. We bring together the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records, congressional district maps, and more. Once we get the information, we make it easier to understand and we let you track bills for updates with email updates and RSS feeds. GovTrack openly shares the data it brings together so that other websites can build other tools to help citizens engage with government. https://www.govtrack.us


UN United Nations – – the United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes: 1) to maintain international peace and security; 2) to develop friendly relations among nations; 3) to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights; 4) and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

The United Nations is not a world government and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflicts and formulate policies on matters affecting all of us.

There are five divisions: the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Secretariat, and International Court of Justice.

CEDAW The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.




Consultative Status Consultative Status – a phrase used for “Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.”


There are three classes of Consultative Status, General, Special & Roster and there are currently 3051 NGOs in consultative status with the ECOSOC.


The types of NGOs that can apply for consultative status include: the NGO must have a democratic decision making mechanism, must be in existence for at least 2 years in order to apply, the basic resources of the organization must be derived in the main part from contributions of the national affiliates, individual members or other non-governmental components.



CSW The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body.




DAW UN Division for the Advancement of Women – Grounded in the vision of equality of the United Nations Charter, the Division advocates the improvement of the status of women of the world and the achievement of their equality with men. The Division promotes women as equal participants and beneficiaries of sustainable development, peace and security, governance and human rights. As part of its mandate, it strives to stimulate the mainstreaming of gender perspectives both within and outside the United Nations system. www.un.org/womenwatch/daw


DESA UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs works closely with governments and stakeholders to help countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental goals. The work addresses a range of cross-cutting issues that affect peoples’ lives and livelihoods. From poverty reduction to governance to finance to the environment, DESA’s work is about human progress for all, especially the most vulnerable. DESA’s work is guided by the United Nations development agenda, which is rooted in the values of equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and mutual responsibility. Furthermore, with a focus on equitable participation by all people, the United Nations development agenda has unique, universal legitimacy. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/what-we-do.html


ECOSOC United Nations Economic and Social Council – one of five principle bodies of the UN, it was established as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. 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 has 54 members, all of whom are elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term.

ECOSOC is made up of Functional Commissions (including CSW and UNPD), Regional Commissions and Specialized Agencies (including ILO, UNICEF and IMF.)



GA United Nations General Assembly
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was first signed in 1947. The agreement was designed to provide an international forum that encouraged free trade between member states by regulating and reducing tariffs on traded goods and by providing a common mechanism for resolving trade disputes. GATT membership now includes more than 110 countries. http://www.gatt.org/


ICJ International Court of Justice – the principal judicial organ of the UN; 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).

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.




ILO International Labour Organization – the UN specialized agency that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. The ILO formulates international labor standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labor rights: freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work related issues. To get a more precise definition and avoid language ambiguity of what is non-formal work, the informal economy, homework, part-time work, formal employment, etc.  refer to ILO international standards known as Conventions and Recommendations and the Report VI on Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work. www.ilo.org


IMF International Monetary Fund – is an organization of 185 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. When a country borrows from the IMF, its government makes commitments on economic and financial policies—a requirement known as conditionality which were revised in 2002. (Note: Current US Federal Treasurer, Timothy Geithner, was the principle reviewer for this revised document.) http://www.imf.org/external/


INSTRAW UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women – works towards gender equality and the empowerment of women through its Gender Awareness Information and Networking System (GAINS), an internet-based research and training environment driven by a worldwide network. www.un-instraw.org


MDGs Millennium Development Goals The MDGs were eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges. They were adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. The MDGs were measured and replaced in 2015 by the Sustainable Development Goals.


NGLS United Nations Non-governmental Liaison Service – promotes partnerships between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations by providing information, advice, expertise and support services. http://www.un-ngls.org/


SDGs Sustainable Development Goals officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of seventeen aspirational “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them.

1.      No poverty

2.      Zero hunger

3.      Good health and well-being

4.      Quality education

5.      Gender equality

6.      Clean water and sanitation

7.      Alternative and clean energy

8.      Decent work and economic growth

9.      Industry, innovation and ingrastructure

10.   Reduced inequalities

11.   Sustainable cities and communities

12.   Responsible consumption and production

13.   Climate action

14.   Life below water

15.   Life on land

16.   Peace, justice and strong institutions

17.   Partnerships for the Goals

UHRI Universal Human Rights Index – The UHRI is an online tool designed to facilitate access to conclusions and recommendations made by the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  So far more than 1,000 documents have been indexed, with each paragraph classified by country, right, body and affected persons.  It already includes all concluding observations from the treaty bodies since 2006 and will soon provide access to recommendations made in the framework of the Human Rights Council’s UPR (see below.)


This tool that WG members can use, enables one to gain an international perspective on national and regional human rights developments, as well as an overview on cooperation between States and international institutions.”


UNAIDS United Nations AIDS – Through a series of goals, resolutions and declarations adopted by member nations of the United Nations, the world has a set of commitments, actions and goals to stop and reverse the spread of HIV and scale up towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.




UNCHF United Nations Center for Human Settlements Programme (also known as UN-Habitat in Action) – the United Nations agency for human settlements, mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. www.unhabitat.org,


UNDP United Nations Development Programme – the UN’s global development network of 166 nations that advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources needed to achieve Millennium Development Goals. www.undp.org
UNDPI United Nations Department of Public Information – provides up-to-date public information materials on the aims and activities of the UN in political, economic, social and humanitarian fields to a diverse local audience. www.undpi.org
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme – 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. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including NGOs. www.unep.org
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – contributes to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication. Conducts studies, facilitates knowledge sharing, and develops standards. Countries also have National Commissions, and within the USA it is a part of the US State Department. www.unesco.org



UNFPA United Nations Population Fund – an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.




UNGEI UN Girls Education Initiative – is a worldwide initiative designed to contribute to the elimination of gender discrimination and gender disparity in education systems through action at global, national, district and community levels. UNGEI is a division of UNESCO. www.unesco.org/education/efa/know_sharing/flagship_initiatives/girls.shtml
UNHCR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly, this agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.




UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund – advocates for the protection of all children’s rights. Goals among others: give children the best start in life, promote girls’ education, immunize all against common childhood diseases, all well nourished, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people, assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular, creating protective environments for children, and to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child (which the USA has not ratified.) www.unicef.org


UNIFEM UN Development Fund for Women – provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programs and strategies that promote women’s human rights, political participation and economic security. www.unifem.org
UNGA or GA United Nations General Assembly – one of the five principal organs of the UN; only one in which all member nations have equal representation. Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, receive reports from other parts of the UN and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions. It has also established a wide number of subsidiary organs.  It meets in regular yearly sessions which last from September to December, although it can reconvene for special and emergency special sessions. http://www.un.org/ga/


UNITAR United Nations Institute for Training and Research – delivers innovative training and conduct research on knowledge systems to develop the capacity of beneficiaries.  Through partnerships with other UN institutions, academies and the private sector, it makes it possible for UNITAR to consolidate and extend its capacity to provide a global platform for knowledge transfer. http://www.unitar.org/


UN-NGLS The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations. Provides email alerts. http://www.un-ngls.org


UNODC United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices.

UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

UPEACE University for Peace – Established as a Treaty Organization with its own Charter in an International Agreement adopted by the General Assembly. The UPEACE is to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress. http://www.upeace.org/


UNSC United Nations Security Council – has primary responsibility, under the UN 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.


The five permanent members of the SC are the USA, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the French Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Each permanent member has the power to veto any substantive resolution. Ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly.



UNU United Nations University – an international community of scholars, engaged in research, post-graduate training and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. It functions under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations and UNESCO. www.unu.edu
UPR Universal Periodical Review – The Human Rights Council (HRC) was mandated by the United Nations to undertake a universal periodic review of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx


WB World Bank – a source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. It is not a bank in the common sense, and is made up of two unique development institutions owned by 185 member countries—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). http://www.worldbank.org/


WUNRN Women’s UN Report Network is based on a UN Study, on the Status of Women, Religion or Belief, and Traditions. WUNRN addresses the human rights, oppression, and empowerment of women and girls all over the globe.WUNRN’s programs include the global ListServe and tools for gender advocacy and action and resources of authentic and in-depth information on women and girls. WUNRN regularly organizes High Level United Nations events on women’s and girls’ issues and rights at the UN in Geneva (Human Rights Council), NYC (Commission on the Status of Women and General Assembly), and FAO in Rome. http://www.wunrn.com/


WHO World Health Organization – the United Nations specialized agency for health, which seeks the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO’s Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.




Women, Peace & Security 1325 United Nations Resolution 1325  – passed unanimously on 31 October 2000, calls for the full and equal participation of women in conflict resolution and peace building. It is the first resolution ever passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women’s contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. All nations agreed to implement an Action Plan in their country; the USA State Department did this in 2011.


WomenWatch WomenWatch/UN Working for Women – – is a gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality throughout the United Nations system. It was created in March 1997 to provide internet space for global gender equality issues and to support implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/un


WTO World Trade Organization – the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. http://www.wto.org/


Other UN Agency Acronyms   http://www.osh.netnam.vn/html/THONGKE/ACRONYMS/acronyms.htm