United Nations system

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The United Nations system consists of the United Nations and related organizations.

Related concepts

The term agencies, funds and programmes is often used as a shorthand for the operational agencies within the system other than the Secretariat. In addition to the funds and programmes and the specialized agencies, the colloquial use of this term also covers other entities such as UNHCR and related organizations such as IOM.

The common system is often used as a shorthand for the organizations within the United Nations system that adhere to the common system of salaries, benefits and allowances.


United Nations

The United Nations consists of the six Main Organs defined in the Charter of the United Nations and their subsidiary organs, which can include committees, operational agencies or organs with characteristics of both[1]. For the purposes of this article, only the operational agencies are listed.

Main bodies

  • The General Assembly
  • The Security Council
  • The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • The Trusteeship Council
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • The Secretariat

Funds and programmes

The funds and programmes are subsidiary organs of the United Nations, under Article 7.2 of the Charter, and do not have separate juridical personality from the United Nations even if they are separately administered.

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
    WFP is a joint programme of the United Nations and FAO.

Other entities

A number of other entities are also considered subsidiary organs under Article 7.2 of the Charter.

  • International Trade Centre (ITC)
    The ITC is a joint subsidiary organ of the United Nations, via UNCTAD, and the World Trade Organization.
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)[2]
  • United Nations Office for Projects Services (UNOPS)
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) [3]
  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)

Specialized agencies

Specialized agencies are autonomous organizations whose work is coordinated through ECOSOC at the intergovernmental level and the Chief Executives Board (CEB) at the inter-Secretariat level, in line with articles 57 and 63 of the Charter. They are therefore not legally part of the United Nations, but are part of the broader United Nations system.

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)[4]
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (UNIDO)
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • World Bank Group[5]
    • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
    • International Development Association (IDA)
    • International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Related organizations

Related organizations are autonomous organizations with cooperation agreements with the United Nations. Although many are similar to the specialized agencies and may coordinate their work through the CEB, their cooperation agreements make no specific reference to articles 57 and 63 of the Charter.

  • Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO Preparatory Commission)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
    IAEA reports to the Security Council.
  • International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • International Seabed Authority (ISA)
  • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)
  • Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
    OPCW reports to the Security Council.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)

See also


  1. See Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs (1945–1954), volume 1: Article 7, paragraph 16
  2. UNHCR was previously considered an organizational unit of the Secretariat and not a subsidiary organ. See ST/SGB/1997/5 Organization of the Secretariat.
  3. See Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs (1945–1954), volume 1: Article 7, paragraph 16
  4. The IMF is not a member of the common system
  5. The World Bank Group is not a member of the common system