Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

How big is the UN and what does it do in Africa?

The United Nations is a powerful worldwide organization and the most represented entity in the world. Nairobi Kenya is where the UN Headquarters in Africa is located.

The two main offices of United Nations (UN) in Africa are in Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There are 17 specialized agencies through negotiated agreements that work on behalf of the UN and many other funds and programs throughout the continent of Africa working with the UN to carryout uphold international law, deliver humanitarian aid, protect human rights, promote sustainable development and maintain international peace and security.

South Sudan mother and son.

UN funds and programs are distinctly different from specialized agencies. Funds and programs are established by a resolution of the UN General Assembly and have a focused mandate. They are funded either mainly or entirely through voluntary contributions and have a governing body that reviews their activities. However, specialized agencies are legally independent of the United Nations and have separate budgets, members, rules, and personnel.

How big is the UN, well, it's huge. The UN has 17 specialized agencies, 12 funds and programs, 2 jointly financed bodies, 5 research and training institutes and 7 UN system organization entities and 8 other entities and bodies throughout Africa.

There are six official languages of the UN; Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Official languages are the languages in which all official United Nations documents are made available explaining the roles and purpose of the UN in Africa and the world.

The United Nations has five purposes:
Uphold International Law.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid.
Protect Human Rights.
Promote Sustainable Development.
Maintain International Peace and Security.

What programs, funds, and specialized agencies make up the United Nations in Africa?

The UN is an enormous system made up of the UN itself and many programs, funds, and specialized agencies. Below are descriptions of UN programs, funds, and specialized agencies on the continent of Africa.

Peacekeeping Operations in Africa.

United Nations member countries are composed of 15 members:

Five permanent members:



Russian Federation.

The United Kingdom.

The United States.

Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly:

Belgium term ending in 2020.

Dominican Republic term ending in 2020.

Estonia term ending in 2021.

Germany term ending in 2020.

Indonesia term ending in 2020.

Niger term ending in 2021.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines term ending in 2021.

South Africa term ending in 2020.

Tunisia term ending in 2021.

Viet Nam term ending in 2021.

Listing of UN specialized agencies and funds and programs in Africa.

The 17 specialized agencies of the UN in Africa:

International Labour Organization (ILO)
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in 1919, its Constitution forming part of the Treaty of Versailles. The ILO became the first specialised agency of the UN in 1946.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The aim of the Food and Agriculture Organization, as defined in its Constitution, is to: raise levels of nutrition and standards of living; secure improvements in food production and distribution; better the conditions of rural people and; contribute toward an expanding world economy and ensure freedom from hunger.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established in 1945 to promote the aims set out in article 1, para. 3 of the UN Charter. Its purpose, as stated in article 1 of its Constitution, is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, which provided for the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), was signed in Chicago in 1944. The Organization came into existence on April 4, 1947 after 26 states had ratified the Convention. Under article 44 of the Convention, the ICAO is charged with developing the principles and techniques of international air navigation, and fostering the planning and development of international air transport to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation throughout the world.

World Health Organization (WHO)
Representatives of 61 states adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution in 1946. The Organization formally came into existence on April 7, 1948 and became a UN specialized agency on 10 July 1948. Article 1 of the Constitution defines the WHO's objective as "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health". The detailed functions are set out in article 2 of the Constitution.

World Bank Group
Since inception in 1944, the World Bank has expanded from a single institution to a closely associated group of five development institutions.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organisation of 187 countries that works to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty.

Universal Postal Union (UPU)
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) was established by the Berne Treaty of 1874 and became a specialised agency of the UN in 1948. Article 1 of the Vienna Constitution 1964 states that the aim of the Union is to secure the organisation and improvements of postal services, promote the development of international collaboration and undertake, as far as possible, technical assistance in postal matters requested by members countries. To this end, the countries that have adopted the Constitution comprise a single postal territory.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was founded in 1865 in Paris as the International Telegraph Union. The 1932 Madrid Plenipotentiary Conference decided the current name, which came into force on 1 January 1934. The ITU is an inter-governmental organization that brings together governments and industry to coordinate the establishment and operation of global telecommunication networks and services.

The Department of Global Communications tells this UN story across multiple platforms, digital and traditional, to build support for the aims and work of the United Nations. Through global operations and offices in 60 countries, communicating in more than 80 languages and reaches millions of people with information and inclusive messages that enables the public, civil society, private sector and Member States to engage in the work of the United Nations.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the successor to the International Meteorological Organization, which was established in 1873. It formally came into existence in 1950 and became a UN specialised agency in 1951.

International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the UN specialised agency responsible for the safety of life at sea, maritime security and the protection of the marine environment through prevention of sea pollution caused by ships. It facilitates cooperation among governments to achieve the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and security, and efficiency in navigation.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system that rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and UN specialised agency dedicated to eradicating poverty in rural areas of developing countries. The Fund was established in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is the UN specialized agency mandated to promote industrial development and international industrial cooperation. The Organization's mission statement is: Partner for prosperity: UNIDO aspires to reduce poverty through sustainable industrial development. we want every country to have the opportunity to grow a flourishing productive sector, to increase their participation in international trade and to safeguard their environment.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
UNWTO is the UN's specialised agency in the field of tourism. It provides leadership and support to the tourism sector in the advancement of sustainable policies, practices and actions. Through the promotion and development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, UNWTO endeavours to maximise tourism's contribution to socio-economic growth, job creation, development, environmental conservation, cultural enrichment and international understanding, while minimizing negative social or environmental impacts. It pays particular attention to the interests of developing countries.

UN Summit on girls

UN funds and programs throughout the continent of Africa:

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
UNCTAD promotes the integration of developing countries into the world economy. Its work aims to help shape policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations lead agency for the UN development system. Its objective is to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies. It has a presence in 176 countries and territories, and provides expert advice, training and financial support. Special attention is paid to the needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and countries emerging from conflict.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was established by GA res. 2997 (XXVII) (1972) following the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It aims to provide leadership and encourage partnerships in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and people to improve their quality of life, without compromising that of future generations.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
The work of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is humanitarian and non-political. Its principal functions are to provide international protection to refugees and other persons of concern, including stateless people, and to seek durable solutions for them. Protection includes preventing refoulement (the involuntary return of a refugee or a person of concern to a country where he or she may have a well-founded fear of persecution) and ensuring that host countries follow international norms in the treatment of refugees.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established by the General Assembly (GA res. 302 (IV)) on 8 December 1949, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
The UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established by the General Assembly (GA res. 57 (I) (1946) to provide emergency assistance to children in war-ravaged countries following World War II. By GA res. 417 (V) (1950), the UN General Assembly charged it with addressing the needs of children in developing countries. GA res. 802 (VIII) (1953) extended UNICEF'S mandate indefinitely, with an emphasis on programmes giving long-term benefits to children everywhere, particularly those in developing countries, and changed the organization's name to the United Nations Children's Fund but retained the UNICEF acronym.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is a United Nations 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 programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

World Food Programme (WFP)
The World Food Programme(WFP) was established in 1961 by the General Assembly and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference as the UN System's food aid organisation. The WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the secretariat of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three supplementary protocols on: Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; Smuggling of Migrants; and illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms. It is also the secretariat of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption. UNODC promotes the ratification and implementation of all of these conventions and protocols through capacity building, training and technical assistance.

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
GA res. 32/162 (1977) established the Governing Council of the UN Human Settlements Programme and its Secretariat, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (previously known as the UN Centre for Human Settlements). UN-HABITAT, which has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, is charged with coordinating human settlement activities within the UN system and facilitating the global exchange of information on shelter and sustainable urban development.

UN Women was established in July 2010 by the General Assembly, resolution 64/289, to improve the coordination and coherence of gender equality and empowerment of women, and promote more effective gender mainstreaming across the UN system. It consolidated the work of four UN gender entities: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.


United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The UN Office for Project Services' (UNOPS') mission is to expand the capacity of the UN system and its partners to implement peace building, humanitarian and development operations that matter for people in need. Working in some of the world's most challenging environments, UNOPS' core services include project management, procurement, human resources management, fund management and UN common services.

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

UN other entities and bodies in Africa:

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research UNIDIR.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA.
International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA.

The UN has 17 specialized agencies 12 funds programs 2 jointly financed bodies 5 research and training institutes and 15 UN system entities in Africa.

The African Gourmet Logo.


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