The UN has several specialized agencies through which it operates and works for the social and economic development of the developing countries. Each agency has a particular agenda that it follows worldwide. Let us read the main functions of some of the important agencies:
1. UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND [UNICEF]
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund [UNICEF] was created by the UN General Assembly during the first session in 1946 to help the emergency needs of children in post-war Europe. In 1950, its program was extended to provide long-range benefits to children of all developing countries. Later on, its name was changed to United Nations Children’s Funds. UNICEF is governed by a 36- member Executive Board, which reviews UNICEF activities and approves its policies, country programs, and budgets.
UNICEF has its headquarters in New York and has more than 200 offices in developing countries.
For financing its projects, the UNICEF depends on voluntary contributions made by different Governments, donations made by private agencies, sale of greeting cards, and through various fundraising campaigns. The sale of UNICEF cards is an important source of income. The worldwide sale of these cards generates funds of more than $100 million, all of which is spent on programs to benefit children.
Almost all the sources of UNICEF are diverted to the poorest developing countries with the largest share going to children up to the age of five. Along with WHO, UNDP, and other United Nations agencies, UNICEF has achieved success in fulfilling its objectives.
The main objective of UNICEF is to look after children’s welfare especially in developing countries by providing people with low-cost community-based services in maternal and child-health, nutrition=n and immunization, etc.
UNICEF provides services in primary health care, nutrition, basic education, sanitation, and women’s development in developing countries.
The main functions of UNICEF are broadly divided into the following categories.
● UNICEF works for the protection of children for their survival, health, and well-being. This is done in cooperation with individuals, civic groups, governments, and the private sector.
● It provides funds for training personnel, including health and sanitation workers, teachers, and nutritionists. Universal Child Immunization against preventable diseases was one of the leading goals of UNICEF.
● It provides technical supplies, equipment, and other aids, ranging from paper for textbooks to equipment and medicines to health clinics, to pipes and pumps for bringing clean water to villages.
● It assists governments to plan, develop, and extend community- based services in the fields of maternal and child health, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation.
● It provides help to children and mothers in emergencies arising from natural calamities, civil strife, and epidemics.
● It makes an effort to prevent diseases like tuberculosis (T.B.), malaria, eye diseases, skin diseases, etc.
● UNICEF performs various other functions. As the sole agency for children, it speaks on behalf of children and upholds the Convection on the rights of the Child and works for its implementation. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in the year 1965 and the Indra Gandhi Prize for peace in 1989.
2. WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION [WHO]
The World Health Organization [WHO] is the United Nations specialized agency for health. It was established on April 7, 1948, when 26-members of the United Nations ratified its Constitution. April 7 is celebrated as the World Health Day every year.
WHO’s objective is the attainment of the highest possible level of health by all people. health is defined in WHO’s Constitution as a state of complete well-being and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.
WHO is governed by 194 Member States through the World Health Assembly. The headquarters of WHO are at Geneva in Switzerland.
The WHO performs the following functions:
● It helps countries to improve their health system by building up infrastructure especially manpower, Institutions, and services for the individual and community.
● It gives important drugs needed for medical care. The WHO launched a program to immunize children against six major diseases-Diphtheria, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis, polio, and whooping cough.
● It promotes research to cure and prevent diseases. For example, it makes arrangements for the investigation of cancer and heart disease in laboratories in many countries. These investigations help to identify disease-causing organisms to improve vaccines and to train research workers.
● It works towards providing safe drinking water and adequate waste disposal. The decade 1981 to 1990 was declared as the International drinking water supply and sanitation decade.
● It organizes conferences, seminars, and training for Healthcare Personnel from different countries.
● It aims at fighting diseases and preventing them from spreading. The malaria eradication program contributes to being the world’s biggest health program.
● It defines a standard for the strength and purity of medicines including biological products.
● It makes a special-efforts in combating diarrheal diseases which are known as Killers of infants and young children.
● It publishes health journals like the “Bulletin of the World Health Organization” to create a health consensus among the people.
3. UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION [UNESCO]
A conference was held at London in November 1945, for the establishment of an educational, scientific, and cultural organization. This led to the establishment of the UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] on 4th November 1946.
OBJECTIVES AND HEADQUARTERS
The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaborations among the nations. Collaborations through education, science, culture, and communication contribute to its objective. This is undertaken to further respect for justice, for the rule of law, and the human rights for all human beings.
The headquarters of UNESCO is in Paris.
The main functions of UNESCO in the field of education are:
EDUCATION– The largest sector of UNESCO’s activity is in the field of education.
● Removal of illiteracy by encouragement to adult education, distance education, and the open school system.
● Emphasis on the education of women and girls.
● Financial assistance for the education of disabled children.
● Provision of grants and fellowships to teachers and scholars, organization of library systems, and promotion of international understanding through education.
● Organization of book fairs and festivals at international and national levels. Here is an example: Development of a library system is an important component of contributing education. Delhi Public Library established in 1951 with financial assistance from UNESCO has developed into a big metropolitan public library system.
● Encouragement of science education by providing regional training centres.
● Promotion of education as an instrument for institutional understanding.
SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES– The scientific activities undertaken by the UNESCO are:
● UNESCO organizes seminars and conferences of scientists of various countries and circulates information through journals, press, and exhibitions. ‘Courier’ is the official monthly magazine of UNESCO. It’s Hindi and Tamil editions are also available in India.
● It promotes basic research in fields like geology, mathematics, physics, and oceanography. As a result, it finances engineering and technology schemes in several developing countries.
● It helps in correcting the imbalance in scientific and technological manpower that exists because 90 per cent of trained manpower is concentrated in the industrialized countries.
● It encourages the study of social sciences to focus attention on combating all forms of discrimination, improving the status of women, and helping the youth in solving their problems.
COMMUNICATION– UNESCO develops communication for dissemination of information.
● It has set up regional networks, trained technicians, and deals with both hardware and software aspects of informatics.
● It improves the quality of the Press, the films, and video services.
● It assists developing countries to develop communication.
● It upholds the freedom of the press and independence of the media.
PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE– It encourages modernization without the loss of cultural identity and diversity.
● UNESCO provides technical advice and assistance, equipment, and funds for the preservation of monuments and other works of art. It has prepared a World Heritage List to identify the monuments and sites which are to be protected.
● It aims to protect the world inheritance of books, works of art, and rare manuscripts.
● It encourages artistic creations in literature and fine arts.
● It pays attention to cultural development through the medium of films.
● It sends cultural missions to different countries so that there would be the development of contacts which may promote peace and prosperity. In the past, it has provided travel grants to writers and artists under a project named Mutual Appreciation of Eastern and Western cultural values. Under this scheme, India’s talented exponents of classical music and dance travelled to Europe and America.