Organs of the United Nations

International Relations Essay on Organs of the United Nations

Organs of the United Nations

The United Nations is an international organization of independent countries. The countries that are members of this organization join at free will with the aim of working towards global peace, enhancing friendship among all nations, and promoting social and economic progress. The United Nations was established on October 24, 1945, with 51 countries as the members. However, the membership had significantly risen to 192 member states as at March 2007. The organization is round table for almost all countries across the world. It offers the member states a platform for seeking solutions to problems or disputes, and also coming up with actions on matters related to humanity. It relies on the political will of member states to have its resolutions implemented and depends on their contributions to effectively carry out its operations (The Six main UN organs 1).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Also known as the world court, the International Court of Justice is the main judicial organ of the United Nations. The court is presided over by 15 judges, with each drawn from a different country (The Six main UN organs 1).


  • Adjudication of disputes tabled before it by states as provided for by the international law.
  • Offering advisory opinions on questions of law submitted to it by the United Nations Security Council, General Assembly, and other authorized agencies by the UN General Assembly.

All the nations that have accepted the jurisdiction of the court must act in compliance with all the decisions made by it (The Six main UN organs 1).

Factors that have hindered the effective operations of the ICJ

The does not have an enforcement arm- Compared to other courts, the ICJ does not have police officers that it can look up to in the event that a state party fails to comply with its decisions. Even though the UN charter mandates the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions or recommend military action in the case that a nations fails to honor the court’s ruling, to date, it has not been able to take such kind of measures. Because of this, the enforcement of the decisions of the court greatly depends on the consent of the states to which the rulings are addressed to comply with them (Greenwood 247).

The court has also very limited jurisdiction- Currently, only 66 nations have submitted to the court’s jurisdiction under Article 36(2) of the Statute. However, many countries do not have a valid declaration. Among the permanent member states of the organization, only the United Kingdom has made a declaration under Article 36(2). France and the U.S withdrew their declarations in 1973 and 1984 respectively, while Russia and China are yet to also pursue such avenues. Besides, some states may also submit their declarations, however, with certain reservations. This is an implication that they exclude some of the disputes of their declaration. These limitations have significantly hindered the jurisdiction of the ICJ. This effect of this is that the court is incapacitated when it comes to hearing many legal disputes that could principally be subjected to its adjudication. On the other hand, there are also some disputes whereby the court only has partial jurisdiction. An example is the case involving DRC v. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, whereby the former accused its neighbors of invading its territory and committing crimes against humanity. Only the DRC and Uganda had valid declarations under Article 36(2). Therefore, the court was only able to hear the case against Uganda, and made its ruling in 2005. The court’s hands were tied when it came to the case against Rwanda since it is yet to make its declarations under Article 36(2) (Greenwood 246).


The UN Security Council should become the defacto enforcement arm of the ICJ. Besides, the Security Council should be made mandatory for enforcing the rulings of the court. This is an implication that the UN Security Council should not have the discretion on whether or not it shall implement the decision of the court. The enforcement measures should also be integrated in the statute.

With regards to the jurisdiction of the court, the member states should be encouraged to make declarations under Article 36(2). This process is both legal and political; hence, permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council should set an example in leading the way. This will encourage other member states to also visualize the merits of making declarations under Article 36(2) and consequently enhancing the jurisdiction of the court.

The Security Council


  • Preserving international peace and security with regards to the principles and objectives of the United Nations.
  • Investigating all disputes and situations that might end up into international conflicts.
  • Establishing a framework for the regulation of armaments.
  • Determination of acts of aggression or threats to peace and recommendation of necessary action.
  • Recommending economic sanctions by member states and other non-military measures to stop or prevent aggression.
  • Undertaking military action against any perpetrator (Functions and Powers of the United Nations Security Council 1).

Factors that have hindered the Effectiveness of the Security Council

The fact that the council is dominated by powerful nuclear nations leads them to often block actions through their veto powers. An example of a recent case is Russia and the plebiscite in the Crimea. When the matter was brought before the United Nations, Russia vetoed the resolution that had declared illegal, the Crimea plebiscite.

On the other hand, the members of the Council often fail to reach an agreement on key issues that threaten the international peace and security. For instance, before America unleashed war on Iraq, it approached the UN Security Council requesting for action to go ahead with disarmament in Iraq. However, the members of the council could strike an agreement since France, China and Russia announced that they will block the use of force against Iraq (Glennon 17).

There has also been an emergence of factions within the council that has greatly impacted its effectiveness. The rise of the United States on the global platform has created collations of competitors within the council. France, China and Russia are determined to come up with an alternative force that can outdo the military and political power of the United States. This division continues to hamper the operations of the council as each side seems to be pulling towards a different direction although, the United Nations rules are supposed to be universally applied (Glennon 18).


The best way to solving the challenges facing the United Nations Security Council is formulating a new institutional framework to be adopted by the council. It would not be easy to do away with the problem if the institutional framework of the organ is not reengineered. It is important that policy makers should get back to the drawing board and come up with a new design of international legal order that reflects the dynamics of security, power and culture. The framework of the United Nations Security Council must also clearly lay out the actual ways through which countries should operate and the fundamental factors that require their response. As highlighted above, the challenges facing this organ are illegal, instead geopolitical. On the other hand, the Security Council should not only be preserved to the major powers. Various countries including even the smaller ones like Ukraine should also be given a chance to be part of the UN Security Council and make contributions in decision making.



MLA Referencing Style


“Functions and Powers of the United Nations Security Council.” United Nations Security Council, 2014. Web. 19 Mar 2014. <>

“The six main UN organs.” United Nations Association of Slovenia, 2014. Web. 19 Mar 2014. <>.

Glennon, Michael. “Why the security council failed.” Foreign Affairs, 82. (2003): 16. Print

Greenwood, Christopher. “Role of the International Court of Justice in the Global Community, The.” UC Davis J. Int’l L. \& Pol’y, 17. (2010): 233. Print


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