Skip links

United Nations

United Nations

About the United Nations

United Nations Building in New YorkThe United Nations was founded in 1945 and is made up currently (2020) of 193 member states. The idea began in 1942 when 26 nations pledged to fight the Axis Powers. On 26 June 1945 the charter was signed by 50 countries with Poland becoming the 51st soon afterwards. The official declaration came into force on 24 October 1945.

This was not the first attempt to form an international body striving to achieve peace everywhere. In 1919 the League of Nations was formed under the Treaty of Versaille. The international Labour Organisation (ILO) was created as an affiliated agency under this treaty. The League was disbanded when it failed to prevent World War II.

The charter of the UN begins “We the peoples of the United Nations..” and it sets out hopes and expectations for us all. The Statute of the International Criminal Court is an integral part of the charter.

There are 6 main organs which include the General Assembly (GA), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In addition there are 29 other Entities and Bodies plus 6 related organisations. Of these the ones of most direct importance to us in SIGBI currently are:

  1. the UN Development Programme (UNDP);
  2. UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  3. UN Population Fund (UNFPA);
  4. UNICEF;
  5. World Food Programme (WFP);
  6. International Labour Organisation (ILO);
  7. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO);
  8. World Health Organisation (WHO);
  9. UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
  10. UN Women;
  11. International Organisation for Migration (IOM);
  12. UN Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Our access to the UN

ECOSOC is the agency which grants consultative status to NGOs such as ours. Currently (July 2020) 4045 have been approved. SI has general consultative status (reserved for large international NGOs whose work covers most of the work of ECOSOC) whilst SIGBI has special consultative status (reserved for NGOs with a more focused area of competence). This allows us to have delegates at some UN meetings but not all.

In order to try and link in with relevant activity at the UN, SI has 19 UN representatives in 7 UN centres across the world – New York, Geneva, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Nairobi and Bangkok. For the SI stance on current issues take a look at the ‘Where We Stand Statements‘.


Commission for the Status of Women (CSW)

ECOSOC Chamber in New YorkThe Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meets each year meets each year to review progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women, in particular through the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted in 1979.

It was established as a functional commission of ECOSOC in 1946. In 1996 CSW’s mandate was expanded to include monitoring and reviewing progress and problems in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) adopted in 2000, and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in UN activities. The BPfA is reviewed in full each 5 years and this was due to happen in 2020. However, Covid-19 arrived just before the meeting was due in March. The UN cancelled this 2-week event and, instead, held a virtual meeting to agree an outcome statement on one day only. This was a great disappointment to all since many people interested and working to implement gender equality worldwide (Sustainable Development Goal SDG5) were disenfranchised. Exploring the SDG dashboards will give you an up to date report on all SDGs….they make interesting reading! Sweden and Norway are the only ones showing green for SDG 5 (Gender Equality).

Since we are registered with ECOSOC we were going to have a delegation at CSW64, together with all SI federations and SI…. 80 soroptimists as accredited delegates. This happens each year – pandemics permitting! Many others were going too but unable to access the events in the UN itself whilst having much choice for events outside the UN itself. Altogether about 8000 people were intending to be in New York to lobby government delegations and UN officials. Hopefully, CSW 65 (15-26 March 2021) will take place…and we will be there!

All UN member states submit Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to the High Level Political Form which was mandated in 2012 to monitor progress with “The Future We Want“, the SDGs which are meant to be implemented by 2030. It met for the first time in 2013 and has done so each year since. The VNR countries are expected to submit comprehensive written reports that are made available in the VNR database. In addition, each VNR country provides main messages summarizing their key findings. These main messages are posted in the VNR database. There are major groups of NGOs which feed into this process – we are part of the Women’s Major Group.

There is still so much to do so join us and help to advocate for gender equality


Latest News

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June 2024

Elder abuse awareness is an important issue that we should all be concerned about. It…

World Food Safety Day – 7th June 2024

My association with food has been brought on by my upbringing in the Far East….

World Environment Day – 5th June 2024

The history of World Environment Day World Environment Day was first established by the United...