Lecture Notes























































Six Principle Organs of the UN

The General Assembly is one of the six main "organs" of the United Nations.

We commonly think of the UN as a single organization. However, it is actually a complex network of related organizations. This network is called the United Nations System.

The UN consists of six principal “organs.” All but one of these organs are located at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The sixth principal organ—the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—operates in The Hague (a city in the Netherlands).

Principal Organs of the United Nations

General Assembly (GA)

  • The GA is the main organ of the UN.
  • Each member has one vote that is equal to the vote of each of the other members.
  • It’s the closest thing we have to a world parliament.

Security Council (SC)

  • The Security Council is the “police officer” of the UN.
  • The SC consists of 15 members:
    • 5 permanent members (P5)
    • The other 10 are “rotating” members. They are elected by the GA for two-year terms.

Economic and Social Council (ECOSCO)

  • ECOSCO is basically concerned with development.
  • It tries to improve the material well-being of poor countries.

Trusteeship Council (TC)

  • The TC was given the job of assisting in the process of decolonization that began after World War II.
  • It did its job so well that it “put itself out of business.” The TC is no longer active.


  • The Secretariat is the administrative organ of the UN.
  • The head of the Secretariat is called the Secretary-General.
  • The Secretary-General is the most visible spokesperson for the United Nations.
  • The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon of South Korea.

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

  • The ICJ is also known as the World Court
  • ICJ adjudicates disputes between member states, but it can only try cases if the members involved agree to adjudication. 


Check Your Understanding

  1. The complex network of related UN organizations is known as the ________________________.  
  2. List the six principal organs of the UN.


  3. In this organ, each member has one vote that is equal to the vote of each of the other members.
  4. This organ is the “police officer” of the United Nations.
  5. This is the administrative organ of the United Nations.
  6. This organ is the closest thing we have to a “world parliament.”
  7. This organ is also known as the “World Court.”
  8. Where are the headquarters of the UN located?
  9. Where is the International Court of Justice located?
  10. Who is the current Secretary-General of the United Nations?
  11. The Secretary-General is the head of what UN organ?