United Nations

When thinking of international actors, states come to mind for many. However, international actors can be most simply defined as any person, organization, or territory that has any economic or political influence on international affairs. Many intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations are international actors. Founded in 1945, the United Nations is one of the best known of intergovernmental organizations and is most definitely an international actor.

The composition of the United Nations is quite simple. There are 185 member countries in the United Nations and, in the General Assembly, each member has one vote. The Security Council is made up of five permanent members (United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom, and China) and ten members that serve two-year terms. The Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 members, serving three-year terms, each with one vote. The Trusteeship Council has five members, each with one vote. Fifteen judges head the International Court of Justice, each serving a nine-year term. Finally, there are many associated agencies, including the World Heath Organization, the World Bank, and the Food and Agricultural Organization. For the most part, the United Nations is very democratic; however in, for example, the Security Council, the five permanent members could overrule the majority with a simple veto. This organization is structured like governments in many countries and makes decisions affecting most of the world, therefore, the United Nations is an international actor.

One of the United Nations' foremost goals is to promote international cooperation, peace, and security. This effects many countries both politically and economically; it strives to prevent international conflict, limit the severity of the violence if it does occur, and restore peace in the aftermath. It is the belief of the United Nations that military force should be used only in self-defense

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