WHAT IS THE UNITED NATIONS?
The United Nations (UN) is a worldwide organisation which was founded in 1945 after World War II. It brings countries together to discuss world issues and make decisions about them. The UN is made up of 193 member states.
WHAT IS THE UNITED NATIONS TRYING TO ACHIEVE?
The UN’s primary aim is for international peace and security to be maintained and war to be avoided. The UN has four other aims:
- To protect human rights
- To deliver humanitarian aid – this means giving help to people who are in need.
- To promote sustainable development – this means developing in a way that ensures that future generations are also able to develop; for example, by making sure that natural resources do not get used up by the current generation.
- To maintain international law
WHAT IMPACT HAS THE UNITED NATIONS HAD IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA?
The UN has positively impacted Sub-Saharan Africa in four main areas:
Peacekeeping: Since 1960, numerous peacekeeping operations have been established in African countries. The most recent peacekeeping operation, called MINUSCA, was established in 2014 in the Central African Republic and it is still active now. It was set up in response to the country’s civil war, with the protection of civilians as its biggest priority. Some people have criticised MINUSCA because it has struggled to contain the violence. However, it has had some successes. For example, in 2017 it made the city of Bambari free of armed groups.
Decolonisation: After the UN was established, it made a great effort to help territories – including those in Sub-Saharan Africa – gain independence from colonial rule. For example, the UN played a major role in making Namibia independent from South Africa from the 1940s to the 1980s.
Economic Growth: The UN has supported Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic development in many different ways. For instance, in 1958 the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) was established to promote economic and social development across the continent. It is still active today. One of the ways in which UNECA tries to achieve its mission is by promoting private investment in Africa. UNECA also produces reports on economic conditions in Africa to keep track of progress.
Gender Equality: Gender inequality is still a problem not only in Africa, but across the whole world. The UN has tackled gender inequality in Africa in different ways. For example, there is a branch of the UN called UN Women which works for the empowerment of women across the world. In 2014, UN Women helped to launch the Africa Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership (ACTIL). Through ACTIL, UN Women provides training to emerging and existing African leaders in politics, business, government and civil society, with a special focus on women’s empowerment and youth. Since 2014, ACTIL has trained over 1000 current and emerging leaders.
Photo Credit: Mathias P.R. Reding