How the UN Works

This page contains some clarifications on the relations between the UEA and UN agencies, details on the structure of the UN, and other information that can help to provide an overview of the UN’s work.

Relations between the UN and NGOs

The UEA is in special consulting relations with the United Nations. It is represented in many UN meetings and maintains contacts with national UN organizations.
International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can formally associate with the United Nations in two ways:

1. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN collaborates with many NGOs, classed into three levels of collaborator status. According to its web site, “The basis for consulting relations between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations was presented in the mid-1990’s after detailed intergovernmental review, which resulted in ECOSOC-resolution 1996/31. This relationship is the main way in which ECOSOC receives contributions from NGOs in its debates and public meetings and in its subsidiary structures, as well as in international conferences of the UN and its preparatory structures… [The NGOs] have certain privileges to submit topics to the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary structures; they are permitted to attend meetings, where they can present written and give oral presentations to the governments.”

There are three categories of these consulting relations: Large NGOs whose work broadly relates to that of the UN have General Consulting Relations. NGOs whose work is less directly related to that of the UN have Special Consulting Relations. The third category are those NGOs that appear on the list of ECOSOC. The UEA has Special Consulting Relations. All NGOs must undergo a rigorous examination process in order to be recognized by ECOSOC, and remain in active collaboration.

2. The Department of Public Information (DPI), whose office is located in New York City, recognizes NGOs that agree to help disseminate information about the UN throughout the world. Currently, 1,300 NGOs are formally connected to DPI, among which is the UEA. DPI organizes regular information meetings for NGOs, and also an annual conference (in 2016 it occurred in Korea; the UEA was represented by a two person delegation). Its information center is open to NGOs, and it facilitates the formation of partnerships between the UN and NGOs on issues of shared interest.
The NGOs in collaboration with ECOSOC have their own organization, CoNGO (Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations), of which the UEA is also a member. The UEA is also a member of the CoNGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, which works mainly out of New York City, and the Committee on Peace, which works mainly in Vienna. The NGOs linked to the DPI also have their own committee, with which the UEA actively collaborates.
The UEA has an official link to UNESCO in the category of operational relations. The UEA is represented in UNESCO meetings and often is able to advise or collaborate on issues of shared interest.

Language at the United Nations

The current official and working languages of the United Nations are:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • Russian
  • Spanish

The languages used at the UN and their statuses have changed several times since its inception.
Learn more about the history of language at the UN here.