Number of Staff:
  • 44,000
  • 60% work in field locations all over the world
Headquarters Locations:
  • New York
  • Geneva
  • Vienna
  • Nairobi
Regional Economic and/or Social Commissions:
  • Geneva: for Europe
  • Beirut: for Western Asia
  • Santiago: for Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Bangkok: for Asia and the Pacific
  • Addis Ababa: for Africa
International Criminal Tribunals:
  • The Hague: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
  • Arusha: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Number of UN Programmes and Specialized Agencies:
  • 40
Number of Peace Operations:
  • 28

Our work touches lives in every corner of the globe and our daily operations are complex, multifaceted and extended directly and indirectly to our 193 Members States.

The United Nations Secretariat which commenced operations in early 1946 was staffed with a mere 300 people working primarily for the Preparatory Commission and engaged in providing conference services for a fledgling world body that was beginning to chart a course to positively change the world. From that nucleus, it expanded within six months to about 3,000 employees. Three years later, in October 1949, the cornerstone was laid for what would evolve into the Organization’s sprawling Headquarters in midtown Manhattan in New York.

Today, the United Nations has evolved beyond the conference management services it provided in its early days and is now actively on the ground around the globe seeking solutions to the three thematic areas outlined in its Charter: peace and security; the protection and promotion of human rights; and human development. Since 1946 the Organization has gradually transformed itself into a global Secretariat with a workforce that now numbers some 44,000 specialized men and women.

In the last decade, faced with rapidly unfolding changes in the global arena, the Organization underwent a metamorphosis to be more response oriented; today the United Nations has become a more reactive field-based operation with 60 per cent of its staff working away from Headquarters in locations all over the world.

Our global Secretariat has offices in Geneva and Vienna as well as in Nairobi, with its economic commissions headquartered in specific capitals around the world addressing the socio-economic and developmental needs of the countries that belong to the five major regions of the world: Africa; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; Asia and the Pacific; and Western Asia.

Understandably, we are often associated with peacekeeping as this is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace and development. The first peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, with the deployment of United Nations military observers to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 63 peacekeeping operations around the world. Currently we have 16 peacekeeping operations and 12 political missions deployed across five continents. The latter provide a platform for preventive diplomacy and other activities across a range of disciplines, to help prevent and resolve conflict or to build lasting peace in nations emerging from civil wars.

In addition, other arms of our global Secretariat such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Environment Programme, have opened regional and country offices all over the world to enable them to respond more rapidly to emerging issues that require their expertise and assistance. In addition, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is located in Geneva with an office in New York while the Office of Internal Oversight Services, based in New York, offers services wherever its services are required around the globe.

Finally the network of United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) links the Organization’s Headquarters with people around the world. Located in over 60 countries, these field offices of our Department of Public Information help local communities obtain up-to-date information on the Organization and its activities. UNICs help people everywhere to be heard and to better understand what the United Nations is doing to make a difference in their lives.

Wherever help is needed and people are suffering you will find dedicated United Nations staff contributing their time, assistance and expertise to positively transform lives and make the world a safer and better place for this and future generations.

Click on the map for more detailed descriptions of some of our main global locations. The map identifies the locations of our many operations and the main ones are elaborated on in greater detail.

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