One of the priorities of Spain's foreign policy is the promotion of strong and legitimate multilateral institutions that allow progress to be made towards a peaceful and prosperous world in which the basic rights of the human being are protected and in which a development compatible with social cohesion and environmental preservation is promoted. To achieve this objective, the entity with the greatest global legitimacy is the United Nations (UN), which is the key to international peace and security, the promotion and protection of human rights and sustainable development.
Spain joined the UN on 14 December 1955 and has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council on five occasions. Spain has been actively involved in the Organisation, reiterating the need for the international community to be based on the pillars of security, development and respect for human rights, so as to resolve the great challenges of our time in a concerted and supportive manner.
The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945 in San Francisco. It sets out the aims of the organisation: the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of respect among nations, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and international cooperation.
The United Nations has become the global framework for most of the world's international activities, whether diplomatic, economic or humanitarian, and has been given a structure consisting of six main bodies. Five of them (the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat) are located at the New York headquarters. The sixth, the International Court of Justice, is located at The Hague.
José Manuel Albares together with António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. September, 2021. Photo: UN
Its highest authority is the General Assembly. All 193 Member States are represented in it and each country has one vote. In recent years an effort has been made to take decisions by consensus rather than by formal vote.
The Security Council is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as for recommending to the General Assembly its candidate for the post of Secretary-General and proposing the admission of new members to the United Nations. It is composed of 15 members, divided into two groups: permanent members (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China and France), which have the right to veto, and rotating members (a total of ten countries elected by the General Assembly for two years on a regional basis).
The judicial body of the UN is the International Court of Justice. It is the body responsible for settling disputes between countries and is composed of 15 magistrates elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
To ensure integral peace within the United Nations, a complex network of organisations and agencies of a universal and sectoral nature has been created, forming the United Nations System. These specialised agencies have been established by intergovernmental agreements, which, having international responsibilities in economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related fields, are linked to the United Nations by a specific agreement of attachment. Spain maintains a close relationship with all the specialised organisations participates actively in them and collaborates in the achievement of their objectives. The UN specialised organisations are: FAO, IFAD, IMF, ICAO, ILO, IMO, WMO, WIPO, WHO, UNWTO, UNIDO, ITU, UNESCO, UPU, IBRD, IDA and IFC within the World Bank Group.
On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute created the International Criminal Court, at the initiative of the UN. It is an international court with independent jurisdiction to put on trial those responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The International Criminal Court acts on the basis of the principle of complementarity with the national jurisdictions of the States Parties, intervening in cases where the latter do not or are unable to exercise jurisdiction.
With regard to sustainable development, in September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, which sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 integrated and indivisible targets covering the economic, social and environmental spheres. The Agenda implies a common and universal commitment; however, since each country faces specific challenges in its pursuit of sustainable development, States have full sovereignty over their wealth, resources and economic activity and each will set its own national goals in line with the Agenda.
United Nations Security Council
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations Secretariat