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Spain and the United Nations

One of the priorities of Spain's foreign policy is the promotion of strong and legitimate multilateral institutions that make it possible to move towards a peaceful and prosperous world, in which the basic rights of human beings are protected and in which development compatible with social cohesion and the conservation of the environment is promoted. To achieve this objective, the body with the greatest global legitimacy is the United Nations (UN), which is 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 an elected member of the Security Council five times. 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, in order to resolve the great challenges of our time in a consensual and cooperative manner.

The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945 in San Francisco. It sets out the organisation's purposes: 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 therefore established a structure composed 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 in The Hague. In 2020, on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, States tasked the Secretary-General with ideas to revitalise the organisation. The Secretary-General published our Common Agenda, which contains ideas for strengthening the UN in all its areas of action. 

All 193 Member States are represented in the General Assembly and each country has one vote. In recent years, an effort has been made to adopt decisions by consensus instead of formal voting.

The Security Council is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as well as recommending to the General Assembly its candidate for the post of Secretary-General and proposing the admission of new members of the United Nations. It is composed of 15 members, further divided into two groups: permanent members (the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France), which have the right of veto, and rotating members (a total of ten countries elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term 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 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

To guarantee the Objectives of the United Nations Charter, a complex network of universal and sectoral organizations and agencies has been created, which makes up the United Nations system. These specialised agencies have been established by international agreements which, having international responsibilities for economic, social, cultural, educational, health and other related matters, are linked to the United Nations by a specific relationship agreement. Spain maintains a close relationship with all specialized agencies, actively participates in them and collaborates to achieve their objectives. The specialized agencies of the UN are: FAO, IFAD, IMF, World Bank Group, ICAO, ILO, IMO, WMO, WIPO, WHO, UNWTO, UNIDO, ITU, UNESCO, UPU, UN-HABITAT, WFP, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM and UNITAR.

On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court at the initiative of the UN. It is an international court responsible for trying those perpetrating 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 State Parties, intervening in cases where they do not exercise jurisdiction or are not in a position to do so.

With regard to sustainable development, in September 2015 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda 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, as 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 targets in line with the Agenda.


Related documentation

United Nations Security CouncilIt opens in new window

United Nations General AssemblyIt opens in new window

United Nations Se​cretariat
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