Global Policy Forum

Social and Economic Policy at the UN


Picture Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

The founders of the UN believed that the horrors of World War II had sprung largely from the Great Depression of the 1930s. So they gave the new organization wide powers in the social and economic field, seeing such work as laying the basis for future peace as well as human well-being. The Charter speaks of the UN promoting "higher standards of living" and creating "conditions of economic and social progress and development." Since 1945, idealism has ebbed and conservative forces asserted themselves. Rich nations and powerful companies have increasingly opposed UN powers over economic and social matters, preferring the unfettered operation of markets or the regulatory intervention of conservative institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Still, over the years, the UN has nurtured alternative policy ideas and a more egalitarian approach to global society. Following from the Charter and building on pre-existing international bodies, the UN and its related family of institutions have contributed to global policy making on a wide range of social and economic issues.

Institutions and Processes of Social and Economic Policy Making at the UN

This page provides an introduction into the functioning of social and economic policymaking at the United Nations and a presentation of the institutions involved in this process.

Reform of ECOSOC and the Social and Economic Policy Process at the UN

This page provides articles, documents and other information on the reform of ECOSOC and the social and economic process at the UN in general.


This page provides articles on non-governmental organizations and ECOSOC.

UN High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence

This page provides articles and documents on the High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, established in February 2006 by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The Millennium Summit and Its Follow-Up

This page provides comprehensive information on the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 and its Follow-Up Summit in 2005. In 2000, hundreds of heads of state ratified the UN Millennium Declaration and promised to meet a number of "Millennium Development Goals."

UN and Business

This page provides articles, documents and other information on the ever-increasing role of business at the UN.



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