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 Technical Agencies


ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). They allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide. Founded in 1865, some see it as the first major international organization.

Codding, George Arthur, The International Telecommunication Union: an experiment in international cooperation (E.J. Brill, 1952)

Codding, George, and Rutkowski, Anthony, The International Telecommunication Union in a changing world (Artech House, 1982).

Headrick, Daniel, The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945
(Oxford University Press, 1991).

Leonard Laborie, "Fragile Links, Frozen Identities: The Governance of Telecommunication Networks and Europe (1944-1953)," History & Technology 27.3 (September, 2011), pp. 311-330.

Lyall, Francis, International Communications: the International Telecommunication Union and the Universal Postal Union (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011).
Savage, James G., The Politics of International Telecommunications Regulation (Westview Press, 1989).

Hugh Richard Slotten, "The International Telecommunications Union, Space Radio Communications, and U.S. Cold War Diplomacy, 1957-1963," Diplomatic History 37.2 (April, 2013), pp. 313-371.

Norman Weiß, "Institutionalised Co-operation on International Communication: The International Administrative Unions as a Means of Governing Globalisation Processes," in Isabella Löhr and Roland Wenzlhumer (eds.), The Nation State and Beyond: Governing Globalisation Processes in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Springer Verlag, 2013), pp. 65-89.

Winseck, Dwayne R. and Pike, Robert M., Communication and Empire: Media, Markets, and Globalization, 1860-1930 (Duke University Press, 2007).


The World in 2011: ICT Facts and Figures

This publication features end of 2011 estimates for ITU’s key telecommunication/ICT indicators. The brochure, which was published on the occasion of ITU Telecom, on October 25th, 2011, highlights the latest global ICT facts and trends and includes figures on Internet use, fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth, home ICT access, and more.



The UPU fulfills an advisory, mediating and liaison role, and provides technical assistance where needed. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations to stimulate growth in mail, parcel and financial services volumes and improve quality of service for customers.

Codding, George, The Universal Postal Union: coordinator of the international mails (New York University Press, 1964).

Cotreau, James Donald, Historical Development of the Universal Postal Union and the Question of Membership (Boston, 1975).

Hoke, Henry Reed, The first book of international mail: The story of the Universal Postal Union (F. Watts, 1963).

John, Richard R., “The Political Economy of Postal Reform in the Victorian Age” in Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology 55 (2010): 3-12.

Lyall, Francis, International Communications: the International Telecommunication Union and the Universal Postal Union (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011).

Menon, Manikath Antha Krishna, Universal Postal Union (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1965).

Sly, John F., The Genesis of the Universal Postal Union; a Study in the Beginnings of International Organization (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1927).


The ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection.

Buergenthal, Thomas Law-making in the International Civil Aviation Organization, Volume 1 (Syracuse University Press, 1969).

MacKenzie, David, ICAO: a history of the International Civil Aviation Organization (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

Weber, Ludwig, International Civil Aviation Organization: an introduction (Kluwer Law International, 2007).

“Report on joint activities with the International Civil Aviation Organization towards the development of air transport in Africa,” United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa. 1964.



The ILO is the international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labor standards. It is the only 'tripartite' United Nations agency that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programs promoting Decent Work for all. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating 'real world' knowledge about employment and work.

Allen, Joan, Campbell, Alan, and McIlroy, John, eds., Histories of labour: national and international perspectives (Merlin, 2010).

Clavin, Patricia, “What’s in a living standard? The ILO and the League of Nation’s Depression Delegation, 1938-1945" in ILO. April 16, 2009.

Van Daele, Jasmien et al, eds., ILO histories : essays on the International Labour Organization and its impact on the world during the twentieth century (Peter Lang, 2010).

Van Daele, Jasmien, “Engineering Social Peace: Networks, Ideas, and the Founding of the International Labour Organization” in International Review of Social History 50 (2005): 435-466.

Eisenberg, Jaci, Sir Harold Beresford Butler. Uploaded September 14, 2011.

Follows, John William, Antecedents of the International Labour Organization. (Clarendon Press, 1951).

Forclaz, Amalia Ribi, "A New Target for International Social Reform: The International Labor Organization and Working and Living Conditions in Agriculture in the Inter-War Years," Contemporary European History 20.3 (August 2011), pp. 307-329.

Guinand, Cédric, “The Creation of the ISSA and the ILO,” in International Social Security Review 61 (2008): 81-98.

Hanrieder, Tine, International Organization in Time: Fragmentation and Reform (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Huberman, Michael, Odd Couple: International Trade and Labor Standards (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2012).

Hughes, Steve, and Haworth, Nigel, The International Labour Organization (ILO): coming in from the cold
(Routledge, 2011).

Kott, Sandrine, "The Forced Labor Issue between Human and Social Rights, 1947-1957," Humanity 3.3 (2012).

Kott, Sandrine and Joelle Droux (eds.), Globalizing Social Rights: The International Labour Organization and Beyond (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Kott, Sandrine, “Fighting the War or Preparing for Peace? The ILO during the Second World War,” “International Organisations during the Second World War,” Journal of Modern European History 12.3 (2014).

Maul, Daniel, Human Rights, Development and Decolonization: The International Labour Organization, 1940-70 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Rodgers, Gerry, The International Labour Organization and the quest for social justice 1919-2009
(ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 2009).

Carolien Stolte, "Bringing Asia to the World: Indian Trade Unionism and the Long Road towards the Asiatic Labour Congress, 1919-1937," Journal of Global History 7.2 (2012), pp. 257-278.

Sturman, Rachel, "Indian Indentured Labor and the History of International Rights Regimes," American Historical Review 119.5 (2014), pp. 1439-1465.

Edward Phelan and the ILO: the life and views of an international social actor (International Labour Office, 2009).



IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. In 1948 an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention formally establishing IMO (the original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO). The IMO Convention entered into force in 1958 and the new Organization met for the first time the following year.

Henry, Cleopatra, The carriage of dangerous goods by sea: the role of the International Maritime Organization in international legislation (St. Martin’s Press, 1985).

Lovald, Johan Ludvik, "In Search of an Ocean Regime: The Negotiations on the General Assembly's Seabed Committee, 1968-1970," International Organization 29.3 (1975), pp. 681-710.

Makabady, Samir, ed., The International Maritime Organization (Croom Helm, 1986-1987).

Nordquist, Myron, Current maritime issues and the international maritime organization (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1999).


UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. See the theme ‘development’ for further details.

Bredel, Ralf, Long-term conflict prevention and industrial development: the United Nations and its specialized agency, UNIDO (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2003).

Lambert, Youry, The United Nations Industrial Development Organization: UNIDO and problems of international economic cooperation (Praeger, 1993).

United Nations Industrial Development Organization: 30 years of industrial development, 1966-1996 (ISC in association with UNIDO, 1995).


It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

Search IP databases

Halbert, Debora, Resisting Intellectual Property (Psychology Press, 2005).

May, Christopher, The World Intellectual Property Organization: Resurgence and the Development Agenda (Routledge, 2007).

David Philip Miller, "Intellectual Property and Narratives of Discovery/Invention: The League of Nations' Draft Convention on 'Scientific Property' and its Fate," History of Science 46 (2008), pp. 299-342.

Yu, Peter, Intellectual Property and Information Wealth: Issues and Practices in the Digital Age (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007).



It is the UN system's authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

Edwards, Paul, Meteorology as Infrastructural Globalism. (2006).

Fleming, James Rodger, Historical essays on meteorology, 1919-1995: the Diamond Anniversary history volume of the American Meteorological Society (American Meterological Society, 1996).

Frisinger, H. Howard, The history of meteorology to 1800 (Science History Publications, 1977).

Gibbs, W. J. Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology. Chapter 2: International Meteorology. (Bureau of Meteorology. Melbourne, Australia, 1999).

Sarukhanian, E. I. and Walker, J. M., "The International Meteorological Organization (IMO) 1879-1950".  (WMO).

Williams, James Thaxter, The history of weather (Nova Science Publishers, 1999).



The UNWTO is the leading international organization in the field of tourism. It serves as a ‎global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.‎ It plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, ‎sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the ‎interests of developing countries.‎


The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The office has the dual objective of supporting the intergovernmental discussions in the Committee and its Scientific and TechnicalSubcommittee(S&T) and Legal Subcommittee, and of assisting developing countries in using space technology for development.

McDougall, Walter A., "Technocracy and Statecraft in the Space Age," American Historical Review 87.4 (1982), pp. 1010-1040.

Miles, Edward, "Transnationalism in Space: Inner and Outer," International Organization 25.3 (1971), pp. 602-626.



Its mandate is to regulate and coordinate the conditions of service of staff in the United Nations common system, while promoting and maintaining high standards in the international civil service.



The ICC was establishedas a common service, providing a wide range of Information and Communication Technology Services, on a cost recovery basis, to its users worldwide. It was originally set up to meet the needs of three organizations; the UN, the UNDP and WHO were the founding organizations of the ICC. The Centre has grown over the years to count now more than 25 Partner Organizations and a large number of other Users. 



Malta was first to raise the question of Ageing as a matter of international concern at the United Nations in 1968. Eventually in 1979 the General Assembly agreed to call a World Assembly on Aging in 1982. In its Resolution 37/51 it recommended inter-alia the promotion of training and research, as well as the exchange of information and knowledge in order to provide an international basis for social policies and action.


The Authority is the organization through which States Parties to the Convention shall, in accordance with the regime for the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) established in Part XI and the Agreement, organize and control activities in the Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.



The ISDR's mandate is to serve as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among disaster reduction activities.



The Inspectors have the broadest powers of investigation in all matters having a bearing on the efficiency of the services and the proper use of funds and, to these ends, may make on-the-spot inquiries and investigations. They are mandated to provide an independent view through inspection and evaluation aimed at improving management and methods and at achieving greater coordination between organizations.


The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) promotes constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society through dynamic partnerships to foster greater coherence around cross-cutting and emerging issues on the UN’s agenda and by facilitating meaningful civil society engagement in UN processes.

United Nations Board of Auditors

United Nations Office for Partnerships

United Nations Geographic Information Working Group

United Nations Institute for Training and research



UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. In the Millennium Declaration, Member States also resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism.



UNOPS mission is to expand the capacity of the UN system and its partners to implement peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations that matter for people in need.