Canada and the United Nations
- Overview of the United Nations
- Canada's Diplomatic Missions to the United Nations
- Second National Report of Canada under the Universal Periodic Review (PDF Version 964 KB) *
Canada has been active at the United Nations since its foundation in 1945 and played a key role in drafting the UN Charter - an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations.
Today, Canada continues to uphold the UN by actively participating in the organization's activities and providing financial support. Canada consistently brings pragmatic ideas and solutions to the table, from peacekeeping proposals in the 1950s, to creating the International Criminal Court and banning landmines in the 1990s. Today, some of our current goals in Geneva are to address violence against women, to encourage timely and effective responses to humanitarian crises and fragile states, and to improve the UN’s management and rationalize the work of its agencies.
To be sure, the UN continues to achieve a great deal in advancing canadian policy positions. It is an indispensable organization for a globalizing world. Through treaties, dialogue, negotiation, relationships and the capacity to implement decisions, the UN helps to preserve our sovereignty, protect our key interests and defend our values. It also helps us to develop the mutual understanding we need to resolve our differences. And it helps us to forge compromises and agreements, and to combine our energies for the common good.
It is moreover there to help us cope with "problems without passports" - threats such as terrorism, environmental issues, contagious disease and chronic starvation, human rights, illiteracy and population displacement. The problems are the shared responsibility of the international community and cry out for solutions that, like the problems themselves, also cross frontiers.
For more information on the UN, please read our overview of the United Nations. On our website, you can also find more about Canada’s diplomatic missions to the United Nations and learn more about canadian policy positions. And do not hesitate to browse through canadian statements to read what Canadian representatives have said in the name of Canada at the UN.
The United Nations officially came into being on October 24, 1945. By that date a majority of the 50 countries that had signed the UN Charter in San Francisco on June 26, 1945, had ratified it in their national parliaments. The UN replaced the League of Nations, which had been created by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Canada, a participant at the San Francisco Conference (April 25 to June 26, 1945), is one of the founding members of the United Nations.
The actions of the UN are guided by its Charter, which defines the United Nations' purposes as follows:
- to maintain international peace and security;
- to develop friendly relations among nations; and
- to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights.
The actions of the United Nations are based on certain principles:
- all of its members are equal;
- all members must fulfil their Charter obligations;
- international disputes are to be settled by peaceful means;
- members may not use force or the threat of force against other members;
- members must help the United Nations in any action it might take in accordance with the Charter;
- the United Nations may not interfere in the domestic affairs of any state.
Currently, there are 193 member states. For a complete list of member states, along with the year each was admitted to the UN, please visit the United Nations Member States page.
Although UN Member States do not legislate in the manner of a national parliament, through their actions and their votes, they help set international policy.
The United Nations has six main bodies established by the Charter: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat.
All act in concert with dozens of related specialized agencies, funds and programmes in order to develop increasingly co-ordinated but diversified actions in the spheres of peace and security, humanitarian assistance, human rights, and economic and social development.
The United Nations System of Organizations is made up of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Programmes and Funds - such as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) - and the Specialized Agencies - such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Programmes, Funds and Agencies have their own governing bodies and budgets, and set their own standards and guidelines. Together, they provide technical assistance and other forms of practical help in virtually all areas of economic and social endeavour.
Canada has seven diplomatic missions accredited to the UN:
The Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York
Responsible for overall relations with the United Nations and delegations of member countries, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, UNDP, UNICEF, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
The Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva
Responsible for relations with all UN offices in Geneva and delegations of member countries, including entities such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or forums such as the Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament.
The Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO in Paris
Responsible for Canada's relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Permanent Mission of Canada to International Organisations in Vienna
Responsible for relations with the UN offices in Vienna, including the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations in Nairobi
Responsible for relations to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT) and to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Permanent Mission of Canada to the FAO in Rome
Responsible for relations with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The Permanent Mission of Canada to the ICAO in Montreal
Responsible for relations with the International Civil Aviation Organization
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