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The Charter of the United Nations established six principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the UN Secretariat. The United Nations has its seat and all but one of these principal organs in New York; the International Court of Justice is located in The Hague, Netherlands. The UN also has major offices in Geneva (UNOG), Vienna (UNOV) and Nairobi (UNON). There are five Regional Commissions and Secretariats: the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa; Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Baghdad; Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok; Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) in Geneva; and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago.

The United Nations also consists of a variety of funds, programmes and other units that are financed either through the UN's assessed regular budget, from voluntary contributions from Member States or a combination of both. These include: the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with authority shared between the UN and FAO. While these institutions have their own governing bodies and may rely entirely upon voluntary financial contributions, they were all created by decisions of the UN General Assembly.

The UN system also comprises a number of specialized agencies, which include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Health Organization (WHO), and what are sometimes referred to as the technical agencies” including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Each of these was separately established by governments with their own constitution, their own membership of states, governing bodies, secretariats with executive heads, and policies and programmes agreed by their governing bodies. Their regular budgets are separate from the regular budget of the UN although voting in the main governing bodies of these agencies is on the same one-nation, one-vote principle as the UN. Each is recognized under the UN Charter as a specialized agency brought into agreement with” the UN.

The other large specialized agencies of the system--under the terms of the UN Charter--are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which comprises the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). However the budgets of the IMF and the World Bank are raised by different procedures of underwriting and capital market issues and, unlike the UN system, these institutions are governed according to voting weighted by shares held by Member States. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is not officially a part of the UN system but a global arrangement exists between the two, based on the relationship that had existed between the UN and the WTOs predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). This includes provision and exchange of information, representation at each others meetings subject to the decision of the meeting organizers, participation of the WTO at the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) and its subsidiary bodies, and cooperation between the secretariats. Particular cooperation arrangements have been concluded between the WTO and UNCTAD.

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