UN Work Locations

Where are UN offices Working

United Nations’ work touches lives in every corner of the globe and their daily operations are complex, multifaceted and extended directly and indirectly to our 193 Members States.

The United Nations Secretariat which commenced operations in early 1946 was staffed with a mere 300 people working primarily for the Preparatory Commission and engaged in providing conference services for a fledgling world body that was beginning to chart a course to positively change the world. From that nucleus, it expanded within six months to about 3,000 employees. Three years later, in October 1949, the cornerstone was laid for what would evolve into the Organization’s sprawling Headquarters in midtown Manhattan in New York.

Today, the United Nations has evolved beyond the conference management services it provided in its early days and is now actively on the ground around the globe seeking solutions to the three thematic areas outlined in its Charter: peace and security; the protection and promotion of human rights; and human development. Since 1946 the Organization has gradually transformed itself into a global Secretariat with a workforce that now numbers some 44,000 specialized men and women.

In the last decade, faced with rapidly unfolding changes in the global arena, the Organization underwent a metamorphosis to be more response oriented; today the United Nations has become a more reactive field-based operation with 60 per cent of its staff working away from Headquarters in locations all over the world.

UN global Secretariat has offices in Geneva and Vienna as well as in Nairobi, with its economic commissions headquartered in specific capitals around the world addressing the socio-economic and developmental needs of the countries that belong to the five major regions of the world: Africa; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; Asia and the Pacific; and Western Asia.

Understandably, UN is often associated with peacekeeping as this is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace and development. The first peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, with the deployment of United Nations military observers to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 63 peacekeeping operations around the world. Currently we have 16 peacekeeping operations and 12 political missions deployed across five continents. The latter provide a platform for preventive diplomacy and other activities across a range of disciplines, to help prevent and resolve conflict or to build lasting peace in nations emerging from civil wars.

In addition, other arms of UN global Secretariat such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Environment Programme, have opened regional and country offices all over the world to enable them to respond more rapidly to emerging issues that require their expertise and assistance. In addition, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is located in Geneva with an office in New York while the Office of Internal Oversight Services, based in New York, offers services wherever its services are required around the globe.

Finally, the network of United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) links the Organization’s Headquarters with people around the world. Located in over 60 countries, these field offices of our Department of Public Information help local communities obtain up-to-date information on the Organization and its activities. UNICs help people everywhere to be heard and to better understand what the United Nations is doing to make a difference in their lives.

Wherever help is needed and people are suffering you will find dedicated United Nations staff contributing their time, assistance and expertise to positively transform lives and make the world a safer and better place for this and future generations.

In a Nutshell

Number of Staff:

  • 44,000
  • 60% work in field locations all over the world

Headquarters Locations:

  • New York
  • Geneva
  • Vienna
  • Nairobi

Regional Economic and/or Social Commissions:

  • Geneva: for Europe
  • Beirut: for Western Asia
  • Santiago: for Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Bangkok: for Asia and the Pacific
  • Addis Ababa: for Africa

International Criminal Tribunals:

  • The Hague: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
  • Arusha: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Number of UN Programmes and Specialized Agencies:

  • 40

Number of Peace Operations:

  • 28

Working in the field

Over the years, the United Nations has increased its presence in locations all over the world. There are over 130 field offices, which include peacekeeping and political missions and humanitarian field operations, and they play an essential role in identifying, highlighting, and responding to emerging challenges. While the work may vary greatly, the one unifying factor is the opportunity to make a difference, both in the world and in your own life.

Together with its partners, the United Nations is tasked with a variety of responsibilities, such as providing and coordinating humanitarian assistance; promoting and protecting human rights; assisting countries to combat the supply of illicit drugs, crime and corruption and; providing information on the Organization and its activities in the various locations in which it operates. Furthermore, United Nations peacekeeping and political missions have evolved over time to meet the demands of different conflicts and changing political landscapes. Civilian peacekeepers work as administrators and engineers, police officers and legal experts, economists and electoral observers, specialists in civil affairs and gender, as well as experts in information technology and public information among other specialized functions.

Working and living conditions in the field vary from one location to another. If you serve in a peacekeeping or political mission, or in a humanitarian field operation, the country or region that you work and live in is likely to be emerging from conflict or an emergency situation. This means that the conditions are more arduous; the infrastructure is weak and electricity and clean water are often in short supply. In addition, most peacekeeping, political or humanitarian missions are categorized as "non-family," which means that family members may not join the staff member at the location.
Service in the cause of peace is a calling that demands both personal dedication and sacrifice but it also offers real opportunities to help people and countries recover from conflict, rebuild their societies, and enjoy the benefits of peace.