What does the UN do?


Well today in the news we have an answer: they do everything in their power to promote world peace. Senior UN officials are reporting that a Syrian government plane has bombed a refugee camp near the Turkish border killing at least 28 people. This is how the UN has responded:

  1. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said he was outraged by the incident and called for those responsible to be held accountable”. Ban urged the security council to refer the situation in Syria to the international criminal court.
  2. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights said Thursday’s attacks were almost certainly a deliberate war crime.  Al Hussein said: “Given these tent settlements have been in these locations for several weeks, and can be clearly viewed from the air, it is extremely unlikely that these murderous attacks were an accident.” He too urged members of the UN security council to refer Syria to the ICC so that there would be “a clear path to punishment for those who commit crimes like these”.
  3. Other countries have felt confident enough to make comments too with France describing them as a “revolting and unacceptable act that could amount to a war crime or crime against humanity”.
  4. UN-organised peace talks in Geneva are however deadlocked after an opposition walkout and the government delegation’s refusal to discuss a political transition that would see Assad eased out of power.

Some people see the United Nations as a world government. This might be seen as good to promote world peace and human rights everywhere or dangerous if it isn’t your own national government making important decisions…


If you can’t remember the basics about the United Nations you might look at the CBBC page which gives this as a summary:

The UN works for world peace and development in many different ways.
a) It organises peace-keeping forces in trouble spots around the world.                                    b) It is also linked with organisations which help people around the world. These include:
– UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
– UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
– UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)
– FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation)
– WHO (World Health Organisation)

Lots of people know about the UN because it sends peacekeeping troops to areas of conflict:


Or watch some YouTube clips:

  1. How does the UN work?
  2. How effective in the UN?
  3. Craziest moment of the General Assembly at the UN
  4. Emma Watson actress speaking at the HeForSheCampaign at the UN 2014
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio actor speaking as a UN Messenger of Peace at a Climate Summit 2014


Above you can see in the photograph how in 1942 the name “United Nations” was first coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was  used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.


Proud or concerned: UK one of the world’s biggest aid donors


As the Year 8 students in RE begin their new topic about wealth and poverty there is a timely report on how much aid the UK government gives to overseas less economically developed places.

In terms of pure donation sums from the British government, only the US gives more. Whereas in relation to aid donation as a percentage of a nation’s income only Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark give a higher amount than the UK. Are you feeling pride or concern?

The United Nations actually set a target for countries to give at least 0.7% of their gross national income – only five countries in the world achieved this in 2014. The UK was one of the them. As most rich economies are getting wealthier and wealthier they are mostly donating less (as a percentage of their income) to the LEDC’s of the world. For example the US only gives 0.18% of its national income as aid, whereas the UK gives 0.71%.



Useful films to watch for GCSE RS

Here are just a selection of films Year 11 might try to watch over the holidays to help them think about topics in our RS GCSE.


Cider House Rules Honored with two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor, Michael Caine, and Best Adapted Screenplay, John Irving, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES tells a heartwarming story about how far a young man must travel to find the place where he truly belongs! Homer Wells (Tobey Macguire) has lived nearly his entire life within the walls of St. Cloud’s Orphanage in rural Maine. Though groomed by its proprietor, Dr. Larch, to be his successor, Homer nonetheless feels the need to strike out on his own and experience the world outside. Then, while working at an apple orchard, Homer falls for the beautiful Candy (Charlize Theron) and learns some powerful lessons about love.

Vera Drake In 1950, in London, Vera Drake is a simple woman of a low-class but happy family. She works cleaning upper-class houses; her beloved husband is a mechanic and works with his brother in a repair shop; her son is a tailor; and her daughter tests and packs electric lamps. The helpful Vera is a very good and cooperative woman, helping her sick mother, a handicapped neighbor and whoever needs her. She also induces miscarriages in women who do not want to have children, for no payment. When a woman has complications with her intervention and goes to the hospital, the police investigate the occurrence…

Juno A whip-smart teen confronts an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate.


I can’t find a decent quality trailer  so this will have to do for The Life of David Gale When anti-death penalty activist David Gale is convicted and condemned to death for the murder of a colleague, reporter Bitsey Bloom sets out to learn the story behind Gale’s crime. What she finds challenges her belief in Gale’s guilt and, finally, in the justice system.

Dead Man Walking A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim’s families. Here’s also the Reconciliation scene near the end of the film.


This 2004 film The Future of Food can be watched in its entirety on YouTube; offering an investigation of genetically engineered food which is in the shops without you realising it. I’m squeezing in these TV programmes incase the thought of watching a whole documentary is just too much to stomach: Horizon: Goats with Spider Silk and a very short trailer for Genetic Engineering Intelligent Babies.


Hotel Rwanda Nominated for 3 Oscars, including for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Don Cheadle) and Best Original Screenplay. Hotel Rwanda is  based on real life events in 1994 Rwanda, when hotelier Paul Rusesabagina attempted to save his fellow citizens from the ravages of the Rwandan Genocide. The film, which has been called an African Schindler’s List, documents Rusesabagina’s acts to save the lives of his family and more than a thousand other refugees, by granting them shelter in the besieged Hôtel des Mille Collines. Hotel Rwanda explores genocide, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence.

Fog of War A film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war.

The Unknown Known This time about the former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Interpreter Political intrigue and deception unfold inside the United Nations, where a U.S. Secret Service agent is assigned to investigate an interpreter who overhears an assassination plot.


“People must use scarce natural resources for the world to improve.”

A statement on our 2013 Unit 8 Mock Exam: “People must use scarce natural resources for the world to improve.” Do you agree or disagree?

Well right now in Paris some countries are blocking the climate change talks because they want to protect their place as leaders in the global oil trade. Saudi Arabia is one country which is being accused of blocking changes such as aiming for the more ambitious target of only causing +1.5C in global warming rather than the current +2C change. They’ve also objected to other plans which they say are too harsh and will stop the development of LEDC’s.

I do believe we talked about this very point this afternoon in Religious Studies when faced with the statement “People must use scarce natural resources for the world to improve”!



What is climate change?

Okay, if all the world cared about were GCSE grades, this is a useful thing to know for your Religious Studies GCSE. Probably as an ‘a’ style question. But the world is not just about GCSE grades, A’ Levels or university degrees; it is also about dealing with huge environmental issues such as climate change which will affect our lives forever.

On Monday 30th November the COP21 – United Nations Conference on Climate Change – will begin in Paris, and 150 Heads of State from all over the world will meet to discuss, debate and hopefully agree on ways to reduce the speed that climate change is affecting our world.

The BBC has created a really easy to understand webpage which shows what climate change is using six simple graphics. Or you might try to get closer to the action by following the conference on its own webpage. In Paris on Sunday a planned protest by eco-protestors had to be called off due to security concerns. So instead the protestors laid out thousands of shoes to represent the people who’d wanted to walk and show their support. One pair of shoes had been donated by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church. In September whilst on a tour of the USA he’d made a passioned speech on the White House lawn.


“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” said the Pope.

“Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the pope said with a slow, deliberate delivery that left little room for misinterpretation.

“We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us.” He continued: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.”

Climate Change Advisor Unhappy with UK government

An RS exam question for Unit 8 Section 2 might be about climate change and global warming: Explain how people can work to reduce climate change or Do you think global warming is impossible to stop?


Well the Prime Minister’s Chief Climate Change Advisor has agreed with the UN who recently criticised the UK for not doing enough saying the government’s “clearly failing’ on key policies. Issues which are not being dealt with quickly enough are:

  • loss of energy from draughty houses
  • not getting the most of renewable heat energy
  • general poor leadership on renewable energy with cuts to subsidies (gifts of money to help support an industry or business) for solar and wind power investors

Kardashian family like a mini United Nations

Kris Jenner has spoken about having to guide her family through tough times being like a mini United Nations. She said that she drops everything for her children, and that family is always more important than business. The Kardashians would have to be involved in a lot of negotiating, placing trade embargoes, speech making, influencing the world, sending out peace keeping troops and having the ultimate aim of world peace to be anything like the UN – right? Has Kris compared her family to the UN without really knowing what the UN does?

Kris isn’t the first Kardashian to mention the United Nations, with Kim saying after her visit to Armenia last spring that she’d like a role in the UN like Angelina Jolie. Some commentators have scoffed at this idea: wondering whether Kim would ever go to war torn and dangerous countries like Angelina does.