United Nations Distance Learning Programs


The United Nations (U.N.) continues to rely upon the help of volunteers and paid officials to maintain its primary objectives: peacekeeping and the maintenance of human rights. In order to coordinate efforts as efficiently as possible, the U.N. now offers a variety of distance-learning courses that are geared toward those objectives as well as others.

The U.N. Human-Rights System

  • The Human Rights Education Association (HREA) offers a distance-learning course in the U.N. human-rights system. Although not a U.N. organization, the HREA teaches individuals about the various aspects of the UN's human-rights promotion programs. The HREA program can serve as an introduction to the U.N. for individuals interested in pursuing additional studies directly with the U.N. or in working for the organization. The course is taught by Dr. Gerd Oberleitner of the Institute of International Law and International Relations at the University of Graz. The course provides students with both an introduction and a critical evaluation of the human-rights system of the United Nations. An 11-week online format takes approximately 50 clock hours to complete. The cost of the course is $725 (as of August, 2010). Topics of study within the course include the U.N. human-rights organization, the Commission on Human Rights, treaty- and charter-based peacekeeping mechanisms, the U.N. Human Rights Council, and the procedural mechanisms used to carry out the human rights mandates of the U.N.


  • The United Nations Capital Defense Fund offers a free online course in the field of microfinance. The program has been designed with a wide audience in mind; its primary purpose is to present an overview of microfinance to policymakers, students and practitioners. The broader objective of the program is introducing the course to as many people as possible to encourage economic development that can aid in the fight against poverty. Designed to be user-friendly, the course uses a narrator who guides the student through 11 different modules. The course is also offered in textbook and CD-ROM format.


  • The Peace Operations Training Institute offers a distance-learning education program in conjunction with the Integrated Training Service of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The program is open to all personnel who are or will be engaged in peacekeeping efforts on the African continent. Students who enroll in the program can take up to 21 different courses of study. The Institute offers introductory courses which include three foundational history courses, Principles of Peace Support Operations, and An Introduction to the U.N. System. Additional courses are offered in areas such as Peacekeeping and International Conflict Resolution, Gender Perspectives in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Preventing Violence Against Women and Gender Inequality in Peacekeeping, and International Humanitarian Law and the Law of Armed Conflict.


  • Photo Credit united nations building in nyc image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com
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