- What is the General Assembly?
- The History of the General Assembly
- The Composition of the General Assembly
- The Role of the General Assembly
- The Powers of the General Assembly
- The General Assembly and the United Nations Charter
- The General Assembly and International Law
- The General Assembly and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security
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The General Assembly is a hallowed place, where representatives from all corners of ODS can come to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our organization. With so much on the line, it’s important that we have an open forum in which to debate and vote on resolutions that will affect us all.
What is the General Assembly?
The General Assembly is the main deliberative body of the United Nations. It is composed of all member states of the UN, and meets once a year in September. The main functions of the GA are to discuss and make decisions on important issues relating to international peace and security, as well as to elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and choose the Secretary-General of the UN.
The GA has two bodies: The plenary, which includes all member states, and six main committees (Disarmament and International Security; Economic and Financial; Social, Humanitarian & Cultural; Special Political & Decolonization; Administrative & Budgetary; Legal). Resolutions passed by these committees need to be approved by the plenary in order to be adopted.
There are also a number of subsidiary organs associated with the GA, such as the General Committee (which deals with procedural matters), and various ad hoc committees that are set up to deal with specific issues as they arise.
The History of the General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative body of the United Nations. It is composed of all UN Member States, each of which has one vote. The Assembly meets in regular yearly sessions, usually from September to December, and Extraordinary Sessions have been held occasionally since 1945.
The work of the General Assembly revolves around five main functions:
-To maintain international peace and security;
-To develop friendly relations among nations;
-To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character;
-To promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and
-To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.
In performing these functions, the Assembly adopts resolutions (formally known as “decisions”) on issues brought before it by Member States and United Nations organs. Resolutions may take the form of decisions, recommendations or plenary resolutions.
The Composition of the General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. It has universal membership, meaning that all UN Member States are represented in it. The Assembly meets in regular annual sessions and also holds special sessions when needed.
There are a total of 193 Member States in the General Assembly, representing every country in the world. The number of votes each state has in the Assembly is determined by its level of membership in the United Nations. For example, small countries like Monaco have just one vote while larger countries like China have more than two hundred votes.
Each Member State has a delegation of diplomats who represent their government at UN Headquarters in New York City. These diplomats are known as Permanent Representatives and they head up their country’s Mission to the UN. The size of each delegation is proportional to the importance of its Member State; so, for instance, large countries like China will have much bigger delegations than smaller countries like Monaco.
The work of the General Assembly is carried out by six main organs:
-the Main Committees,
-the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),
-the Trusteeship Council,
-the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and
Of these organs, only the Plenary and Main Committees are part of the Assembly itself; all others are subsidiary bodies which report to it or provide services to it .
The Role of the General Assembly
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations. It is the largest, most representative body of the UN with all 193 Member States of the UN represented in it. The work of the General Assembly is carried out through its Main Committees and a large number of subsidiary bodies.
All major issues brought to the United Nations are addressed by the General Assembly. It considers and makes recommendations on questions such as peace and security, disarmament, human rights, international law, international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and making recommendations on those issues to Member States and the Security Council.
The decisions of the GA are known as resolutions. Resolutions are formally adopted by a vote of all member states present and voting; they require a simple majority unless another method is specified in advance in rules for procedure (such as two-thirds or three-fourths). They are binding on all member states except those that voted against them or abstained.
The Powers of the General Assembly
The United Nations General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the United Nations, and is responsible for a wide range of activities, including adopting resolutions on important issues, electing the non-permanent members of the Security Council and appointing the Secretary-General of the UN.
The General Assembly is made up of all UN member states, each of which has one vote. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority (50%+1), although important decisions such as those concerning amendments to the UN Charter require a two-thirds majority.
The General Assembly meets in regular sessions once a year, but special sessions can be convened at any time by a decision of the assembly or at the request of at least one third of UN member states.
So what powers does the General Assembly actually have? Let’s take a closer look:
One of the most important functions of the General Assembly is to adopt resolutions on various topics. These resolutions are not legally binding, but they carry moral weight and can be influential in shaping international opinion. For example, in 2016 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 70/1 on large movements of refugees and migrants, which called for greater cooperation and responsibility-sharing among states in dealing with this issue.
2) Electing Non-Permanent Members to Security Council:
Another key role played by the General Assembly is to elect ten non-permanent members to serve on the Security Council for two-year terms. These members are elected by secret ballot from among all UN member states, according to regional groups (Africa, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America & Caribbean group, Western Europe & Others group). In order to be elected onto the Security Council, a candidate must receive 2/3rds votes from assembled member nations.
3) Appointing Secretary-General:
Perhaps one of its most high-profile responsibilities is appointingthe Secretary-Generalofthe United Nations ufffd currentlyAntufffdnio Guterresufffd who acts as chief administrative officerofthe Organizationand headspokespersonforUN valuesand purposesaroundthe world. The selection process for secretary generalis notoriously complicatedand opaque ufffd it usually takes many months(and sometimes years) beforea consensus candidateemergesfrom behind closed doorsufffd but ultimatelyit falls tobetweenthe five permanentmembersofSecurity Council(China France Russia UK US),witheach havingveto powerover any potential nominee.(This explains why you often see candidatesfrom these countries being floated as potential nominees long before an actual appointment is made.)
The General Assembly and the United Nations Charter
The General Assembly is the main deliberative body of the United Nations. It is composed of all UN member states, each of which has one vote. The Assembly meets in regular yearly sessions under a president elected from among its members.
Under the UN Charter, the primary function of the General Assembly is to discuss and make recommendations on international issues covered by the charter. These include peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, and international law. The assembly also elects non-permanent members of the Security Council and appoints the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The assembly adopts resolutions on these topics after discussion and voting. Resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority and can be used to apply pressure on countries to change their policies. The assembly’s decisions are made by simple majority vote (50% + 1), with each member state having one vote regardless of population size or economic strength.
The work of the General Assembly is supported by six main committees: Disarmament and International Security; Economic and Financial; Social, Humanitarian & Cultural; Special Political & Decolonization; Administrative & Budgetary; Legal. There are also a number of subsidiary bodies that report to either the plenary session or one of the committees.
The General Assembly and International Law
The United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. It is one of the six principal organs of the UN, along with the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. Comprising all 193 Member States of the UN, it meets in regular annual sessions at UN Headquarters in New York City, and plays a central role in promoting international cooperation and coordinating action on multilateral issues.
The General Assembly adopts resolutions (decisions) on important questions such as peace and security, international cooperation, human rights, economic development
and international law. Resolutions are not legally binding but they carry political weight and are significant indicators of world opinion on global issues. The Assembly also elects non-permanent members to fill seats on the Security Council ufffd one of its most high-profile activities ufffd
and appoints Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The work of the General Assembly is supported by six main committees: Disarmament and International Security; Economic and Financial; Social, Humanitarian
and Cultural; Special Political and Decolonization; Administrative and Budgetary; Legal. In addition to these there are a number of ad hoc committees set up to deal with particular issues as they arise.
The General Assembly and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security
The United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative body of the United Nations. It is composed of all UN member states, each of which has one vote. The Assembly meets in regular yearly sessions, the main part of which takes place in September and lasts for about two weeks. However, special sessions can be called at any time by a resolution of the General Assembly or by a request from the Security Council.
The primary responsibility of the General Assembly is to discuss and make recommendations on international issues within its competence. These include peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, decolonization ufffdand drugs. The Assembly may also take action on important questions concerning world peace by making recommendations to member states or the Security Council.
In addition to its deliberative function, the General Assembly plays an important role in supervisingthe work of the United Nations Secretariat and other UN organs. It does this through its budget committee and five main subsidiary bodies: Committee on Conferences, Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, Committee for Programme and Coordination ufffdand Joint Inspection Unit . The plenary meetings of the 74th session will be held from 17 September to 6 October 2019 inclusive.
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