United Nations General Assembly

United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the UN and is composed of the representatives of all member states.  UNGA is the only principal organ of UN system in which all member nations have equal representation.  Its composition, functions, powers, voting, and procedures are set out in Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter.

Powers of UNGA

Its powers are

  • To oversee the budget of the United Nations
  • Appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council
  • Receive reports from other parts of the United Nations
  • Make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions.

The General Assembly meets under its president or Secretary-General in regular yearly sessions the main part of which lasts from September to December and resumed part from January until all issues are addressed. It can also reconvene for special and emergency special sessions.

Members of UNGA

The members are 193, of which more than two-thirds are developing countries. Because of their numbers, developing countries are often able to determine the agenda of the Assembly (using coordinating groups like the G77), the character of its debates, and the nature of its decisions. For many developing countries, the UN is the source of much of their diplomatic influence and the principal outlet for their foreign relations initiatives.

UNGA Resolutions

Except approval of budgetary matters, including adoption of a scale of assessment, Assembly resolutions are not binding on the members. The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security under Security Council consideration. The one state, one vote power structure theoretically allows states comprising just eight percent of the world population to pass a resolution by a two-thirds vote. This has been a subject of concern for many countries.

The resolutions are put forth by sponsoring states. These are generally statements symbolizing the sense of the international community about an array of world issues. Most General Assembly resolutions are not enforceable as a legal or practical matter, because the General Assembly lacks enforcement powers with respect to most issues. The General Assembly has authority to make final decisions in some areas such as the United Nations budget.

  • A United Nations General Assembly Resolution is voted on by all member states of the United Nations in the General Assembly.
  • General Assembly resolutions usually require a simple majority (50% of all votes plus one) to pass. However, if the General Assembly determines that the issue is an “important question” by a simple majority vote, then a two-thirds majority is required; “important questions” are those that deal significantly with maintenance of international peace and security, admission of new members to the United Nations, suspension of the rights and privileges of membership, expulsion of members, operation of the trusteeship system, or budgetary questions.
  • General Assembly resolutions are generally non-binding towards member states, internal resolutions may be binding on the operation of the General Assembly itself, for example with regard to budgetary and procedural matters.

Numbering System of UNGA Resolutions

  • From the First to the Thirtieth General Assembly sessions, all General Assembly resolutions were numbered consecutively, with the resolution number followed by the session number in Roman numbers (for example, Resolution 1514 (XV), which was the 1514th numbered resolution adopted by the Assembly, and was adopted at the Fifteenth Regular Session (1960)).
  • Beginning in the Thirty-First Session, resolutions are numbered by individual session (for example Resolution 41/10 represents the 10th resolution adopted at the Forty-First Session).

United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, or United Nations People’s Assembly (UNPA), is a proposed addition to the United Nations System that eventually could allow for direct election of UN parliament members by citizens all over the world.

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