United Nations/General Assembly

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The General Assembly is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is the only one of these six in which all Member nations are given the opportunity for representation.

Purpose and scope[edit]

The GA serves as a forum where all Member States have a voice since all member states are represented. Member nations can launch initiatives regarding international questions of peace, economic progress, and human rights. The GA can initiate studies; make recommendations; develop and codify international law; promote human rights; and further international economic, social, cultural, and educational programs.

In the event that the Security Council cannot meet, or cannot concur unanimously for a resolution on a specific matter, the GA may have the opportunity to hold special "emergency sessions". Within the GA, it is arguably much more feasible to successfully pass a resolution, given that a big five nation (one of the five major Allied victors of World War II) in the SC vetoes a resolution. The GA mandates that all Member nations are offered representation, as opposed to merely 15 total Members in the Security Council. It is important to note, however, that the reason why the Security Council has relatively fewer nations than the GA is so that it can act quickly. Again, the single veto of a big five nation can impede progress.

Resolutions passed in the GA are nonbinding, meaning that the resolutions the GA passes do not need to be followed by nations, as opposed to the Security Council, which passes binding resolutions, in which nations are required to follow by the terms of SC resolutions if specified to do so.

Veto power is absent within the GA.

The 6 Sub-Committees[edit]

  • First Committee: The First Committee is formally known as the Committee on Disarmament and International Security, sometimes abbreviated as DISEC. The role of First Committee is to discuss threats to international public safety, such as anti-personnel land mines and weapons of mass destruction. The First Committee has discussed nuclear arms/weapons proliferation since the conceiving of the first nuclear weapons in the 1950's by the United States of America. Because the Committee has dealt with nuclear proliferation for such a long time, many people or scholars who study the United Nations generally recognize First Committee as the 'sideline' nuclear proliferation committee within the UN. (The main UN committee that deals with nuclear proliferation is the IAEA, or International Atomic Energy Agency)
  • Second Committee: The Second Committee is formally known as the Economic and Financial Committee . ECOSOC, or Economic and Social Council, deals with similar matters that the Second Committee discusses sometimes.
  • Third Committee: The Third Committee is formally known as the Social, Political, Humanitarian Committee, SOCHUM for short. Some issues of common discussion and debate are religious intolerance in troubled areas around the world, basic human rights violations, and humanitarian violations. Some additional UN organs that usually have more of a part than Third Committee include the World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund, among others.
  • Fourth Committee: Otherwise known as the Committee for Special Political and Decolonization, or SPECPOL, the Fourth Committee attempts to ameliorate situations in which a territory once occupied through imperialistic forces can enter a state of self-sovereignty.
  • Fifth Committee: The Administrative and Budgetary Committee deals with administration within the UN and finances that the UN finds necessary in order to function.
  • Sixth Committee: Known notoriously as the Legal Committee, Sixth Committee deals with the legal aspect of UN issues. The Legal Committee sometimes refers issues to the ICJ, or International Court of Justice.

GA Plenary[edit]

After a GA sub-committee has met and agrees on a resolution, the sub-committee submits their resolution to the main GA body for a special plenary session, in which all members of the GA are given the opportunity to vote on that sub-committee's resolution.