International Affairs

The United Nations General Assembly

Introduction The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was established in 1945 under the United Nations Charter. It is the only universally representative body of the United Nations (UN) and occupies a central position as the chief deliberative and policymaking organ. The UNGA plays an important role in standard-setting and the codification of international law. Comprising all 193 Members of the UN, it is a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. The meeting of the general assembly takes place from September to December each year and then from January to September, as required, including to take up outstanding reports from the Fourth and Fifth Committees. In the resumed part of the session, the assembly considers current issues of critical importance that affects the international community in the form of High-level Thematic Debates organized by the President of the UNGA in consultation with the membership. The Assembly traditionally also conducts, during that period, informal consultations on a wide range of substantive topics as mandated by its resolutions. History The UNGA's first session was held on 10 January 1946 in the Methodist Central Hall in London and had representatives of 51 nations. The next few sessions held annually were hosted in different cities before moving to permanent headquarters of the UN in New York, USA at the start of its seventh session, on 14 October 1952. Functions and Powers of the UNGA According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may: •Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States; •Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General; •Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament; •Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it; •Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations; •Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, the development, and codification of international law, the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields; •Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among countries; •Consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs. •The Assembly may also take action in cases of a threat to the peace, breach of peace or act of aggression when the Security Council has failed to act owing to the negative vote of a permanent member. In such instances, according to its “Uniting for Peace” resolution of 3 November 1950, the Assembly may consider the matter immediately and recommend to its Members collective measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. Noteworthy UNGA actions •Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948- A couple of years after the UNGA convened its inaugural session; it passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that contained 30 articles that outlined global standards for human rights. It is considered Magna Carta for all humans everywhere. •Uniting for Peace Resolution, 1950- Millennium Declaration in the year 2000-For its 55th session the UNGA was designated the Millennium Assembly and it set the millennium development goals (time-bound and measurable targets to be reached). In the year 2015, the UNGA set 17 new goals for Sustainable Development.
Source: UN website

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