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Backgrounder: United Nations General Assembly

09-14-2011 08:47 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations General Assembly (GA) opened its 66th session on Tuesday at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The GA's regular session begins each year on Tuesday in the third week of September, counting from the first week that contains at least one working day.

Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the GA occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

Comprising all 193 members of the UN, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. The United Nations admitted South Sudan as its 193rd member state in mid-July, a few days after the new African nation gained independence.

The General Assembly also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and international law codifying. The Assembly meets in regular session under its president from September to December each year. The first session was convened on Jan. 10, 1946 in London. Altogether, the General Assembly has held 65 sessions since its inception.

The GA presidency rotates annually between five geographic blocs. The current GA president is Nassir Adbulaziz Al-Nasser, a veteran diplomat from Qatar, who was elected president of the 66th GA session on June 22.

According to the UN Charter, the GA has the powers of overseeing the budget of the world body, appointing the secretary- general, electing the non-permanent members of the Security Council, and making recommendations on the form of GA resolutions.

The GA is also empowered to make recommendations to member states on international issues within its competence. It has also initiated actions -- political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal -- which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

Voting in the GA on important questions like recommendations on peace and security, admission or expulsion of members and budgetary matters is by a two-thirds majority, while other issues are decided by a simple majority. Each member country has one vote.

Special sessions may be convened at the request of the UN Security Council, or a majority of UN members, or of a single member if the majority concurs. A special session was held in September 2000 to celebrate the millennium and put forward the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight poverty-eradicating targets to be reached by 2015.

The GA subsidiary organs are divided into five categories, including 30 committees, seven commissions, six boards, five councils and panels and several working groups.

The work of the United Nations year-round derives largely from the mandates given by the GA -- that is to say, the will of the majority of the members as expressed in resolutions and decisions adopted by the Assembly.

That work is carried out by committees and other bodies established by the GA to study and report on specific issues, such as disarmament, peacekeeping, development and human rights; in international conferences called for by the Assembly; and by the UN Secretariat -- the secretary-general and its staff of international civil servants.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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