Introduction to the Committee: General Assembly

History

Established in 1945 under the United Nations Charter, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. The first session of the UN General Assembly was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Methodist Central Hall in London with representatives from 51 nations. The next few annual sessions were held in different cities: the second session in New York City, and the third in Paris. Finally, it moved to the permanent Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City at the start of its seventh regular annual session, on 14 October 1952. In 1960, the General Assembly witnessed a historical milestone as 17 newly-independent states obtained membership.

Mandate

The UNGA consists of 193 Member States (at the current moment) that convene in New York once annually. The voting procedure of the General Assembly is “one country, one vote”. The UNGA is also made up of many boards, commissions, committees, councils, panels, and working groups. The General Assembly can adopt resolutions based on the recommendations of its subsidiary organs and can pass resolutions on key international topics within the scope of the United Nations. Once passed, the UNGA’s resolutions become recommendations for the Member States, and with the exception of budget-related documents, are non-binding, which means that the Assembly cannot forcefully impose its recommendations on the Member States.

All resolutions regarding recommendations on peace and security, budgetary concerns, and the election, admission, suspension or expulsion of members required a two-thirds majority among the Member States. Every other resolution is adopted with a simple majority. One of the mandates of the UNGA is discussing and making recommendations on the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations, including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Resolutions by the UNGA pertaining to the reform of the UNSC can only be passed with a two-thirds majority and five permanent members of the council must also agree.

Annual session and activity

It is not mandatory how many sessions does the UNGA hold a year. Depends on the situation, the UN can summon several special sessions. However, the UNGA is often held once during autumn every year, pinned as the great gathering of all nations from around the world. In the meeting, representatives from each Member State take turns to deliver a general statement (which is known as “Opening Speech” in the MUN setting) reflecting the country’s stances on a number of topics. The main discussions will then spread out to the rest of its six main committees and other relevant working groups. The Secretary-General shall notify the Members of the United Nations, at least sixty days in advance, of the opening of a regular session.

Reference:

Grant, H. (2015, September 14). What is the UN general assembly? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/14/what-is-the-un-general-assembly