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International Organizations. Part 2. The General Assembly. Central body of the UN Every member state is represented and has 1 vote 6 official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish Described as the ‘town-hall meeting of the world’

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the general assembly
The General Assembly
  • Central body of the UN
  • Every member state is represented and has 1 vote
  • 6 official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish
  • Described as the ‘town-hall meeting of the world’
  • Purpose is the examine, debate, and promote global consensus on issues of common concern
general assembly 2
General Assembly 2
  • None of its resolutions are legally binding, they do carry the weight of shared world governmental opinion
  • Some decisions pertaining to issues such as peace, security, the budget, and the admission of new members are considered so important that they require a two-thirds majority vote
  • Other issues are decided by a majority
security council
Security Council
  • Most powerful organ of the UN
  • Primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security
  • While other organs simply offer recommendations to member states, the Security Council has the power to make decisions that are legally binding on all members under the UN Charter
  • SC decisions are supported by a system of sanctions for enforcing compliance
security council 2
Security Council 2
  • Made up of 15 members
  • The victors of WWII became the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the UK and US)
  • 10 non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly every two years
security council 3
Security Council 3
  • In the event of a threat to international peace, the SC can take several distinct courses of action
  • Mediation or settlement
  • Peacekeeping missions
  • Ceasefire if fighting has already occurred
  • Economic sanctions
  • Arms embargos
  • Military action
security council 4
Security Council 4
  • When economic sanctions and blockades ordered by the SC fail to bring countries into compliance with the aims of the UN, force may be used.
  • Chapter VII of the UN Charter empowers the SC to make decisions denouncing acts of aggression and to take action and use force if necessary
  • The use of force requires 9 affirmative votes which must include the 5 permanent members
  • A veto by a permanent member prevents the adoption of a proposal even if there are nine of more affirmative votes
security council 5
Security Council 5
  • The SC has a number of standing (permanent) and ad-hoc (temporary, issue-based) committees to assist in its work
  • The SC has also established two war crimes tribunals which arose out of civil strife in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
  • It also supervises the ongoing disarmament programs. (example – monitoring Iraq’s destruction of its weapons)
the secretariat
The Secretariat
  • Carries out the day-to-day work of the UN
  • AKA the UN’s civil service, headed by the Secretary General who is elected by the GA on the recommendation of the SC for a 5 year, renewable term
  • Has a staff of approx. 8900, from 170 countries
  • All members of the Secretariat take an oath to serve the UN alone and not to receive instructions from any gov. or outside authority
economic and social council
Economic and Social Council
  • ECOSOC coordinates the social work of the UN
  • Consults with NGOs on issues such as immunization and financing of refugee camps
  • Has 54 members, elected by the GA for 3 year terms
  • Seats are allotted based on geographical representation (14 African, 11 Asian, 6 Eastern European, 10 Latin American, 13 Western Europe and other)
ecosoc 2
  • Concerned with diverse issues such as the status of women, crime prevention, environmental protection
  • UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is an example of an organization that report to the UN through ECOSOC
  • WHO (World Health Organization) mandate:
  • Promote international coopertion in support of global health
  • Develop and manage programs for controlling and eliminating disease
  • Work to improve the quality of life of people all over the world
the trusteeship council
The Trusteeship Council
  • Established to help prepare 11 countries that had been under colonial rule to become independent countries at the end of WWI
  • Example:
    • German East Africa – now Tanzania
    • Iraq (was under British mandate)
    • Palau (in the South Pacific was under US mandate)
  • Suspended operations in 1994 when all 11 states became independent
international court of justice
International Court of Justice
  • ICJ is the legal organ of the UN
  • On the recommendation of the SC the GA elects 15 judges to this court
  • Purpose is to settle disputes among member states and render opinions in the form of advisories on behalf of the UN
  • Participation is voluntary, however once an member agrees to participate that member is obligated to comply with whatever decision is made by the ICJ
  • The court does not hear cases relating to individual citizens