Just the Facts

Five Facts on the United Nations General Assembly

By Emma Petasis
September 24, 2018 | Blog

The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly opened this week; it will last three months and then will recongregate as required. The first day of the high-level general debate will be Tuesday. It is an opportunity for nations to address the international community but also to air grievances. Here are five facts on the United Nations General Assembly.

The United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN

The GA is one of six main organs of the United Nations. It is the only one in which all member states have equal representation: one nation, one vote. In total, there are 193 member states of the United Nations and each member is represented in this forum to discuss and work together on various international issues. These issues range from peace and security to international law. The General Assembly plays a key role in financing peacekeeping. During this period, all members meet in the General Assembly Hall in New York for this annual session.

UN resolutions put forward during former assemblies have influenced major world events, the creation of sovereign states, and the defense of international human rights, despite the UN not technically being an “action body

The UN General Assembly’s notable achievements include aiding negotiations to end the Korean War, deploying a peacekeeping force to help end the Suez Crisis, and the Assembly’s call to end colonialism around the world. More recently, during the 2000 General Assembly, the UN released the Millennium Declaration, which has provided a blueprint for reducing poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and improving access to primary education worldwide. As a result, significant advances have been made since on education, infant mortality, and poverty.

The United States has recently been willing to contest the consensus of the GA, most notably with the Trump administration’s recent decision to leave the UN Human Rights Council and its decision to move US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv

 However, the U.S. remains actively involved in the General Assembly on many areas of shared interest including those pertaining to sustainable development and international security.

The theme of this year’s General Assembly is: “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies”

There are a variety of issues that will be discussed, including Climate & Environment, Conflict & Migration, Data, Economic Development, Education, General Development, Global Goals Week, Health, Noncommunicable Diseases, Tuberculosis, Women & Girls, and Youth Leadership. President Trump is said to want to talk about “protecting U.S. sovereignty, foreign aid and how generous the U.S. is, but also will lay down a marker that we’ll be generous to those that share our values and want to work us – not those that say they hate the US.” He has already given his address at the “Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem,” and said that the United States is committed to ‘fighting the drug epidemic together’ as the ‘scourge’ of drug addiction continues to grip much of the U.S. and its closest allies around the world.”

Each of the 193 countries within the United Nations sends an assembly person to attend the meeting of the General Assembly when it convenes each year

These assembly people work together to regulate the various specialty bodies that function within the organization. The responsibilities of assembly members include electing a president and 21 vice presidents to preside over each session, voting on a variety of international initiatives, and reviewing the organization’s peacekeeping financing. Assembly members work amongst themselves in attempts to achieve a consensus before a vote is taken to increase implementation and commitment to the recommendation on the floor.


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