United Nations General Assembly
The General Assembly is the chief deliberative organ. Its powers and functions under Chapter IV of the Charter are extensive. It makes proposals to States to develop international cooperation in a wide range of fields (politics, development of international law, in the economic and social fields, culture, education, public health, human rights, etc.). The General Assembly may intervene to maintain international peace and security, except where the Security Council is competent. Its role is also to elect the United Nations Secretary-General (on the recommendation of the Security Council), the non-permanent members of the UNSC and the members of the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Human Rights Council. It considers and approves the United Nations budget. It comprises one representative from each Member State, who has a single vote (on the principle of “one State, one vote”) in order to put all 192 Member States on an equal footing.
Each year, the General Assembly meets in ordinary session from September to December. With the close of the general debate, the Assembly begins consideration of the substantive items on its agenda. Because of the great number of questions it is called upon to consider, the Assembly allocates items relevant to its work among its six Main Committees. The Committees discuss the items, seeking where possible to harmonise the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration.
Competences of the Main Committees:
First Committee: disarmament and related international security questions;
Second Committee: economic and financial;
Third Committee: social, humanitarian and cultural issues (dealing largely in practice with questions of human rights);
Fourth Committee: special political questions and decolonisation;
Fifth Committee: administrative and budgetary questions;
Sixth Committee: international legal matters.
Millennium and Millennium + 5 Summits
The Millennium Summit was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 6-8 September 2000. This was a historic occasion for Member States to address the “role of the United Nations in the 21st century”. Discussion of the challenges to be faced addressed poverty, peace and the environment. The then Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, asked leaders to commit themselves to achieving a number of objectives by 2015. He formulated these objectives as part of an action plan to make globalisation of benefit to all. The objectives included the “Millennium Development Goals”. The Summit also saw the signature of international agreements, particularly concerning the International Criminal Court, land mines, women and children’s rights, as well as climate change.
Five years later a second Summit was held in New York in September 2005, before the 60th session of the UNGA, to make an initial review one-third of the way towards the target date. Despite the progress made, the UN Secretary-General reminded countries of the need to meet their commitments, especially for the MDGs.
At the 2005 Summit, a Millennium + 5 Declaration was adopted, laying down the major outlines of UN reform, particularly for peace and security (creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, stronger action against terrorism), development (importance of finding innovative sources of financing for development aid, possible creation of a United Nations Environment Organisation-UNEO), human rights (recognition of the principle of the responsibility to protect civil populations against genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, creation of a Human Rights Council) and the administration of the UN.
A Summit on the monitoring of the Millenium Development Goals will be held in New York from September 20th to 22nd, 2010.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Eradicate extreme poverty hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development
The Goals are built around “targets” and indicators for tracking progress in each field, monitored by the entire United Nations system and, in particular, each of its agencies.
Update : July 2010
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