Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Composition and Functions of General Assembly and Security Council

Organizational Structure

The United Nations system is based on five principal organs 1) UN General Assembly, (2) UN Security Council, (3) UN Economic and Social Council, (4) UN Secretariat, and (5) International Court of Justice.

1. UN General Assembly

the UN General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is made up of all United Nations member states and meets in regular yearly sessions. As the only UN organ in which all members are represented, the assembly serves as a forum for members to discuss issues of international law and to make decisions regarding the functioning of the organization.

2. UN Security Council

The UN Security council is charged with maintaining peace and security among nations. While other organ of the United Nations only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions those member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. The decisions of the Council are known as United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, consisting of five permanent seats and ten temporary seats. The permanent five are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These members hold veto power over substantive but not procedural resolutions allowing a permanent member to block adoption but not debate of a resolution unacceptable to it. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the UN General Assembly on a regional basis. The presidency of the Security Council is rotated alphabetically each month.

The Security Council has been criticized for being unable to act in a clear and decisive way when confronted with a crisis. The veto power of the five permanent members has been cited as the cause of this problem. The makeup of the security council back to the end of World War II, and this division of powers no longer represents the state of the world. Critics question the effectiveness and relevance of the Security Council because enforcement relies on the member nations and there usually are no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution.

3. UN Economic and Social Council

4. UN Secretariat

The United Nations Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies. The United Nations Charter provides that the staff be chosen by application of the “highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity,” with due regard for the importance of recruiting on a wide geographical basis.

5. International Court of Justice

Netherlands, is the main court of the UN. Its purpose is to adjudicate disputes among states. The court has heard cases related to war crimes, illegal state interference and ethnic cleansing, among others. The ICJ was created in 1946 and continues to hear cases.

A related court, the International Criminal Court (ICC), began operating in 2002 through international discussions initiated by the General Assembly. It is the first permanent international court charged with trying those who commit the most under international law, including war crimes and genocide. The ICC is functionally independent of the UN in terms of personnel and financing, but some meetings of the ICC governing body, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, are held at the UN. There is a “relationship agreement” between the ICC and the UN that governs how the two institutions regard each other legally.


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