UNO and Its Organs: The General Assembly and Function of GA

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  • It is an organization of sovereign states, which join the UN to work for world peace.
  • It came into force on 24th October 1945. It had 51 member countries and now there are 191 members with Sudan being the most recent to join in 2011 July.
  • UN is sometimes described as ‘Parliament of Nations’ .
  • UN is a forum or a virtual meeting place for nations to discuss matters relating to world peace.
  • It doesn՚t have an army, or it doesn՚t impose taxes. It is dependent on the political will of the members to impose the restrictions and contribute to carry out its activities. It plays an important role in reducing the international wars and conflicts .
  • The head quarter is located in New York .

Six Main UN Organs

  • The General Assembly (chapter 4 Art 9 - 22)
  • The Security Council
  • The Trusteeship Council
  • The Economic And Social Council
  • The International Court Of Justice
  • The Secretariat.

The General Assembly

  • Art 9 of UN Charter- It is a deliberative organ which is comprised of all it member and has got one vote in spite of size and influence.
  • It may discuss on matters arising out of UN Charter. Decisions on international peace and security, admitting new member State.
  • Art 18 (para1) UN budget is decided by 2/3rd majority. Other matters are decided by simple majority.
  • Each year GA elects a president who presides over such meetings as a neutral party.
  • Work of the Assembly is also carried out by 6 committees, the Human Rights Council, other subsidiary bodies and UN Secretariat.

The Six Main Committees of GA Are

  • First Committee (Disarmament & International Security)
  • Second Committee (Economic & Financial)
  • Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural)
  • Fourth Committee (Special Political & Decolonization)
  • Fifth Committee (Administrative & Budgetary)
  • Sixth Committee (Legal)

Function of GA

  • GA may consider and approve the budget and establish the financial assessment of member states.
  • Elect non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other UN councils and organs. Appoint Secretary General with the recommendation of the Security Council.
  • It may consider the general principles of co-operation in the maintenance of international peace and security, including the principles governing disarmament.
  • It may discuss any questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any member of the UN, Security Council, or by a State which is not a member of the UN to make recommendations with regard to any such question on which action is necessary shall be referred to the Security Council.
  • Make recommendation affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the UN.
  • Initiate studies and make recommendation to promote international political development and codification of international law, the realization of Human rights and fundamental freedoms and international collaboration in economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields.
  • Promote friendly relations and consider reports from security council and UN organs.

The Security Council (Art 22 - 32)


  • There are five permanent members China, France, UK, USA, USSR.
  • Ten other non-permanent members elected every two years. Immediate re-election is not allowed.
  • India was a part of SC for 7 years. Most recent being 2010 - 2012.
  • To pass the resolution the 5 pm should vote yes, if they vote no collectively it becomes veto.

Art 27- Voting System

  • Each member of the SC should have one vote.
  • Decisions of SC on procedural matter should be made by affirmative vote of 9 members.
  • Decisions of the SC on the other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of 9 member including concurring votes of permanent members. (procedural and non-procedural undefined in charter)
  • Art 52 para 3 a party to dispute shall abstain from voting.

Duties and Functions

  • Primary responsibility is to maintain peace and security. Whenever the peace is threatened it can be convened. When threat to peace is brought before the council it adheres to peaceful means by establishing peace keeping operations.
  • Member states is obligated to carry out all the decisions which is binding on them.
  • To call on members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force in order to prevent or stop aggression.
  • To take military action against an aggressor and regulate armaments.
  • Council recommends GA the admission of new members and the appointment of the Secretary General and along with GA elects judges of ICJ.

Economic and Social Council

  • Ecosoc is the central body for coordinating the economic and social work of the UN. Art 61 - 72.
  • The council has 54 members which are chosen for equal geographic representation and serve a three-year term. Art 61.
  • Voting is done by simple majority. Art 67.
  • Council makes recommendation aimed to promote economic growth of developing countries, supporting HR and fostering world cooperation to fight poverty and under-development.
  • Prepare draft convention and submit it to GA.
  • To meet the specific needs GA has set up few specific agencies like Food and Agriculture Organization, WHO, UN Educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) , UN development programme (UNDP) , UN Children fund (UNICEF) , office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . ECOSOC coordinates the activities of these agencies.

The Trusteeship Council (Article 86 - 91)

  • It is assigned to supervise the administration of 11 trust territories former colonies or dependent territories places under this system.
  • It was created post world war 2 to promote advancement of those dependent territories towards self-governance.
  • 70 colonial Territories including 11 trust territories have attained independence with the help of UN. Palau was the last territory to become independent in 1994. It is not operative since then.
  • This council is comprised of 5 permanent members and each has one vote each.

International Court of Justice (Art 92 - 96)

  • Also called World Court, The principal Judicial Organ of the UN, located in Hague, Netherlands. It was established in 1945 but came into action in 1947.
  • The court settles legal disputes between nations, and they are not obligated by the decisions unless any treaty specifically mentions that. If a country accepts court՚s jurisdiction, it must comply with the decisions.
  • It has issued advisory opinion to the requests of the UN Organization
  • It consists of 15 judges — no two of whom may be nationals of the same state — who are elected to nine-year terms by majority votes in the UN General Assembly and the security council. The judges, one-third of whom are elected every three years, are eligible for re-election. The judges elect their own president and vice president.
  • Member of the courts do not represent their government but are independent magistrates. Majority of 9 judges make the decision.

The Secretariat

The secretariat carries out the substantive and administrative work of the United Nations as directed by the General Assembly, the security council and the other organs. At its head is the secretary-general, who provides overall administrative guidance. the main functions of the secretariat are:

  • to gather and prepare background information on various issues so that government delegates can study the facts and make recommendations
  • to help carry out the decisions made by the different organs of the United Nations.
  • to organize international conferences.
  • to translate speeches and distribute documents into the UN՚s official languages.
  • to keep the public informed about the work of the United Nations.

As of 30th June 2012, the Secretariat had some 43,000 staff members around the world. As international civil servants, staff members and the Secretary-General answer to the united nations alone for their activities, and take an oath not to seek or receive instructions from any government or outside authority the United Nations, while headquartered in New York, maintains a significant presence in Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna, and has offices all over the world.


1. Art 67 of UN Charter deals with:

a. Each member of the ECOSOC should have one vote.

b. A party to dispute shall abstain from voting.

c. The council has 54 members which are chosen for equal geographic representation and serve a three-year term.

d. Voting is done by simple majority.

Answer: A

2. Last country to get independence under UN Trusteeship Council was:

a. Palastine

b. Palau

c. Somalialand

d Western Samoa

Answer: B