70th United Nations General Assembly Concluded

The United Nations General Assembly wound up its 70th annual General Debate on 3rd October, attended by the highest number of Heads of State and Government ever, with Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft calling it a “historic” event crowned by the “truly seminal commitment” to achieving ambitious new development goals by 2030.

In a closing speech he summarized the multifaceted issues raised by speaker after speaker who took the podium in the Assembly hall, both at the six-day General Debate and the three-day summit on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that preceded it.

The seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on 15 September 2015. Danish parliamentary speaker Mogens Lykketoft was chosen as the consensus candidate of WEOG to preside over the assembly.

The issue of climate change also received significant attention, with speakers describing national measures to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C by reducing emissions, protecting oceans and seas, and combating maritime piracy and other crimes that illegally exploited natural resources.

The Chairmen and officers of the six Main Committees were also elected: First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee) ;Second Committee (Economic and Financial Committee) ; Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee) ; Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization Committee) ; Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Committee) ; and the Sixth Committee (Legal Committee).

The UN General Assembly (GA) is the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN. Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority.

Each country has one vote. Some Member States in arrear of payment may be granted the right to vote. See the list of countries in arrears in the payment of their financial contributions.

The Assembly has adopted its own rules of procedure and elects its President for each session.

Functions and powers of the General Assembly:

The Assembly is empowered to make recommendations to States on international issues within its competence. The Assembly has initiated actions — political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal — which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

The landmark Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000, and the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document reflect the commitment of Member States to reach specific goals to attain peace, security and disarmament along with development and poverty eradication; to safeguard human rights and promote the rule of law; to protect our common environment; to meet the special needs of Africa; and to strengthen the United Nations.

According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may:

  • Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States
  • Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General;
  • Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament;
  • Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it;
  • Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations;
  • Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields;
  • Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among nations;
  • Consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs.

The Assembly may also take action in cases of a threat to the peace, breach of peace or act of aggression, when the Security Council has failed to act owing to the negative vote of a permanent member.

In such instances, according to its “Uniting for Peace” resolution of November 1950 (resolution 377 (V)), the Assembly may consider the matter immediately and recommend to its Members collective measures to maintain or restore international peace and security (See “Special sessions and emergency special sessions”).