“Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 192 Members of the United Nations, it provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. [...] Each Member State in the Assembly has one vote. Votes taken on designated important issues [...] require a two-thirds majority of Member States, but other questions are decided by simple majority.“ (UN General Assembly Website, http://www.un.org/ga/about/background.shtml, accessed on 8 June 2008)
“While the Assembly is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues within its competence, it has, nonetheless, initiated actions - political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal - which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.” (UN General Assembly Website, http://www.un.org/ga/about/background.shtml, accessed on 8 June 2008)
Target group:
UN member states, UN agencies, policy makers, civil society organisations, media, general public.
According to the UN Charter, the General Assembly may, inter alia:
“Receive and consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs;”
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 [...] make recommendations on it” (except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the UN Security Council);
“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;”
The General Assembly also decides on the UN budget and elects “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” (UN General Assembly Website, http://www.un.org/ga/about/background.shtml, accessed on 8 June 2008).
UN budget.
Scope of Reporting:
Geographic focus: All countries worldwide.
Thematic focus: General situation, political developments, security situation, security sector and rule of law, governance, human rights, humanitarian situation, HIV/AIDS, crimes by armed forces, sexual violence, prison conditions, justice and impunity, inhuman treatment and extrajudicial executions, peaceful settlements, military incursions, food and nutrition, refugees, vulnerable groups, political prisoners, human rights violations and accountability, discrimination against minorities, poverty, forced labour, democratisation, political participation, etc.
Reporting methodology:
Country Reports (on monitoring the progress towards the implementation of the UN conventions, declarations and other adopted instruments, for instance: UNGASS Country Reports on AIDS/HIV) are prepared by respective national authorities/bodies and submitted to the UN General Assembly.
The preparation process consists of data collection via surveys, compilation of existing data sets, interviews with experts in the respective sector (government institutions, UN agencies, international and local NGOs), study of working papers and studies (of World Bank, WHO, local institutions, etc).
Reports of the Secretary-General reflect the human rights situation in the respective country or monitor specific issues in various countries (such as recruitment of child soldiers). These reports are submitted pursuant to General Assembly or Security Council resolutions and contain information on the progress in the process of implementation of respective UN instruments in a visited country.
The Reports of the Secretary-General are based on information provided by UN field missions, UN agencies, representatives of the Secretary-General and other organisations (Austrian Red Cross/ACCORD: Researching Country of Origin Information - A Training Manual, April 2004 (updated April 2006), Annex, p. 29, http://www.coi-training.net/content/doc/en-COI%20Manual%20Part%20I%20plus%20Annex%2020060426.pdf, accessed on 29 May 2008; information in this section is also taken from various country and Secretary-General reports).
Publication cycle:
Country Reports are submitted to the UN General Assembly by a respective country after a reporting period has expired.
Reports of the Secretary General do not have a general publication cycle.
Most reports are available in English, some of the reports are also available in French or other UN languages.
Navigation of website:
Home > Issues on the Agenda > select a specific issue.
Additional references:
UN Charter (especially Chapter IV)
http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/ (accessed on 2 July 2008)
Wikipedia: United Nations General Assembly
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UN_General_Assembly(accessed on 8 June 2008)
Council on Foreign Relations: The Role of the UN General Assembly (Author: Rebecca Bloom), 31 May 2007
http://www.cfr.org/publication/13490/ (accessed on 2 July 2008)
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source