Topics for GA Plenary are set at conference.
As the largest committee, General Assembly Plenary creates a variety of policies and opinions. In this committee, delegates have the opportunity to write about the topic that they would like to see debated at conference. During the opening session of committee, delegates will be able to convince their peers of the importance that their issue be debated when setting the agenda.
When developing your position papers, consider topics that are most relevant and significant in our highly globalized, inter-connected world. Consider how our committee as part of a multilateral, cooperative body can help to define, negotiate, or effectively resolve key issues in the global community today.
Delegates for GA Plen must only write 1 paper to be eligible for an award.
The General Assembly is one of the 5 main bodies of the United Nations. It is the only body where all member states of the United Nations are present. Each delegation receives only one vote. Consistent with the UN charter, the General Assembly does not have direct power to authorize armed interventions, levy embargos, or establish peacekeeping missions. Instead, the General Assembly makes recommendations to the United Nations Security Council or other relevant organizations. Discussions in the General Assembly on important questions will require two- thirds majority of member states present and voting. Such important questions include recommendations pertaining to international peace and security, election of member states to other organs, the admittance of member states into the United Nations, etc. Other questions will require a simple majority of member states present and voting to pass. One exception is if the Security Council fails to maintain international peace and security because disagreements prevent it from taking action, then the General Assembly may take limited action in its place: [A/RES/377 (V) A].
Since the United Nations’ conception at the San Francisco Conference in 1945, the General Assembly has grown from the original 51 members to 193 member nations. The demographics and representation of the General Assembly have certainly changed since then. The General Assembly has now become a place for smaller nations, aside from the Permanent Five (the “P5”), to voice their opinions. In the early stages of the United Nations, the General Assembly often conceded to the wishes of the Permanent Five Security Council members. But after the period of European imperialism, Latin American and African countries flooded into the General Assembly, greatly outnumbering European and Western nations and forever changing the demographics of the committee.
One great power that the General Assembly retains is its ability to establish councils, working boards, and organizations. A great success has recently been the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006. The UNHRC has changed the way the United Nations identifies human rights violations with its ability to oversee and authorize Human Rights Task Forces.
The General Assembly also takes action on maintaining international peace and security if the United Nations Security Council is unable, usually due to disagreement among the permanent members, to exercise its primary responsibility. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within 24 hours of the request. Such emergency special sessions are to be called if requested by the UN Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations.
In the 21st century, the future relevance of the General Assembly is in doubt. Generally, due to the slow pace of the committee, it is often difficult to get specific policy decisions made much less implemented. With the exception to the Security Council, UN resolutions have no mandate on countries. These resolutions can only recommend certain policies. Even though General Assembly Resolutions are generally non-binding on member states, they carry considerable political weight and are legally binding towards the operations of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly remains the one organ where every member country is represented. However, the slow pace in which the committee deliberates is a key reason why most countries now prefer to not go through the United Nations. In order for the United Nations to become more relevant in the future, something must be changed in order to both optimize equal representation and efficiency.