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Things to know about UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly on Tuesday opened its 74th session. Following are the things to know about this major UN body.

The General Assembly, established under the UN Charter, is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is the only one in which all UN members have equal representation.

The other five major organs of the United Nations are the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice.

The major powers of the General Assembly include the approval and oversight of the UN budget, the appointment of non-permanent members to the Security Council and the appointment of the UN secretary-general. The General Assembly also makes recommendations in the form of General Assembly resolutions.

Each member state has one vote in the General Assembly.

Voting in the General Assembly on important issues, such as the election of Security Council members, recommendations on peace and security, budgetary matters, and the admission, suspension or expulsion of members is by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. Other questions are decided by a simple majority.

Apart from the approval of budgetary matters, General Assembly resolutions are not binding.

However, the General Assembly may take action if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

In such a scenario, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to member states for collective measures, including the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The General Assembly has committees, commissions, boards, councils and panels as subsidiary organs.

The six main committees are: the First Committee (for disarmament), the Second Committee (for economic and financial affairs), the Third Committee (for social, cultural, and humanitarian issues), the Fourth Committee (for special political and decolonization issues), the Fifth Committee (for administrative and budgetary issues), and the Sixth Committee (for legal matters).

At present, the General Assembly has 193 members, with the Holy See and Palestine as non-member observer states.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria is the president of the 74th session of the General Assembly.

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