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The General Assembly

The General Assembly in session.

The General Assembly in session.
Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe

All UN Member States are represented in the General Assembly — a "parliament of nations" which meets regularly and in special sessions to consider the world's most pressing problems. Each Member State has one vote. Decisions on such key issues as international peace and security, admitting new members and the UN budget are decided by two-thirds majority. Other matters are decided by simple majority. In recent years, a special effort has been made to reach decisions through consensus, rather than by taking a formal vote. The Assembly cannot force action by any State, but its recommendations are an important indication of world opinion and represent the moral authority of the community of nations.

The Assembly holds its annual regular session from September to December. When necessary, it may resume its session or hold a special or emergency session on subjects of particular concern. Its work is also carried out by its six Main Committees, other subsidiary bodies and the UN Secretariat.

During its regular session, the Assembly takes up more than 160 different topics, including United Nations reform, restoring respect for the rule of law, the needs of small island developing States, climate change and related humanitarian dangers, and participation by all States in the global trading system. It addresses the political, development and human rights situation in many different countries and regions.