The main deliberative organ of the United Nations Organization, where representatives of every member country sit and have a vote. The Assembly, based at UN headquarters in New York, can discuss and make recommendations on all questions which fall within the scope of the UN Charter; it is also responsible for the UN budget. It first met in January 1946 and meets for three months annually in regular session, although both special and emergency sessions can also be convened. Such sessions have been held to discuss issues of particular importance, such as the Suez War in 1956, Palestine, disarmament, or the sanctioning of the US-led war against Iraq in 1991. It may also meet when the United Nations Security Council has failed to agree on a course of action in an international dispute, such as occurred in Afghanistan (1980), Namibia (1981), and the Israeli-occupied Arab territories (1982). Decisions on important questions require a two-thirds majority, otherwise a simple majority is sufficient. In the UN's early years, the USA could normally command a majority in the General Assembly, but with the dramatic increase in new members following decolonization, the balance shifted to favour the developing countries, who were often unwilling to endorse the policies of either superpower, preferring to adopt a non-aligned stance (see Non-Aligned Movement). Since the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, the General Assembly's numbers have been further swelled by newly independent republics. In 2006 there were 191 member states.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.