United Nations General Assembly

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United Nations General Assembly

To achieve the declared purposes of the United Nations (UN), the UN Charter of 1945 provided for the establishment of a number of organs, including the General Assembly and Security Council. The Assembly is empowered to discuss any question or matters within the scope of the Charter. For this reason it can be described as the world's most important forum for political discussion. Also, owing to its various functions under the Charter, it holds a prominent position among the organs of the UN. Committees and other bodies established by the Assembly to study and report on specific issues carry out much of its work.

The Assembly is the only principal organ of the UN in which all member states are represented; it was conceived to closely resemble, in both function and structure, a representative legislative assembly. President Franklin D. Roosevelt often referred to the Security Council as the body with the power, while the Assembly was the place for small countries to "let off steam."


The Assembly's composition and role under the Charter give it a legitimacy that few other international organs possess. It is made up of representatives of the member states of the UN. These individuals act on the instructions of their governments. In this way the Assembly is a conference of states, not a world parliament of representatives for all peoples of the world. Nearly every state in the world is a member of the UN and represented in the Assembly.

An issue that arises from time to time is that of representation at the Assembly. Each member state has one vote in the Assembly. However, only one delegation is entitled to be admitted from each member state. This may seem straightforward at first, but the Assembly sometimes must deal with rival claimants from the same state. Such a scenario arises as a result of armed conflicts and civil wars around the globe. The Assembly has the right and responsibility to decide between rival claimants, but in so doing, it can be described as determining which faction is the rightful government of a particular state. A number of important controversies developed over representation, most notably those involving China between 1949 and 1971, the Congo in 1960, Yemen in 1962, and Kampuchea (Cambodia) from 1970 to 1991.

Several political and legal issues surface in deciding between rival claimants, but it is difficult to discern any definite criteria for recognition apart from a general leaning toward the principle of effectiveness. This means that a government will be regarded as the legitimate representative of a state as long as it has not been replaced by a rival claimant independent of the support of a foreign power. This can be seen in the Assembly's decision in 1971 to recognize the government in Beijing, and not that in Taiwan, as the legitimate representative of China.

More significant was the policy regarding the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea (Cambodia) after it lost power to the Heng Samrin government in 1979. Many states believed that the new government owed its position to the support of foreign powers, in particular Vietnam. The regime thus lacked legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, despite the fact that it had replaced one of the most despotic governments of the twentieth century. The Assembly continued to recognize the representatives of Pol Pot, in spite of the appalling human rights record of that government. The UN decision was very controversial, especially because the scale and extent of the killings, and persecution of Cambodians by the regime, were well known at the time. Many historians referred to these events as genocide. However, owing to the fact that the perpetrators and victims belonged to the same national group, they were not accepted as constituting genocide according to the narrow definition of the crime under international law. The issue posed the serious question of whether a regime that perpetrated such crimes against its own people should remain its legitimate state representative in the Assembly. There are no easy answers.

The UN is dedicated primarily to the maintenance of international peace and security by protecting the territorial integrity, political independence, and national sovereignty of its members. But the overwhelming majority of today's conflicts are internal, not interstate. Moreover, the proportion of civilians killed in such conflicts has dramatically increased from about one in ten at the start of the twentieth century to around nine out of ten at its close. This has forced the Assembly and other organs to seek to reconcile the foundational principle of member states' sovereignty and the mandate to maintain international peace and security with the equally compelling mission to promote human rights and the general welfare of people within those states.

The Secretary-General has addressed the dilemma within the conceptual framework of two notions of sovereignty: one vested in the state, the second in peoples and individuals. This is reflected in the 2001 Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which advances the argument that state sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state. However, when a population begins to suffer serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression, or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of nonintervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.

Functions and Powers of the General Assembly

Under the UN Charter, the functions and powers of the Assembly are wide-ranging but ill-defined. This stands in direct contrast to the unambiguous primacy given to the Security Council in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security. It is important to bear in mind that the UN by its very nature does not infringe on the independence and sovereign powers of member states. Article 2(7) of the Charter expressly prohibits interference in matters that essentially fall within the domestic jurisdiction of states. The nonintervention clause is a fundamental principle of the organization. In practice, deciding whether a matter is within the domestic jurisdiction of a state or not is more a political than legal question. Furthermore, human rights and related issues may be deemed matters of concern to the international community if they pose a threat to international peace and security.

The Assembly's powers are described in Chapter IV of the Charter. Although Articles 10 and 14 grant generous powers to the Assembly, Articles 11 and 12 appear to restrict these. Decisions on important questions (peace and security, new members, budgetary issues) require a two-thirds majority. A simple majority may reach decisions on other issues. The powers of the Assembly may be summarized as follows:

  • To make recommendations on cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security
  • To discuss any question relating to international peace and security, and to make recommendations, except when a dispute or situation is under discussion by the Security Council
  • To discuss and, with the same exception as above, make recommendations on any question within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the UN
  • To initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation; the development and codification of international law; the recognition of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all; and international collaboration in economic, social, cultural, educational, and health fields
  • To make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation, regardless of origin, that might impair friendly relations among nations
  • To consider reports from the Security Council and other UN organs
  • To approve the UN budget and divide contributions among members
  • To elect the nonpermanent members of the Security Council, the members of the Economic and Social Council, and those members of the Trusteeship Council that are elected
  • To elect, jointly with the Security Council, the Judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • To appoint on the recommendation of the Security Council, the Secretary-General

Procedures and Voting

According to Article 18 of the Charter, each member of the Assembly shall have one vote, allowing equal participation in decisions. This is intended to reflect the sovereign equality of member states.

The Assembly is required to meet in regular sessions, and these usually begin each year in September. At the start of each regular session, the Assembly elects a new president, twenty-one vice-presidents, and the chairpersons of the Assembly's six main committees. To ensure equitable geographical representation, the presidency of the Assembly rotates each year among five groups of states: African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other states. In addition to its regular sessions, the Assembly may meet in special sessions at the request of the Security Council, a majority of member states, or one member if the majority of members concurs. At the beginning of each regular session, the Assembly holds a general debate, with heads of state and government often addressing the body, and member states express their views on issues of international concern.

Most questions are discussed in the Assembly's six main committees, where voting occurs by simple majority:

  1. First Committee: Disarmament and International Security Committee
  2. Second Committee: Economic and Financial Committee
  3. Third Committee: Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
  4. Fourth Committee: Special Political and Decolonisation Committee
  5. Fifth Committee: Administrative and Budgetary Committee
  6. Sixth Committee: Legal Committee

The majority of the Assembly's decisions are made through the affirmative vote of two-thirds or more of its members. Proposals representing a decision of the Assembly have frequently been adopted without a formal vote taken in plenary meetings. Resolutions may be adopted by acclamation, without objection or without a vote, or the vote may be recorded or taken by roll call. This consensus approach has played a significant role in the practice of the Assembly. Although the decisions of the Assembly are not legally binding on governments, they carry significant moral and persuasive authority. No proposals have been made to change the voting system at the Assembly. However, the large number of smaller states admitted as members does raise legitimate questions given the disparity in size, population, and other characteristics of member states.

Expansion of Powers through Practice

Article 10 of the Charter is its most significant; it defines the Assembly's powers of discussion and recommendation in their broadest form:

The General Assembly may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the present Charter, and, except as provided in Article 12 may make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council or to both on any such questions or matters.

It is evident from this Article, and the practice of the Assembly, that the range of questions or matters which the Assembly is authorized to discuss is as wide as the scope of the Charter itself. Since adoption, its broad terms have been the principal basis for an expansion of its role beyond that envisaged by the Charter's drafters. When this Article was being drafted, it provoked a serious crisis that was resolved only after high-level consultation between the former Soviet Union and the United States. The original proposal put forward would have given the Assembly no real power in the political field. Although most of the differences of opinion concerned the issue of the maintenance of international peace and security in relation to those of the Security Council, the matter of the Assembly's freedom of discussion was also crucial.

The general scope of this Article and the breadth of powers it confers have been referred to many times in plenary and committee meetings by representatives who wished to stress the overall responsibility of the Assembly as a world forum for considering international problems. However, the vagueness and sweeping extent of Article 10 also reflect the Assembly's lack of power to make a binding decision. Although such decisions or recommendations may carry significant weight and authority, it is because they are not binding that they too often are imprecise and general in nature.

Articles 11 and 12 circumscribe the role of the Assembly. However, it is clear from these and other articles that while the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, it does not have exclusive competence, especially as far as the Assembly is concerned. The smaller and middle power states were opposed to any restriction on the jurisdiction of the Assembly, whereas the major powers stressed the need to avoid disputes between the Assembly and Security Council on vital matters. Nevertheless, the extent of the limitation imposed on the Assembly should not be exaggerated. It applies only to the Assembly's recommendatory, not deliberative, powers. The right of the Assembly to discuss, consider, and debate any issues, including those relating to the maintenance of international peace, remains. The reason for such a rule arises from the different role and functions of the Assembly. An international crisis does not automatically guarantee an agreed upon response, and the differences in the composition of the Security Council and Assembly could lead to conflicting responses from both.

A major step in the development of the Assembly's role was the adoption of the Uniting for Peace resolution on November 3, 1950 (passed in connection with the crisis in Korea). Under this resolution the Assembly may take action if the Security Council, because of a lack of unanimity among its permanent members, fails to act in a case where there appears to be a threat to peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression. The Assembly is empowered to consider the matter immediately and make recommendations to members for collective measures. This includes, in the case of a breach of peace or act of aggression, the use of armed force when necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Acting under Uniting for Peace Resolution 377(V) of November 5, 1950, the Assembly established the United Nations Emergency Force to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Israel. The resolution has been utilized additional times, most notably in 1956, after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and, in response, Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt. Both Britain and France vetoed ceasefire resolutions in the Security Council. The United States appealed to the General Assembly, calling for a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces. An emergency session was called under the Uniting for Peace resolution. In this case the Assembly's intervention did facilitate the resolution of the crisis. However, the willingness of the states concerned to comply with the Assembly's demands was due to a complex set of circumstances surrounding the military intervention.

Uniting for Peace was next used by the United States to pressure the Soviet Union into ceasing its intervention in Hungary in 1956. Again, an emergency session of the General Assembly was held and the Soviet Union was ordered to end its intervention. No visible evidence exists that the action influenced Soviet policy to any significant extent at the time. However, two years later the procedure was used to facilitate the resolution of another crisis, that existing in Lebanon.

The cold war and activities of the Asian-African group of states, in particular the support given to various independence movements, led to a new role, not earlier envisaged, for the Assembly. The repeated use of the veto on the Security Council meant that the Assembly was being called on to perform functions originally regarded as the special province of the Security Council. Thus in 1950, when it became apparent that the Security Council could no longer effectively address the mounting hostilities in Korea, the Assembly, on the initiative of the United States, assumed residual responsibility for taking measures necessary to maintain international peace in case of a threat or breach of peace. Often during the cold war all sides used the Assembly as a forum to pursue a war of words. The smaller and middle powers did not oppose the incremental growth in the influence of the Assembly; they now possessed equal say. In this way, political developments combined with a liberal interpretation of the provisions of the Charter to permit the Assembly to assume significant responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security.

It is important to note that the Assembly does not possess any formal mandatory powers along the lines of the Security Council. It can only make recommendations on matters of international peace and security. However, the resolutions it adopts may have a binding effect if they reflect established principles of international law. There is a clear difference between declaring that an existing law calls for a certain response and creating new law.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

As the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg (established to try Nazi war criminals in the aftermath of World War II) drew to a close, the first session of the Assembly was getting underway. The judgment handed down at the Nuremberg Tribunal was controversial in several respects. The limited scope given to "crimes against humanity" at the time was one of the main reasons why it was considered necessary to draft a convention that specifically addressed the crime of genocide.

A crime against humanity referred to a rather wide range of atrocities, but it also had a narrow aspect, in that the prevailing view was that crimes against humanity could only be committed in association with an international armed conflict or war. The Allies had insisted at Nuremberg that crimes against humanity could only be committed if they were associated with one of the other crimes within the IMT's jurisdiction, that is, war crimes and crimes against peace. In effect, they imposed a connection or "nexus," as it became known, between crimes against humanity and international armed conflict. The Assembly wanted to bridge the gap which many perceived to exist in international law as a result by recognizing that one atrocity, namely genocide, would constitute an international crime even if it were committed in time of peace. The price to pay for this, according to William Schabas, was an exceedingly narrow definition of the mental and material elements of the crime. The distinction between genocide and crimes against humanity is less significant today, because the recognized definition of crimes against humanity has evolved and now unquestionably refers to atrocities committed against civilians in both peacetime and wartime.

After the IMT handed down its judgment between September 30, and October 1, 1946, Cuba, India, and Panama asked that the subject of genocide be put on the agenda of the General Assembly's first session. These states were concerned that international law did not seem to govern atrocities committed in peacetime (as opposed to those perpetrated during a time of armed conflict or war). The draft resolution submitted referred to the fact that the punishment of the very serious crime of genocide when committed in time of peace lies within the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of individual states concerned, while crimes of relatively lesser importance are declared as international crimes and have been made matters of international concern. In requesting a report on the possibilities of declaring genocide an international crime and ensuring international cooperation for its prevention and punishment, the Assembly acknowledged that it was not a legislative body and therefore could not make law as such. Nonetheless, any measure it took was vested with incontestable authority.

The final version of Resolution 96(I), adopted by the Assembly on December 11, 1946, called for the preparation of a draft convention. It also affirmed that genocide was a crime under international law. Even though Resolution 96(I) was adopted unanimously and without debate, it is not legally binding. However, the ICJ has acknowledged that such resolutions may have normative value. They can provide evidence of the existence of a customary rule, and the emergence of a legally binding provision.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the Assembly on December 9, 1948, and entered into force two years later on January 11, 1951, after ratification by twenty member states. During the drafting process, significant disagreement arose among states regarding the nature and extent of the crime of genocide. Article I creates an obligation on states to prevent and punish genocide. This was added by the Legal Committee based on proposals from Belgium and Iran. However, there was nothing in the related debates that clarified what the scope and implications of the obligation were. This stood in marked contrast to the provisions in the Convention dealing with punishment. The Legal Committee completed its review of the draft convention on December 2, 1948. The draft resolution and convention were adopted by thirty votes to none, with eight abstentions. The interventions by states provide some insights into their concerns at the Committee stage. The United Kingdom abstained, as it believed governments, not individuals, should be the focus of the Convention. Poland and Yugoslavia were critical of the Convention's failure to prohibit hate propaganda and measures aimed against a nation's art and culture. Czechoslovakia felt the Convention as adopted would do little to prevent genocide.

Article II of the Convention defines genocide as:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious mental or bodily harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measure intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Under the Convention, the crime of genocide has both a physical element (certain actions, such as killing members of a racial group) and a mental element (the acts must be committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group "as such"). Although earlier drafts had included "political groups," this wording was dropped during the final drafting stages. Also excluded was the concept of cultural genocide—destroying a group by forcible assimilation into a dominant culture. The drafting history makes clear that the Convention was intended to cover the physical destruction of a people and that some governments feared they could become vulnerable to a charge of genocide for certain actions.

When the Convention was adopted, two associated resolutions were passed. The first raised the issue of trying individuals charged with genocide before a competent international tribunal. It invited the International Law Commission to study the desirability of establishing an international criminal court. A second resolution concerned the application of the Convention to dependent territories.

The International Law Commission, a subsidiary body of the Assembly, is a body of experts responsible for the codification and progressive development of international law. The Commission has examined the issue of genocide on a number of occasions during the course of its work on draft codes and statutes. In 1954 it concluded that the definition of genocide set forth in the Convention should be modified, but later decided that the original text ought to be retained as this definition was widely accepted by the international community. Hence, the original definition of genocide in the Convention is essentially repeated in Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was agreed to in 1998, and in the relevant statues of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR).

Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camps in Lebanon

The Assembly formally addressed the issue of genocide for the first time in 1982, when it debated the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. Although the term had been mentioned in previous debates, on this occasion the Assembly qualified the massacre as genocide, while the Security Council, following the lead of the Secretary-General's report, condemned the "criminal massacre of Palestinian civilians in Beirut." Cuba proposed a resolution declaring the massacres to be an "act of genocide."

In the ensuing debate little attention was paid to the actual scope and meaning of genocide under international law. The Singapore delegation accused the Assembly of using "loose and casual language when referring to issues with a precise legal definition." Such sentiments were echoed by a number of other delegations. Finland probably best reflected the view of those states not supporting the use of the term genocide, in declaring that its use had prevented the Assembly from giving unanimous expression "to the universal outrage and condemnation" with regard to the massacre. In spite of the heated debate, the Assembly adopted Resolution 37/123(D) on December 16, 1982, paragraph 2 of which resolved that "the massacre was an act of genocide."

It is by no means clear under the 1948 Convention on Genocide that the Assembly, in fact, had the authority to make such a determination. However, it is inevitable that a body of this nature will be dominated by political rather than legal arguments, especially when considering the tragic fate of Palestinian civilians left behind in Beirut after the agreed upon departure of Palestinian fighters.

The Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

In December 1992 the General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/47/147 on the general situation in the former Yugoslavia and cited the Genocide Convention in its preamble. It also endorsed a resolution of the Commission on Human Rights adopted at that body's special session in August 1992, "in particular its call for all States to consider the extent to which the acts committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia constitute genocide." On December 20, 1993, the Assembly reaffirmed in Resolution A/RES/48/88 its determination to prevent acts of genocide and crimes against humanity and noted that the ICJ in its order of September 13, 1993, in the case Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), had called on the government of Yugoslavia to immediately take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of the crime of genocide. Another resolution, A/RES/47/121, described ethnic cleansing as "a form of genocide," but this finding was not consistent with later resolutions on ethnic cleansing that made no reference to genocide. Resolutions equating ethnic cleansing with genocide are problematic. Although there is no generally recognized text defining ethnic cleansing, there is a consensus among scholars and others that it is aimed at displacing a population, whereas genocide is intended to destroy it. Such descriptions ultimately do not serve the best interests of victims of either crime, or further the credibility of the Assembly.

Since 1992 the Assembly has referred to genocide on a number of occasions when adopting resolutions in relation to the crisis. In December 1995 the Assembly elaborated on the issue of genocide in Bosnia and declared that rape, in certain circumstances, could constitute an act of genocide (Resolution A/RES/50/192). The 1999 Report of the Secretary-General on the fall of Srebrenica (made pursuant to Assembly Resolution 53/35) was very critical of the Security Council's failure to take decisive action and referred to the attempted genocide in Bosnia.

Given the event's scale, it is surprising that just one of the Assembly's resolutions on the crisis in Rwanda referred to genocide. On December 23, 1994, Resolution 49/206 expressed deep concern at the reports issued by the Special Rapporteur and Commission of Experts indicating that genocide and crimes against humanity were committed, and condemned the acts of genocide that had taken place in Rwanda.

Apartheid and Forced Disappearances

The Assembly has also adopted resolutions dealing with various other crimes against humanity, including apartheid and forced disappearances. One of the best illustrations of the limitations of the Assembly and UN, as well as their potential, is the policy with regard to apartheid. On June 22, 1946, India requested that the treatment of Indians in the Union of South Africa be included in the agenda of the Assembly's first session. The General Committee did not support South Africa's request that the Indian matter be removed from the agenda on the grounds that it was essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of South Africa. Following a debate in the Assembly, Resolution 44(I) was adopted on December 8, 1946, which declared that the treatment of Indians in South Africa should conform with the international obligations under the agreements concluded between the two governments and the corresponding provisions of the UN Charter. A year later, in November 1947, the Assembly was unable to adopt any resolution on the Indian complaint for lack of a twothirds majority.

The Assembly did adopt numerous resolutions on the issue over the next five decades, but a turning point was Resolution 1761 of November 6, 1962. The resolution, sponsored by a number of African states, urged member states to impose economic and other sanctions against South Africa and established a Special Committee (which later became the Committee on Apartheid) to monitor the situation. The debates increasingly focused on demands that the situation in South Africa be recognized as a threat to international peace and security and that universal sanctions be imposed against South Africa. During the cold war Western nations believed that the Security Council alone should make the determination that a denial of human rights posed a threat to international peace. In this context there was bound to be natural antagonism between the Assembly and the Council.

On November 30, 1973, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It declared, among other things, that apartheid is a crime against humanity. Furthermore, apartheid was found to include the "[d]eliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part." It is noteworthy that the South African government was excluded from the Assembly in 1974 when its delegation's credentials were rejected. At the same time UN bodies granted the liberation movements of South Africa Observer status and the Assembly recognized them in 1975 as the authentic representatives of the overwhelming majority of people in that country.

On December 18, 2002, the Assembly adopted by consensus two resolutions related to disappearances and missing persons. Resolution A/RES/57/215 on enforced or involuntary disappearances expressed concern at the growing number of enforced disappearances in various regions of the world. It affirmed that any act of enforced disappearance is an offense to human dignity and a flagrant violation of human rights. It urged governments to take steps to prevent and suppress the practice. It encouraged all states to abide by the principles outlined in the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the Assembly on December 18, 1992 (Resolution A/RES/47/133).

Resolution A/RES/57/207 on missing persons noted the issue of persons reported missing in connection with international conflicts and urged states to respect international humanitarian law. In both cases the Assembly used language such as "urges," "requests," "calls upon," or "appeals" to exhort members to comply, reflecting the fact that an Assembly resolution or declaration alone cannot impose legal obligations on states.


There have been many instances in which the Assembly has acted within its area of competence when addressing issues of international peace. If a conflict is characterized by questions of fundamental human rights, then it is arguable that the Assembly should assume the primary role in protecting those rights. When the grave risk of genocide or some other serious violation of human rights exists, then it is best that the consideration of any military intervention be first brought before the Security Council. However, if the Security Council rejects a proposal for intervention when significant humanitarian or human rights issues are at stake, or the Council fails to decide on such a proposal within a reasonable period of time, then responsibility falls to the Assembly to take appropriate action. Although the Assembly lacks the authority to take direct action, a decision in favor of action, if supported by a large majority of states, would largely legitimize any subsequent intervention.

The ability to achieve the overall two-thirds majority within the Assembly to invoke the Uniting for Peace process is very unlikely when political realities are taken into account. Political realities play an even larger role when the Security Council fails to act because of the threat of veto. As a result, vital time can be lost before decisive action is taken to remedy a situation on the ground. In the case of genocide and crimes against humanity, such action will often be too late for victims.

When a resolution targets a specific violation or country, it is difficult to evaluate its effectiveness over time. It seems that formal resolutions may send important signals, but these too are almost impossible to measure. Political matters still tend to dominate debates, but these should not overshadow the accomplishments in the promotion of human rights across the full spectrum of UN activities.

SEE ALSO Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide; United Nations; United Nations Commission on Human Rights; United Nations Security Council; United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights; United Nations War Crimes Commission


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Ray Murphy

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United Nations General Assembly