Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter


Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter

Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter contains the Charter's provisions dealing with the UN General Assembly, specifically its composition, functions, powers, voting, and procedures.

Contents

Primacy of the General Assembly

The chapter on the UN General Assembly appears in the Charter before the chapters on the other five principal organs (UN Security Council, UN Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice, and UN Secretariat). This reflects the UN's founders' view of the General Assembly as the "first" branch of the UN, in much the same way that the placement of the provisions related to the US Congress in Article I of the United States Constitution before those dealing with the US President and US Supreme Court reflects the Philadelphia Convention's view of Congress as the "first branch" of the US government[1]. Both the US Congress and the UN General Assembly hold the "power of the purse" in regard to their respective organizations. No doubt, the General Assembly also appears first because most decisions (except those dealing with security matters) mentioned later in the Charter require General Assembly assent, and the General Assembly appoints:

  • 10 of the 15 members of the Security Council;
  • All of the members of ECOSOC;
  • As many as half the members of the Trusteeship Council;
  • All of the judges of the International Court of Justice (with Security Council assent); and
  • The Secretary-General (upon the Security Council's nomination).

Article 9 guarantees each member country a seat in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal membership.

Articles 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16

Article 10 gives the General Assembly (UNGA) power to "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 to make recommendations on those subjects. This, along with the Article 15 provision requiring the Security Council (UNSC) and other organs to issue reports of their activities to the General Assembly, essentially puts the General Assembly in the role of overseer over the other UN bodies (there is no reciprocal provision by which the Security Council or other bodies make recommendations as to the powers and functions of the General Assembly). Article 11 tasks the UNGA with considering "principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments" and making recommendations on the same to the UNSC, which under Chapter V has the responsibility of making more detailed plans in reference to disarmament. The UNGA is prohibited by Article 12 from making recommendations on matters currently being dealt with by the UNSC, unless requested to do so by the Council. However, this has not always prevented the General Assembly from attempting to deal with threats to international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC was deadlocked, by using the framework of the Uniting for Peace resolution (A/RES/377 A).

Article 13 tasks the General Assembly with initiating studies and making recommendations for "promoting international co-operation in the political field and encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification." This provides a clue as to the founders' hopes that the UN as formulated by the original Charter would be a first step toward a much more comprehensive framework of international law, whose development would be coordinated by the General Assembly. Article 16 grants the UNGA limited power over the trusteeship system.

Article 17

Article 17 provides that "The General Assembly shall consider and approve the budget of the Organization." The interpretation of section 2 is controversial. It reads:

2. The expenses of the Organization shall be borne by the Members as apportioned by the General Assembly.

When the United States fell behind in paying its dues to the UN, some members held that the US was breaking its treaty obligations to bear the expenses of the Organization. In 1995, Malaysia said that any unilateral decision to reduce UN assessments is "illegal and totally unacceptable" and Australia said it "would not accept" a situation whereby "the largest contributor, by it failure to comply with the Charter, would destabilize the operation of the UN"[2]. Another interpretation, advanced by the Cato Institute, is that "the intent is to make certain that the world body is financed by countries, not special interests outside the organization"[3].

Article 18

Article 18 gives each state one vote in the UN General Assembly. The interpretation of Sections 2 and 3 are controversial. They read:

2. Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include: recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, the election of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, the election of the members of the Economic and Social Council, the election of members of the Trusteeship Council in accordance with paragraph 1 (c) of Article 86, the admission of new Members to the United Nations, the suspension of the rights and privileges of membership, the expulsion of Members, questions relating to the operation of the trusteeship system, and budgetary questions.
3. Decisions on other questions, including the determination of additional categories of questions to be decided by a two-thirds majority, shall be made by a majority of the members present and voting.

The question of what constitutes an "important question" arose during the discussion of General Assembly Resolution 2758, which expelled the Taiwanese delegation from the UN and replaced it with the People's Republic of China. The General Assembly had declared, by a vote of 59 to 55 with 15 abstentions, this to be an unimportant question that did not require the consent of two-thirds of the members. The delegates of the Republic of China protested that this decision was illegal, and subsequently left the assembly hall.

Article 18 was designed to provide a more workable system than that established by Article 5 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provided for a consensus-based system in which "decisions at any meeting of the Assembly or of the Council shall require the agreement of all the Members of the League represented at the meeting."

Article 19

Article 19 provides that any country that falls two years behind in its dues will lose its vote in the General Assembly. The United States, when it was withholding dues in protest over the slow pace of UN reform, has historically paid just enough at the end of each year to avoid losing its vote under this provision.

Article 22

Article 22 allows the UN to establish subsidiary bodies. This has been the basis for proposals to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly without formal amendment of the UN Charter.

External links

References

  1. ^ Structure and Powers of Congress, D. R. Tarr, & A. O'Connor, Congress A to Z, CQ Encyclopedia of American Government, 2003.
  2. ^ Chronology of the UN Financial Situation: 1995, Global Policy Forum
  3. ^ The United Nations Debt: Who Owes Whom?, Cliff Kincaid, Cato Policy Analysis No. 304, Cato Institute, April 23, 1998.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter — sets out the UN Security Council s powers to maintain peace. It allows the Council to determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and to take military and nonmilitary action to restore… …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter I of the United Nations Charter — lays out the purposes and principles of the United Nations organization. These principles include the equality and self determination of nations and the obligation of member countries to obey the Charter, to cooperate with the UN Security Council …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter — deals with peaceful settlement of disputes. It requires countries with disputes that could lead to war to first of all try to seek solutions through peaceful methods such as negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial… …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter II of the United Nations Charter — deals with membership of the United Nations organization. Membership is open to the original signatories and all other peace loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter III of the United Nations Charter — summarizes the principal organs of the United Nations. They are listed in the same order as the chapters detailing their composition, functions, and powers appear in the Charter. The placement of the General Assembly first in the list probably is …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter IX of the United Nations Charter — deals with international economic and social cooperation. Article 55 reflects the philosophy of the UN that efforts should be made to impact the root causes of war: With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well being which are… …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter XVI of the United Nations Charter — contains miscellaneous provisions prohibiting secret treaties, establishing the UN Charter as supreme over any other treaties, and providing for privileges and immunities of UN officials and representatives. Contents 1 Article 102 2 Article 103 3 …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter V of the United Nations Charter — contains provisions establishing the United Nations Security Council. Article 23 establishes the composition of the Security Council, with five permanent members (the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter — deals with regional arrangements. It authorizes regional organizations (such as NATO) and even requires attempts to resolve disputes through such agencies (if available) prior to intervention by the UN Security Council. However, Article 53… …   Wikipedia

  • Chapter XV of the United Nations Charter — deals with the UN Secretariat. It designates the UN Secretary General as the chief administrative officer of the organization, which includes the staff of ECOSOC, the Trusteeship Council, and other organs. Similarly to how the US Constitution… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.