United Nations' General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations opened its 61st session on Sept. 12 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. President Bush's three-day trip there this week will include bilateral meetings with six foreign leaders, including the presidents of Iraq and the Palestinian Authority, and a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that will focus on his vision for the Middle East.

What is the United Nations' mission?

For more than 60 years the United Nations has struggled as an international governing body trying to forge peace and end poverty around the world.

What does the General Assembly do?

The General Assembly, set up in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 192 members of the United Nations, it provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. For more information about the General Assembly's functions and powers, click here.

Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority.

Who is the current president of the General Assembly?

The presidency changes every session. H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa was elected President of the 61st session of the General Assembly on June 8, 2006. At the time, she was serving as Legal Adviser to the Royal Court in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Click here to read her acceptance speech and for more information about the president.

How often does the General Assembly meet?

The Assembly meets in regular session each year from September to December, and thereafter as required.
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The Assembly may meet in special sessions at the request of the Security Council, of a majority of member states, or of one member if the majority of members concur.

For an interactive map of the United Nations' peacekeeping missions, as well as a timeline of its history, click here.

What is the agenda of the 61st session?

Following the opening, the General Assembly held a High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development on Sept. 14-15. This will be followed, on Sept. 18 and 19, by a High-level Meeting on the Least Developed Countries, which is a midterm review of implementation of the Programme of Action for the Decade 2001-2010.

Among the key issues the Assembly will address at the session are:

  • Reform of the Security Council and the United Nations Secretariat, including the management reforms;
  • The work of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council;
  • An international convention on terrorism.
  • To learn more about the United Nations:

    • Webcasts of the United Nations' meetings are accessible here.

    • An overview of the United Nations.

    • More background on the United Nations.