Lecture Notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Assembly and Security Council

The Security Council is the "police officer" of the United Nations.

Let’s review what we already know about these two organs of the United Nations:

General Assembly (GA)

Security Council (SC)

The General Assembly is the main organ of the UN.

Each member has one vote that is equal to the vote of each of the other members.

It’s the closes thing we have to a world parliament.

The Security Council is the “police officer” of the UN.

The SC consists of 15 members:

  • 5 permanent members (P5)
  • 10 rotating members elected by the GA for two-year terms.

 

The job of these two organs is to pass resolutions. A resolution is the UN equivalent of a law. Resolutions passed by the Security Council are “binding.” That means they are legal agreements and “hard” international laws. Resolutions passed by the Generally Assembly are “non-binding.” That means that no one is legally obliged to follow these resolutions. In fact, they are more like recommendations than actual laws. However, GA resolutions do carry the weight of world opinion, and thus many people do refer to them as “soft” international laws. 

Think back to your initiation ceremony. By signing the Charter, you were, in effect, saying this:

Fundamentally, the GA is a little more than a world forum that is used by nations to express their views on world issues. In contrast, the Security Council has real power:

Once again, think back to your initiation ceremony. Among the many promises you made were these: 

 

Check Your Understanding

  1. True or False: Security Council resolutions are basically laws which every member of the United Nations is legally obliged to obey. 
  2. True or False: General Assembly resolutions are basically laws which every member of the United Nations is legally obliged to obey.
  3. What is a “binding” resolution?
  4. What is a “non-binding” resolution?
  5. Security Council resolutions are __(binding / non-binding)__.
  6. General assembly resolutions are __(binding / non-binding)__.
  7. Which UN organ issues resolutions that are basically “recommendations” or “statements that express the opinion of most of the members of the UN club?
  8. Which UN organ issues resolutions that are equivalent to the commands of a police officer?