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The amending or constituent function of the General Assembly gives that body power by a two-thirds vote to recommend the adoption of amendments to the Charter itself and to initiate the calling of a general conference for revision of the Charter. Amendments would, however, require ratification by two-thirds of the Members of the United Nations including all the permanent members of the Security Council in order to become effective (Articles 108, 109).
The General Assembly will also have a special sanctioning power with respect to Members which fail to carry out their obligations under the Charter. The Assembly is empowered, upon the recommendation of the Security Council, to suspend from the exercise of rights and privileges of membership any Member against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken, and to expel from the Organization any Member which has gravely or persistently violated the principles of the Organization (Articles 5, 6). It is not necessary, however, for the General Assembly to participate in the decision to restore the rights and privileges of a suspended Member. The last point was made, not to detract from the powers of the General Assembly, but rather as a means of facilitating the operation of security measures and to speed the return to full participation in the Organization of a Member which alters its behavior for the better as a consequence of enforcement measures taken against it.
For assistance in the discharge of any of its functions, the General Assembly may ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on any legal question (Article 96).
PEACEFUL ADJUSTMENT OF SITUATIONS LIKELY TO IMPAIR THE GENERAL
WELFARE The part which the General Assembly plays in the peaceful adjustment of situations likely to impair the general welfare can not be completely understood except in connection with its relationship to the Security Council, but the main lines of its activities in this field may be sketched first.
The General Assembly, in being empowered by Article 14 to recommend measures “for the peaceful settlement of any situations, regardless of origin, which it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations,” possesses an additional grant of authority which gives the widest possible latitude to its initiative and statesmanship. The provision resulted from an amendment proposed by the Sponsoring Powers which was approved by the Conference.
Several amendments were submitted to the Conference to provide explicitly that the General Assembly should have the right to recommend the revision of treaties. The able debate on these amendments revolved around the meaning of the phrase "any situations, regardless of origin," as used in Article 14. The United States Delegation took the position that explicit reference to the revision of treaties would throw the weight of the Organization too heavily on the side of revision and encourage change beyond the needs of situations requiring it. It was argued that it is not possible to launch an international organization based on international integrity and at the same time intimate any lack of respect for treaties, which are the principal instruments through which international integrity functions. Indeed, a consideration of the general welfare and friendly relations might call for a recommendation that a treaty should be respected
by its signatories rather than that it should be revised. The thousands of treaties in operation as the bond of orderly relations among the nations of the world, should not be weakened by raising doubts about their value or permanence.
On the other hand, if situations exist under treaties which are alleged to impair the general welfare or to threaten friendly relations between nations, or to conflict with the purposes and the principles of the Charter, such situations shall be open to discussion or recommendation by the General Assembly.
It was the view of the United States Delegation, therefore, that the General Assembly should not interest itself in a treaty per se, but rather in the conditions and relations among nations which may impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations. These threats to the general welfare may arise from treaties or from situations having no relation to treaties. In any case, as soon as situations emerge as a threat to the general welfare, they should become a matter of concern to the General Assembly. Thus the broad powers entrusted to the General Assembly will enable it to render effective aid in the difficult process of "peaceful change”.
Representatives of many other delegations participated in the debate and there was a wide measure of agreement that the Charter should not contain a specific reference to a power to recommend the revision of treaties. Accordingly, the amendments providing for such a power were not approved.
Another and more specialized function of the General Assembly will enable it to make long range contributions to the peaceful settlement of disputes. Under Article 13 it is given the duty of initiating studies and making recommendations for the encouragement of the progressive development and codification of international law. This clause was inserted in the Charter in response to a general demand that the rule of law among nations should be strengthened. As that law is strengthened, the role of another organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, which is also designed to aid in the cause of pacific settlement, will increase in effectiveness.
REPRESENTATION AND VOTING
The provisions of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals that the General Assembly is to consist of representatives of all Members and that each is entitled to one vote, are incorporated in the Charter. Following the suggestion in the Proposals that a maximum number of delegates for each country be stated in the basic instrument, the figure has been set at five. This was considered adequate to provide for representation of all the Members on the principal committees of the General Assembly (Articles 9, 18).
The provision in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals for a two-thirds majority in voting on "important questions” (which are listed in the text) and a simple majority for all other questions, was written into the Charter (Article 18). "It is significant that no one seriously considered perpetuating the unanimity rule which operated in the League of Nations and in many other international bodies.
The Conference made only one change of substance in the portions of the Dumbarton Oaks text relating to the structure and proceedings of the General Assembly itself. This was to add a provision depriving a Member of the right to vote if it is two years or more in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions. This amendment, which was submitted in various forms by five different Delegations, was adopted with the overwhelming support of the representatives of nations large and small. In order to prevent undue hardship, it has been provided that the General Assembly should have the power to waive the penalty if the nonpayment of contributions is due to causes beyond the control of the Member in question (Article 19).
THE RELATION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO THE OTHER PRINCIPAL ORGANS
Perhaps the basic difference between the constitutional arrangement of the United Nations and that of the League of Nations, is that instead of the Assembly and the Council having identical functions, as was the case under the League, the General Assembly and the Security Council will each have different functions assigned to it. The General Assembly is primarily a body for deliberation and recommendation, while the Security Council is given powers to act in the maintenance of international peace and security whenever it deems necessary (Article 11).
A certain interaction is provided in the relations between the General Assembly and the Security Council. For example, the former may make recommendations to the Security Council in any matters affecting the maintenance of peace and security, provided these matters are not actively being dealt with at the time by the Security Council, but in the latter case the Security Council may ask the assistance of the General Assembly in carrying out its functions (Article 12).
The relations between the General Assembly on the one hand and the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council on the other are of a different order. Both of these Councils are subordinate to the General Assembly and act under its authority. These Councils will, however, initiate policies and recommendations for the consideration of the Assembly and will have certain administrative functions to carry out on behalf of the Assembly.
The Assembly will be empowered to receive" and "consider” reports from all three Councils and from other organs. In the case of the Security Council, it is provided that there shall be "annual and special reports" which “shall include an account of the measures that the Security Council has decided upon or taken to maintain international peace and security" (Article 15). This provision caused considerable debate during the course of the Conference and at one stage the Technical Committee in charge had approved a version of the clause which would have conferred upon the General Assembly the right to approve or disapprove the reports of the Security Council, to make observations or recommendations thereon, and to submit recommendations to the Security Council with a view to ensuring complete observance of the duties of the Security Council inherent in its responsibility to maintain international peace and security. This version was objected to on the ground that it would alter the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly by making the Security Council a subordinate body. Consequently the Committee agreed upon the language now incorporated in Article 15 with the understanding that the word "consider” as used therein shall be interpreted as en
compassing the right to discuss, and that the power of the General Assembly to discuss and make recommendations as defined elsewhere in Chapter IV, is not to be limited in any way with respect to its consideration of reports from the Security Council.
The budgetary and electoral functions of the General Assembly in relation to each of the Councils emphasizes also the central position of the General Assembly in relation to the other bodies of the Organization. Relationship of the General Assembly to the Security Council
Some of the amendments submitted to the Conference would have modified essentially the distribution of powers outlined in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. In several amendments the General Assembly would have been designated aas the primary organ of the Organization, while others were designed to give the General Assembly an equal share with the Security Council in the maintenance of peace and security. In still others the Security Council would have been limited by the constant supervision of the General Assembly in the consideration of methods and measures to maintain peace and security. The substance of these amendments was opposed by the Conference. However, various adjustments were made to perfect the correlation of the General Assembly and the Security Council in matters pertaining to the maintenance of peace and security.
The General Assembly, in addition to its right of free discussion at all times, was granted the authority to address to the governments or to the Security Council, or both, its recommendations on principles and questions pertaining to the maintenance of peace and security. The channelling of recommendations to the governments, as well as to the Security Council, may strengthen the process of recommendation and help to check disputes between nations before they reach an acute stage.
The United Nations Charter follows the provisions of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals by providing that the General Assembly must, either before or after discussion, refer to the Security Council questions on which action is necessary. The General Assembly is also empowered to call the attention of the Security Council to situations which are likely to endanger peace or security. Until the moment when the question is taken under consideration by the Security Council, the General Assembly may make recommendations, but from that moment until the Security Council ceases to deal with the matter, the General Assembly must not make recommendations with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.
In order to avoid a situation in which a dispute might be kept on the agenda of the Security Council without being actively considered, a provision was added to the Charter requiring the Secretary-General, with the consent of the Security Council, to notify the Assembly as soon as the Security Council has ceased to deal with such matters.
A clause was also written into Article 12, Paragraph 2, of the Charter providing that the Secretary-General, with the consent of the Security Council, must notify the General Assembly at each session of any matters relative to the maintenance of international peace or security which are being dealt with by the Security Council. These provisions were supported as a means of ensuring that the General
Assembly would be kept informed if the Security Council failed to settle a dispute or wished to request a recommendation from the General Assembly. They were also supported on the ground that since all members of the Organization are responsible for assisting in enforcement measures, they are entitled to full information about action that is contemplated or has been taken.
The role of the General Assembly in the maintenance of peace and security can be summarized as follows:
1. The right to consider the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, including the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments;
2. The right to make recommendations to the Members or to the Security Council on such principles;
3. The right to discuss any questions pertaining to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any Member of the Organization, by the Security Council or, in certain cases, by a non-member;
4. The right to make recommendations to the Members or to the Security Council with regard to any such questions;
5. The responsibility to refer questions on which action is necessary to the Security Council either before or after discussion or reco.nmendation;
6. The right to call the attention of the Security Council to situations likely to endanger international peace and security;
7. The obligation not to engage in making recommendations while the Security Council is dealing with a dispute unless the Security Council so requests;
8. The right, subject to the judgment of the Security Council, to be notified of any matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security which are being dealt with by the Security Council and to receive notification when the Security Council ceases to deal with such matters;
9. The responsibility to cooperate with the Security Council, upon its request, in steps to preserve or restore peace. Such measures would include the suspension of members against which enforcement action is being taken, the expulsion of members which persistently violate the principles contained in the Charter, and the enlistment of full support for either non-military or military enforcement measureş;
10. The right to receive and consider annual and special reports from the Security Council.
These functions of the General Assembly and the relationships between it and the Security Council provide for a maximum utilization of the special qualifications of the General Assembly for effective deliberation and recommendation. Relationship of the General Assembly to the Economic and Social
Council The responsibility of the General Assembly for the development of more widespread and more effective cooperation among the nations in subjects of mutual interest was stated in Chapter V of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. At San Francisco the list of subjects was lengthened to add to the economic and social (as well as the political) fields mentioned in the Proposals, the cultural, educational and health