The Political Role of the General Assembly

The Political Role of the General Assembly

The Political Role of the General Assembly

The Political Role of the General Assembly


On 3 November 1950, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted what The New York Times described as:

a history-making resolution under which members of the United Nations could be requested by the Assembly to provide armed forces against aggression if the veto prevented the Security Council from taking action. . . . Nasrollah Entezam, President of the Assembly, said after announcing the vote that it was the most important resolution adopted by any Assembly.

Thus the public's attention was drawn dramatically to the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, the latest manifestation of an important change that has been taking place within the United Nations during the last five years. In response to various political forces the General Assembly has assumed ever-increasing authority with respect to so-called "political" issues, as compared with the Security Council, which was originally expected to be the dominant organ in the political field.

The intense heat that has been generated by this development is indicated by two conflicting utterances made at the end of the debate which produced the resolution cited above. John Foster Dulles of the United States delegation declared:

We must organize degendably the collective will to resist aggression. If the Security Council does not do so, then this Assembly must do what it can by invoking its residual power of recommendation.

Andrei Vyshinsky of the Soviet Union replied:

If there is no agreement between the great Powers on fundamental matters affecting the organization of international relations, then whether the General Assembly decides these questions . . .

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