How the United Nations Works


The General Assembly hall
The General Assembly hall
UN/DPI Photo

The U.N. Charter sets up an organization that includes six "organs." Two of these -- the General Assembly and the Security Council -- are in the news quite a bit. The others are less visible.

The General Assembly

In the General Assembly, every member nation gets one vote.

Any "important question" for the general assembly requires a two-thirds majority for approval. According to the U.S. State Department, important questions include:

  • recommendations on peace and security
  • election of members to organs
  • admission, suspension, and expulsion of members
  • budgetary matters

All other matters are decided with a simple majority.

Many of the proceedings of the General Assembly are embodied in resolutions.

(Click here for the U.N. Charter's description of the General Assembly.)

In the next section we'll learn about the U.N. Security Council.