President of the General Assembly

The General Assembly is one of the UN’s six principal organs, and the “chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations,” according to the Charter. It comprises all 192 member states and serves as a forum for intergovernmental discussion and negotiation on all of the international issues covered by the Charter.

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Its official four-month agenda is presided over by the President of the GA, who also oversees any remaining issues to be dealt with in the remainder of the session. The powers of the President are set out in the Rules of Procedure of the GA (Rules 35-37). 

Background

The President does not vote on GA decisions but has control over all other aspects of the discussions including time limitations for speakers, closure of the list of speakers, suspension and adjournment of debate, and ruling on points of order. In addition to these formal duties, the President also has an informal facilitative role to play by consulting bilaterally with delegations to assess differences in position, propose solutions, and build consensus for proposals.

Selection Process
The selection of the President of the GA follows an unwritten system of regional rotation. Each year one of the regional groups nominates an individual, who is then elected by the entire GA membership. The pattern of regional rotation since 1963 has been:

  • Latin American and Caribbean States
  • African States
  • Western European and Other States
  • Asian States
  • Eastern Europe

Traditionally, a single nominee is selected by the regional grouping and submitted unopposed to the GA for election, thus precluding a competitive electoral process. (The most recent exception occurred in 1991, when the Asian Group nominated three candidates.)

The election is governed by the GA’s Rules of Procedure (Rule 30, as amended by Assembly Resolution 56/509 of July 8, 2002 and Resolution 58/126 of December 19, 2003). It is an election by a simple majority of Member States and takes place approximately three months ahead of the start of the next Session over which the candidate will preside.

This timing, which allows for informal overlap between the outgoing and incoming Presidents, is a relatively recent development (following GA Resolutions of 2002 and 2003) to contribute to the ongoing efforts to “revitalize” the work of the Assembly.

The term of office is one year, beginning at the opening of the Session and running until the end of the Session.

No formal criteria for the President exist in the Charter or the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.

As a matter of practice (but not formal rule), the President may not be a national of any of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council.

Compensation for the President of the General Assembly is determined by the home Member State, which pays the President a salary. This salary is in addition to the privileges granted to all persons acting in the service of the UN or its Member States. [1]

Recent Developments

The President of the upcoming 69th session will be Mr. Sam Kutesa of Uganda. Kutesa was nominated by the African group, whose turn it was to field candidates for the presidency. 

Coming Up

 In line with the existing regional rotation scheme, the President of the General Assembly for the 70th session will be nominated by the Western European and Other states Group.  

The regional nominations for the next five years are as follows:

  • 70th GA - Western European and Other states (2015-2016)
  • 71st GA - Asian states (2016-2017)
  • 72nd GA - Eastern European states (2017-2018)
  • 73rd GA - Latin American and Caribbean States (2018-2019)
  • 74th GA - African states (2019-2020)
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[1] "The Convention of the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations," A/Res/22A (1), 13 February 1946.


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