Elections on the Assembly’s agenda

Each year, the General Assembly carries out elections for a number of individual posts and for bodies within the UN system. As elections are a perennial occurrence for the Assembly, many are even assigned the same item number in each year’s annual agenda. They may even occur around the same time each year, though there is no definite relationship between the Assembly’s agenda and its calendar.

UN staff prepare to collect votes in ballot boxes at the United Nations General Assembly in October 2010. (Photo: Timothy Clary, AFP/Getty)

Roughly a third of the elections for this current session have been scheduled and one has taken place. The Credentials Committee, which confirms the credentials of the members states’ permanent representatives, was elected by the Assembly when it convened on 13 September.

The next elections will take place in mid-October, when the Assembly elects five of the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council. (A detailed report on these is available from the Security Council Report, and a quick review will be published here tomorrow.)

To clarify and expand on the point above, the order of elections in the agenda do not correspond to when they are scheduled to occur. The first election was that of the Credential Committee, mentioned above, which is numbered #3(a) in the agenda. The election of the Assembly’s President, Vice Presidents and Main Committee chairs following as items #4-6. But not only do those elections not occur in this session’s opening days, they are in fact not even referring to this session’s top officers. As the footnote to the agenda explains,

“In accordance with rule 30 of the rules of procedure, the General Assembly will hold these elections for its sixty-seventh session at least three months before the opening of that session.”

Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, the current President of the General Assembly, was elected to his post under item #4 of last year’s agenda. This current item #4 refers to the election of the President of the 67th session – who will be from Eastern Europe, by the way – sometime next June. So despite being listed in the single digits of this session’s agenda, what this item actually refers to will be one of the last items of business that the 66th Assembly takes up.

The remaining elections that have been scheduled will occur from the last week in October through mid-November. They include:

  • election of eighteen members of the Economic and Social Council, on 24 October
  • election of five judges to the International Court of Justice, on 10 November, and
  • election of members to the Committee on Programme and Coordination, to the International Law Commission and to UNEP’s governing council, on 16 November.

Several other elections will be scheduled in the interim, including two members to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, as the terms of office for those elected commence on 1 January 2012. The remaining elections will take place either prior to the Assembly’s recess on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 or some point in 2012 as determined by other agreements among members states.

Subscribe to Global Memo to stay informed on these and elections in other multilaterals as they are scheduled and take place.

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About Tony Fleming

Tony is a communications and advocacy professional with over 15 years experience in United Nations reform advocacy. He began blogging about multilateral elections in 2006 at UNSG.org. He and his wife currently live in Panajachel, Guatemala. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.