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uni'wissen 1-2013_ENG

In a word: A lot of participation – whether with regard to political issues, negotiations concern­ ing details in the wording of resolutions, or coor­ dination – requires a lot of resources. And that costs money: “The tension between formal equality and real inequality within the General Assembly is immense,” says Panke. “That sur­ prised even me.” The only thing left for small states and microstates to do is to determine whether there is any way to compensate for their deficiencies. Panke pursued this question as well and came to the conclusion that by no means do small states have their hands tied; in fact, they can even act more quickly and flexibly than larger countries. Panke explains why: “In large countries every decision, every possible all member states have equal representation in the General Assembly. It controls the budget and administration and can discuss all issues addressed by the United Nations Charter and make recommen- dations to states in the form of resolutions. Unlike those made by the Security Council, these resolutions are not binding, but under certain conditions they can contribute to the establishment of binding international customary law. Illustration: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,, License: Creative Commons cc by-nc-nd/3.0/de broad front, and they can also engage in intensive networking. A single delegate cannot do this. Another reason the participation of small coun­ tries lags behind that of large countries is be­ cause their budgets are too small to allow them to increase their activities. “Countries like Great Britain or France have budgets at their disposal that are thousands of times higher than those of microstates like Kiribati,” says Panke. However, staff and money are not everything. Another fac­ tor that leads to a higher level of participation among large nations is that their foreign minis­ tries take care of the groundwork for their diplo­ mats at the United Nations and call in experts to advise them if necessary. After all, remarks Panke, a diplomat can’t be an expert on everything. The United Nations is an international organization with a current membership of 193 member states whose main goals are to work toward world peace, improve international law, protect human rights, and promote international cooperation. It consists of six principle organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. In contrast to the Security Council, which includes the five permanent members China, Russia, France, Great Britain, and the USA as well as ten non-permanent members, 26 The United Nations General Assembly Composition, responsibilities, and examples of duties Resolutions and decisions 1st Committee 4th Committee 2nd Committee 5th Committee 3rd Committee 6th Committee Forum for political discussion, shaping of international customary law sessions each year starting in September member states, one vote each send delegates Disarmament and International Security Special Political and Decolonization Economics and Financial Administrative and Budgetary Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian Legal Function and Duties General Assembly Governments Review and approval of budget Link to subsidiary organs, programs, and funds Elections Economic and Social Council non-binding Appointment of secretary-general on Security Council recommendation others judges for International Court of Justice members of Economic and Social Council non-permanent members of Security Council License: Creative Commons by-nc-nd/3.0/de English Translation: Dr. David Heyde Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2010,