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UNITED NATIONS, September 17 (Itar-Tass) - The 68th session of the UN General Assembly is opening at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. The official opening ceremony will take place at 15:00, local time (23:00 MSK) when the beginning of the annual work cycle will be announced by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, who was in June elected President of the General Assembly’s 68th session.
The agenda of the opening session includes 170 topics, including the issues of peace and security, conflict prevention, the protection of the environment, promotion of countries’ sustainable development, the observance of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, protection of human rights and ensuring the rule of law. The consideration of matters relating to the reform of the UN Security Council, as well as the organization’s revitalization will be continued.
Traditionally, the general political debate will be held within the GA session with the participation of the heads of state and government, as well foreign ministers in the period from 24 September to 1 October. Russia’s delegation at the session will be headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will speak, according to a preliminary schedule, on September 27.
Close attention will be focused on the first appearance at the UN headquarters of Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani, which is scheduled for the first day of the general debate. In addition, certain expectations are associated with the speech of Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad, who is to address the General Assembly on September 30.
During the week, which is the main stage in the work of the session, about 10 high-level meetings will be held, which will be followed by a series of meetings on the sidelines of the UN GA. In particular, the UN Security Council is planned to hold a high-level meeting on the problem of the spread of small arms and light weapons. The Middle East peace process and the conflict in Syria are also expected to be discussed.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the UN. Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are by simple majority. Each country has one vote. Some Member States in arrear of payment may be granted the right to vote. The GA has established a number of Councils, Working Groups, Boards, etc. for the performance of its functions. The Assembly has adopted its own rules of procedure and elects its President for each session.
In 1946, a year after the foundation of the United Nations, the GA comprised 51 members, and at present - 193. The latest country to join the UN is Southern Sudan (in 2011). With the expansion of the organization the agenda of the Assembly has also been considerably changed: at the end of the 1940s it had been devoted mainly to problems of decolonization. Now, the scope of issues discussed by the UN GA includes the problems of social and economic development, conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction, the fight against terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking and HIV/AIDS, protection of women and children, promotion of fundamental principles of democracy.