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Under the UN Charter, authority to consider international problems is vested in both the Security Council and the General Assembly which in turn have created a wide range of subordinate bodies to carry out many of their responsibilities.
The UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and assigns a special role to the five permanent members --China, France, U.S.S.R., United Kingdom, and United States. Decisions on substantive matters require the concurring votes of the permanent members. The Charter requires the Security Council to be so organized as to be able to function continuously and empowers it to take various types of action with respect both to the pacific settlement of disputes and to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression. Among the more important bodies established by the Security Coucil in carrying out its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security are the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the Rhodesian Sanctions Committee, and the two peacekeeping forces established to monitor the cease-fires following the 1973 war in the Middle East--the UN Emergency Force (UNEF), which operates between Egypt and Israel, and the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which operates between Israel and Syria.
No one issue dominated Security Council deliberations in 1975, although several near-perennial topics were again considered. Of 57 meetings (compared to 52 in 1974), 11 were devoted to the situation in Cyprus and 10 to the Middle East. Several of these meetings were concerned primarily with extending the mandates of UNFICYP, UNEF, and UNDOF. Slightly less than a third of the meetings (discussed in Part III of this report) were related to problems of colonialism and decolonization in Namibia, Spanish Sahara, and Portuguese Timor. During 1975, 16 meetings -- far more than usual in recent years--were concerned with applications for UN membership. Six states-Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Comoros, and Surinam--were subsequently recommended for membership while three others -- the Republic of Korea and the two Viet-Nams --were not.
Aspects of all these questions were also considered by the General Assembly, which may consider any matter within the scope of the Charter, although it may not make recommendations on disputes or situations under active consideration in the Security Council unless the Council asks it to. Acting on the Council's recommendation, the Assembly voted to admit six new members to the organization, more than in any one year since 1962.
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The Assembly meets at least annually--in the fall-and has frequently held special sessions, emergency special sessions, or resumed sessions at other times in the year. In 1975 the Assembly held its seventh special session, on development and international economic cooperation, September 1-16 (see Part II), and its 30th regular session, September 16-December 17. Most of the Assembly's regular sessional work is carried out, in the first instance, through seven main committees of the whole, established on a subject-matter basis. The Assembly has also established numerous subsidiary bodies whose meetings extend beyond regular Assembly sessions. Among the more important of these concerned with political questions are the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Conference of the Committee on Disarmament, which meets each year in Geneva, is not formally a part of the UN system, but it reports each year to the General Assembly and conducts much of its work in response to General Assembly requests. Its report, in turn, forms the basis for many of the recommendations made by the United Nations on disarmament matters.
One measure of world concern with the problems of disarmament and arms control can be seen in the amount of attention accorded them in the United Nations. In 1975 over half the time of the 30th General Assembly's First Committee (Political and Security) was devoted to 19 agenda items on aspects of disarmament. Twenty-five resolutions were adopted on such specific aspects of the problem as control of chemical, incendiary, and mass de struction weapons; reduction of military budgets; establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in various parts of the world; economic and social consequences of the arms race; cessation of nuclear tests; and prevention of environmental modification of military purposes.
On another important political issue, the Assembly, on the recommendation of the First Committee, in 1975 adopted two resolutions that took sharply conflicting approaches to the Korean problem. Similarly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee (Trust and Non-SelfGoverning Territories), it adopted two conflicting resolutions on the Sahara (see Part III.
As in previous years, the Assembly also adopted, on the recommendation of its Special Political Committee, a number of resolutions concerned with Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, conditions within the territories occupied as the result of the Arab-Israeli wars, and effects of the South African policies of apartheid.