What is the criteria used for granting observer status to the General Assembly?
Last Updated: Oct 21, 2015
A/DEC/49/426 addresses the Question of criteria for the granting of observer status in the General Assembly. “…At its 84th plenary meeting, on 9 December 1994, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Sixth Committee, and taking note of the oral report presented to the Sixth Committee on 25 November 1994 by the Chairman of the Working Group on the question of criteria for the granting of observer status in the General Assembly, decided that the granting of observer status in the General Assembly should in the future be confined to States and to those intergovernmental organizations whose activities cover matters of interest to the Assembly. (in A/INF/49/7 -Page 128)
The UN Official document A/C.6/49/WG.3/CRP.1 (hereby attached) provides the criteria for the granting of observer status. According to this document, "...the granting of permanent observer status in the GA rests solely on the practice that has evolved since 1946. There are no provisions relating to observer status in the Charter or in the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly. The status of those invited to participate in the work of the General Assembly as observers has so far for the most part have been conferred on intergovernmental organizations, NGO’s are credited as observers to ECOSOC. "
ECOSOC Resolution 1296 (XLIV) titled “Arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations” outlines the principles to be applied in the establishment of consultative relations.
An annex in the letter dated 19 September 1994 from the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General in document A/49/231, requests that the issue of the criteria for the granting of observer status in the General Assembly be addressed by the Sixth Committee.
A list of organizations granted observer status in the General Assembly, Sixth Committee documents and resolutions are searchable through the Library catalogue, UNBISnet.
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