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General Assembly




The General Assembly is the supreme organ of the Organization of American States.  It has as its principal powers, in addition to such others as are assigned to it by the Charter, the following:


To decide the general action and policy of the Organization, determine the structure and functions of its organs, and consider any matter relating to friendly relations among the American states;


To establish measures for coordinating the activities of the organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization among themselves, and such activities with those of the other institutions of the inter-American system;


To strengthen and coordinate cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized agencies;


To promote collaboration, especially in the economic, social, and cultural fields, with other international organizations whose purposes are similar to those of the Organization of American States;


To approve the program-budget of the Organization and determine the quotas of the member states;


To consider the reports of the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the observations and recommendations presented by the Permanent Council with regard to the reports that should be presented by the other organs and entities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 91.f, as well as the reports of any organ which may be required by the General Assembly itself;


To adopt general standards to govern the operations of the General Secretariat; and


To adopt its own rules of procedure and, by a two-thirds vote, its agenda.


The General Assembly exercises its powers in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and of other inter-American treaties.




The General Assembly is composed of the delegations accredited by the governments of the member states.  All member states have the right to be represented in the General Assembly.  Each state has the right to one vote.


The delegations of the member states are composed of the representatives, advisers, and other members accredited by the governments.  Each delegation shall have a head of delegation, who may delegate his duties to any other member of his delegation.

President and vice president


The head of the delegation indicated by the order of precedence previously established by the Preparatory Committee of the General Assembly shall serve as provisional president until the General Assembly elects its president at the first plenary session.  The election shall be by the vote of a majority of the member states.


The heads of delegation shall be vice presidents ex officio of the Assembly and shall replace the president in the event of his or her disability, in accordance with the order of precedence.




The Secretariat to the General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation, and the Permanent Council comes under the Office of the Assistant Secretary General.  The Assistant Secretary General’s Chief of Staff is the Director of that Secretariat.




The Preparatory Committee and the General Committee are committees of the General Assembly.  They may establish such subcommittees and working groups as they deem necessary.




The General Assembly by resolution AG/RES. 939 (XVIII-O/88) has recommended that the first Monday in June each year be set as the opening date for the regular session of the General Assembly.  At each regular session, it shall determine the place and date of the next regular session, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.  In special circumstances and with the approval of two thirds of the member states, the Permanent Council may convoke a special session of the General Assembly.


The General Assembly shall hold an inaugural session, the necessary plenary sessions, and a closing session.  In the case of a special session, the inaugural session may be eliminated.  These sessions shall be public, unless the respective body decides otherwise.  In accordance with Article 8, only the delegations of the member states, necessary Secretariat personnel, and the permanent observers may attend closed sessions.


A private dialogue of heads of delegation is held prior to the inaugural session.  The permanent observers and civil society representatives meet informally with the heads of delegation before the opening of the General Assembly.




The chairs, presidents, or representatives of the following organs or agencies of the inter-American system may attend General Assembly sessions with the right to speak:


The Inter-American Juridical Committee;

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights;

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights;

The Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development; and

The Inter-American specialized organizations.


The Secretary-General of the United Nations, or his representative, may attend the sessions of the General Assembly and may speak if he so desires.


Permanent observers or their respective alternates may attend the public sessions of the plenary Assembly and public meetings of the General Committee.  They may likewise attend any closed meetings when invited by the corresponding presiding officer.  Permanent observers may also request the floor and the corresponding presiding officer shall decide on the request.


The following may also send observers to the General Assembly:


Governments of American states that are not members of the Organization, with the authorization of the Permanent Council;


Governments of non-American states that are members of the United Nations or of its specialized agencies, when they express an interest in attending, with the authorization of the Permanent Council;


Inter-American regional or subregional governmental entities or agencies that are not included among the organs or agencies of the Organization, with the authorization of the Permanent Council; and


Specialized agencies of the United Nations and other international agencies and organizations defined as such under agreements in force entered into with the Organization.


The observers referred to in this article may request to speak at sessions or meetings, and the corresponding presiding officer shall decide on the request.


With the authorization of the Permanent Council and the consent of the government of the country in which the Assembly session is to be held, representatives of the specialized agencies of the United Nations and other governmental or nongovernmental international agencies and organizations may attend as special guests.


Requests to attend as special guests shall be presented to the General Secretariat of the Organization at least 30 days in advance of the opening of the Assembly session.


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