Friday, August 03, 2007

President of Peace

Many of you might be familiar with the United Nations; it's the international organization that tries to find peaceful solutions to problems. (Running on a budget less than the New York Police Department!) What you might not know is that currently the General Assembly has a woman leader for the first time since 1969. (There have only be three women G. A. leaders in history.) Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa was appointed to the post by representatives of the United Nations General Assembly. The Presidency is only a one year term starting in September. As September comes, it will not only begin a wonderful new school year (do I hear grumbling?) it will also bring Sheikha's term to a close.
Sheikha was born on October 18, 1952 in Bahrain. She received two degrees; one in Civil Private Law and one in Comparative Law. Then she became one of two woman to first practice law in her country. Now, she has her own law firm called Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Law Firm. She's also been an Ambassador for France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain and is a Global Advisor to Orphans International. Is she a feminist? Sheikha is an 'active participant in the movement to elevate the position of women in Bahrain'. Yeah, I'd say that qualifies.

So she's the President of what? What is the General Assembly? What does it do? First, the General Assembly has member states. Member states are countries that pay to have a vote in the General Assembly. Currently, there are 192 countries listed as member states. If a country wants to join they have to get 2/3 majority. (Most every other decision is made based on majority vote). Each year the budget is divided among the member states according on their ability to pay. Some countries only have to pay .0001% of the budget. If a country is unable to for two years in a row, they lose the ability to vote. The G. A. is the only part of the U. N. were every member state gets a vote.

So what is the focus of the General Assembly? Basically anything is up for discussion; it could be AIDS or the environment. From September to December (the normal session) they follow the agenda they voted on. Sometimes emergency meetings are called "in the case of an act of aggression". The President will run these meetings as well. (There was only been 9 emergency sessions so far). The President has a growing power and responsibility as the influence of the G.A. grows. They are responsible for moving the agenda forward and getting the member states to agree. They often speak for the Assembly as a whole and give reports. Unless the General Assembly has another emergency meeting, Sheikha's term is over. But she made history as the third woman to hold this high position.

Read more about Sheikha in an interview she gave.

Click here to go to the United Nations website.
Peace, friends.

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