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The Main Bodies of the United Nations and their Functions

While the United Nations may seem like a daunting bureaucracy, at its core it is an efficient body
which does not get as much credit as it deserves. Although certain aspects, such as the Security
Council, are outdated, most member states are committed to improving the organization so that it
can remain a relevant body in the future. The United Nations and all of its subsidiary bodies set
the tone of the international community. Despite its shortcomings, the United Nations is the closest
thing we have the moment to international oversight. In the future, the United Nations may serve
as a model to promote international cooperation and it may even lay the framework for a system
of international governance. Here are the main bodies of governance and their functions:

1. UN General Assembly

The General Assembly is the primary body of the United Nations. All member states can engage,
diplomatically, with their foreign counterparts to discuss questions of international peace and
security, general principles of cooperation, and make recommendations within the scope of the
Charter for peaceful dispute resolution. Each member state has one vote and important resolutions,
such as those made by the Security Council, require two-thirds majority, while other issues require
a simple majority. Recently, there has been an effort in the Security Council to achieve consensus
for resolutions, rather than simply taking the matter to a vote. These efforts have helped resolutions
more inclusive in that they are working to incorporate a wider variety of positions on topics, as
opposed to the traditional ‘take it or leave it’ mentality. All resolutions made in the General
Assembly are non-binding, however, they have a weight of their own. Many of the resolutions
made in the General Assembly have spurred international action on various issues, which have in
turn saved the lives of millions of people around the world.

2. The First Committee of the UN General Assembly

The First Committee, which is also known as the Disarmament and International Security
Committee, deals with threats to global peace. This committee handles with disarmament and
international security concerns. The First Committee reaffirms the general principles of security
and peace maintenance. The First Committee is a place where states discuss and propose tools to
better understand international security issues. In working together to increase global security,
member states negotiate disarmament treaties. Oftentimes, international norms are founded in
these discussions. Governments learn how to cooperate and build consensus, rather than confront
one another militarily.

The first committee, however, is a stagnant committee at best. Many of the member states are
merely representatives of their country’s defense forces. These representatives tend to reiterate
their country’s positions, but rarely press diplomatically for necessary comprehensive solutions.
Oftentimes, these representatives are constrained by their country policy on these topics, much of
which is outside of their power. However, these problems highlight the difficult nature of the topic
at hand; many states have not changed their positions regarding disarmament in decades. Most of
the dissenters in this committee openly reject the position of the majority and rarely comply with
the resolutions compiled by this committee.
3. The Second Committee of the UN General Assembly

The Economic and Financial Committee handles macroeconomic policy questions pertaining to
economic growth and development, including international trade and finance. This committee also
concerns itself with globalization, poverty eradication and the development of human capital. As
a part of the larger task towards revitalizing the General Assembly, the Second Committee is
working to improve inter-committee efficiency and quality of debate.

4. The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly

Also known as the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs committee, this group discusses a
variety of sociocultural issues affecting people around the globe. This committee works closely
with the Human Rights Council (UNHRC). On the whole, the committee has advanced
international norms, such as education for all, the rights of children, indigenous issues, the right to
self-determination, and the advancement of women.

5. The Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly

This committee discusses matters relating to special political issues and decolonization. This
committee deals with decolonization, refugees, human rights and peacekeeping.

6. The Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly

This committee deals with the administrative and budgetary issues. The Fifth Committee is
extremely important because no resolutions or actions can be made without prior examination by
the committee. In order for a resolution to considered, a budget must first be prepared by the Fifth
Committee which estimates the costs of any related expenditures.

7. The Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly

Also known as Sixth Legal, this committee is the forum through which member states can discuss
the legality of resolutions proposed in the General Assembly. The Sixth Committee is an important
body because it holds the General Assembly accountable to international law. This committee
provides a considerable amount of oversight within the United Nations.

8. The Security Council

Created to promote international peace and security after World War II, the Council’s structure is
somewhat outdated, with 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members. All of the
permanent members- the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, and the Russian
Federation- were Allies during the Second World War. The non-permanent members are selected
on a rotating basis in the General Assembly and serve two-year positions. Each member has the
right to vote on resolutions made in the Council, but only permanent members have the power to
veto resolutions. The structure of the Council is often criticized because all of the power resides in
the permanent members, many of whom were former colonial powers. Developing nations
feel at a disadvantage and often call for changes to be made to grant emerging nations (specifically
BRICs) membership, and ultimately veto power, in the Security Council.

The Council meets whenever a situation arises which threatens international peace; a
representative from each member state is always present at the UN headquarters so that the Council
can meet at any time necessary. The Council is often the forerunner in determining whether such
threats exist. The Security Council has the power to undertake investigations and mediation,
dispatch missions, appoint special envoys, and set forth principles for an agreement. When
disputes are hostile and the parties are unlikely to come to a resolution peacefully, the Council can
issue a cease-fire and even dispatch military observers or peacekeepers to the region. Other powers
endowed to the Security Council include the power to enforce economic sanctions, blockade,
collective military action or severance of diplomatic relations.

9. The International Court of Justice

The ICJ is the world’s court. The ICJ was established at the same time as the United Nations. The
ICJ deals with two types of cases. First, the ICJ is responsible for resolving legal disputes which
are brought to it by member states, especially when jurisdiction is difficult to determine. Member
states which bring their legal disputes to the ICJ have already accepted the jurisdiction outlined by
the ICJ, meaning that they agree to comply with the decisions made in the Court. Second, the ICJ
offers legal advice to various bodies within the United Nations and other specialized agencies.
When the ICJ is requested to provide an advisory opinion, it may hold oral and written proceedings.
The ICJ rules based on international treaties and conventions in force, international customs, the
general principles of law, and past judicial decisions.

10. The Economic and Social Council

ECOSOC is where the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges are discussed.
ECOSOC has two main functions, both of which are relatively new. First, the Annual Ministerial
Review is a meeting in which progress towards internationally agreed development goals (IADGs)
is assessed. Second, the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) is a biennial gathering to enhance
the effectiveness of development programs by providing policy guidance and recommendations to
improve the quality of such programs.
European law is made effective in Britain by the European Communities Act 1972, section 2 in
particular. European law itself basically consists of two treaties: the “Treaty on European Union”
(teu), which is the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, as amended; and the “Treaty on the Functioning of the
European Union” (tfeu), which is the 1957 Treaty of Rome, as amended. All the other treaties that
you have heard of: Lisbon, Nice, Amsterdam, and so on are all just treaties that amend these two
main treaties. There are also protocols and annexes that are part of these treaties and a Charter of
Fundamental Rights of the EU that has the same legal value as the treaties, although its application
in Britain and Poland is limited by Protocol 30.

The main institutions that administer the EU are listed in Article 13 (teu) as:

The EU building in Brussels

The European Parliament

The European Council

The Council

The European Commission

The Court of Justice of the European Union

The European Central Bank

The Court of Auditors.

There is a variety of committees stemming from these institutions and also the European
Investment Bank, which is a separate entity from the European Central Bank.

The European Parliament consists of 749 members at the moment including 11 from Croatia,
which joined in 2013. Article 14 (teu) limits the number to 751 and also states that no member
state shall have more than 96 MEPs; only Germany has 96 MEPs at the moment. The UK has 73
MEPs. The Parliament elects its own President (currently German Martin Shultz) and officers
from within itself. It also elects the Commission President, but does so following a proposal from
the European Council. Its main function is to exercise law-making functions along with the
Council (not the European Council).

The European Council consists of Heads of State or Government of member states, plus its
President (currently Poland’s Donald Tusk) and the President of the Commission. Its main
function is to define general policy of the Union.

The Council, however, is the law-making body, along with the European Parliament, and consists,
in various complex configurations, of a representative of each member state at ministerial level,
who can cast the vote of that state. It acts by qualified majority voting unless otherwise stated in
the Treaty article in question.
Up until 31 October 2014, the commission consisted of one Commissioner from each member
state, including the President (currently Luxembourger Jean-Claude Junker) and the High
Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Italian Federica
Mogherini). After 1 November 2014 the composition of the Commission was supposed to change
to a reduced number, chosen by a complex system of rotation which was outlined in Article 17
(teu). However there are still 28 Commissioners in the 2014-2019 Commission. The Commission
acts as the civil service of the Union, but it also has the sole power to propose most legislative acts
(Article 17 teu). The Commission is a very powerful institution.

The Court of Justice of the European Union consists of a number of different courts, some
specialised, with judges appointed by member states. There is a detailed statute covering the court
at Protocol 3.

The European Central Bank, together with national central banks, constitutes the European
System of Central Banks, which gets a bit complicated. There is a detailed statute covering the
banking system at Protocol 4.

The Court of Auditors consists of one appropriately qualified national of each member state,
appointed by the Council on proposals from member states. They are appointed for six years at a
time. Articles 285 – 287 (tfeu) refer.

The two main advisory bodies of the EU are the Economic and Social Committee, which consists
of a variety of representatives of civil society; and the Committee of the Regions, which consist of
elected representatives of regional and local bodies, or those accountable to them. Both these
institutions are covered by Article 300 (tfeu). There is also the European Investment Bank, which
finances European projects on a non-profit making basis. There is a detailed statute for the EIB at
Protocol 5, which includes the amount each Member State is liable for.

That is a brief summary of the structure of the European Union and its institutions. Let us now
have a look at how this behemoth functions.

The second sub paragraph of the third paragraph of Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union
requires member states to: “… take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure
fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions
of the Union.” This is what obliges us to do as we are told by the EU. There are five basic acts
of EU institutions, three of which are binding.

Regulations: these are effectively a law in their own right and are directly applicable to all member

Directives: these require member states to implement them by incorporating their provisions into
national law.

Decisions: these are binding only on those to whom they are addressed.

There are also Recommendations and Opinions, but these are not binding.
How European legislation is made. There are two legislative procedures, the ordinary procedure
and the special procedure. The individual Article should specify the procedure applicable to it.

The ordinary legislative procedure is laid out in Article 294 (tfeu) and begins with a proposal from
the Commission to the Parliament and the Council. If both agree the proposal is adopted as is; if
anyone disagrees there is a complex system of horse-trading to be followed until the proposal is
either adopted as amended or dropped.

The special legislative procedure, which is laid out in paragraph 2 of Article 289 (tfeu), is where
acts are adopted either by the European Parliament with the participation of the Council, or the
Council with the participation of the European Parliament.

Let’s just recap on the function of the main institutions.

The European Parliament, along with the Council, makes the legislation. However, it can
normally only legislate on a proposal from the Commission.

The European Council is the heads of government, their President and the President of the
Commission, and they decide the general policy direction of the union. They, as an institution, do
not create legislation.

The Council, along with the European Parliament, makes the legislation. However, they can
normally only legislate on a proposal from the Commission.

The Commission is supposed to be the civil service of the EU. It executes the budget, manages
the programmes and exercises coordinating, executive and management functions. In other words,
it runs the show.

How the Council votes are cast depends on the individual Treaty Article, but the default system is
Qualified Majority Voting. This is a system by which each member state is allocated votes
according to its size. However after 1 November 2014 it got a lot more complicated and now
depends on percentages of participating Council members and populations of participating
member states. This is described in Article 238 (tfeu).

The two main Treaties can be amended in two ways, both laid out in Article 48 (teu): the ordinary
revision procedure, which is a long and complex procedure that is effectively a new amending
treaty, such as Lisbon, and requires ratification by all member states. The simplified revision
procedure only applies to the Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(tfeu), which is the bit about Union Policies and Internal Action. This procedure does not allow
the EU to increase its competences (ie. power), and is enacted by a unanimous Decision of the
European Council after consulting the European Parliament and Commission, and the Central
Bank in the case of monetary changes.
Structure of the World Trade Organisation:
Ministerial Conference

WTO is headed by the Ministerial Conference who enjoys absolute authority over the institution.
It not only carries out functions of the WTO but also takes appropriate measures to administer the
new global trade rules. It is integrated by representatives of all WTO Members and shall meet at
least once in every two years. It is the chief policy-making body of WTO and any major policy
changes, such as a decision to alter competition policy or to rewrite the WTO agreement, require
its approval.

General Council

In addition to these, the structure of the WTO consists of a General Council to oversee the WTO
agreement and ministerial decisions on a regular basis. It is also formed by the representatives of
all WTO Members and acts on behalf of Ministerial Conference whenever the Conference is not
in sessions. The General Council also meets as the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy
Review Body. The Council sits in its headquarters Geneva, Switzerland usually once a month.

Trade Councils

Besides General Council, there is the Council for Trade in Goods, the Council for Trade in
Services, the Council for Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). These Councils and
their respective subsidiary bodies perform their respective functions. Each member has one vote.
Decision-making is made by consensus. If consensus is not reached then majority voting plays the
crucial rate.

In addition to these councils, Working Parties can be established by the General Council in order
to deal with specific issues defined by General Council.

Trade Committees

Trade Committees are formed for delegation under four authorities, namely:

 Under the terms of one of the Multilateral Trade Agreements

 By one of the Trade Councils
 By the Ministerial Conference
 Under the terms of one of the Plurilateral Trade Agreements

Each committee organizes its own procedures and may establish further subsidiary committees if
it seems fit. They also serve as the forum for discussions on ways to improve trade. And the
Committees meet once every two to three months.


The WTO secretariat (numbering 625 of many nationalities) is headed by Director General who is
appointed by Ministerial Conference. The Secretariat of the WTO is responsible for servicing the
WTO bodies with respect to negotiations and the implementation of agreements. Since decisions
are taken by Members only, Secretariat has no decision making power.

Dispute Settlement Body

The task of ensuring that all Members live up to their commitments and that there is a common
understanding of the nature of those commitments is a central part of the work of the WTO. WTO’s
procedure is a mechanism which is used to settle trade dispute under the Dispute Settlement
Understanding (DSU). A dispute arises when a member government believes that another member
government is violating an agreement which has been made in the WTO. And the dispute
settlement under WTO not only ensures security and predictability to the multilateral trading
system but is also concerned with the situations where a Member seeks remedy for damage to its
trade interests caused by the actions/inactions of other members. There are different stages of
dispute settlement under WTO which are as follows:

1. Consultations
2. Establishing a Dispute Panel
3. Implementing of Panel and Appellate Body Ruling

Find out more about Dispute Settlement Body Here.

Functions of the World Trade Organisation:

The WTO was founded on certain guiding principles—non-discrimination, free trade, open, fair
and undistorted competition, etc. In addition, it has a special concern for developing countries.

At the heart of the Organisation are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the
world’s trading nations. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and
importers conduct their business. The WTO’s overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly,
frets, fairly, and predictably.

With these objectives in mind, WTO is performing following functions:

1. It shall facilitate the implementation, administration, nd operation of the WTO trade

agreements, such as multilateral trade agreements and plurilateral trade agreements.
2. It shall provide a forum for liberalization negotiations among its members concerning their
multilateral trade relations.
3. It shall administer the ‘Dispute Settlement Procedure’ so as to handle trade disputes.
4. It shall monitor national trade policies (including Trade Policy Review Mechanism).
5. It shall cooperate with various international organizations like the IMF and the World Bank
with the aim of achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making.
6. It shall provide technical assistance and training for members of the developing countries.
ASEAN Charter-Based Bodies

The Charter sets out the mandate and function of the different ASEAN bodies.

The ASEAN Summit is the supreme policy-making body of ASEAN. It meets twice a year and
is comprised of the ASEAN Heads of State or Government.

The ASEAN Coordinating Council is the second highest body within ASEAN and is comprised
of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Like the Summit, the Coordinating Council meets twice
yearly. The Coordinating Council decides the criteria and rules for ASEAN engagement with
external entities, including civil society organizations.

The ASEAN Community Councils include the:

1. ASEAN Political-Security Community Council

2. ASEAN Economic Community Council
3. ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council

These councils comprise of one Ministerial representative per ASEAN Member State. Each
Council’s role is to coordinate the work of the different sectoral bodies within their respective
“community” in order to achieve the objectives of the ASEAN pillars. Each Community Council
meets twice annually. The Councils must implement ASEAN Summit decisions but can also
submit reports and recommendations to the Summit for consideration.

The ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies bring together the ministers of specific sectors (for
example, all of the labour ministers of all the member countries will make up one sectoral
ministerial body). They report to the Community Councils and are tasked with strengthening
cooperation within their sector and implementing decisions from the ASEAN Summit.

Each ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Body has relevant senior officials committees (known as
Senior Officials Meetings or SOM) and technical bodies to assist it in its workThe ASEAN
Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Foundation are also
ASEAN Charter-based bodies. The Foundation was established in 1997 to support social
development programs aimed at reducing poverty and economic disparities within ASEAN, and
to facilitate greater interaction among the people of ASEAN.

The Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates on a yearly basis between the different Member States.
The Chairmanship of most ASEAN bodies, including the ASEAN Inter-governmental
Commission on Human Rights, also follow this pattern.

The ASEAN and National Secretariats

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta and supports the day-to-day workings of ASEAN.
Headed by the ASEAN Secretary-General, the Secretariat plays an important role in drawing up
plans of action in collaboration with ASEAN Senior Officials to implement decisions made at
ASEAN's high level meetings.
The Secretary General is appointed by the ASEAN Summit for a non-renewable term of five
years. He or she is supported by four Deputy Secretary Generals (DSGs) from four different
Member States. Two DSGs are nominated by Member States on a rotational basis for a three
year non-renewable term. The other two DSGs are openly recruited based on merit for a
renewable term of three years and are appointed by the ASEAN Coordinating Council. There is a
DSG responsible for implementing each of the ASEAN Communities. The fourth DSG is
responsible for Community and Corporate Affairs; providing guidance on research, public affairs
and outreach programmes for the ASEAN Community.

One important role of the Secretariat is to facilitate ASEAN cooperation with external partners.
The relevant Directorate for this is the Community Affairs Development Directorate. Find
more information on how non-government organizations can engage with ASEAN here.

Each ASEAN Member State also has an ASEAN National Secretariat whose role is to
coordinate the implementation of ASEAN decisions at the national level. They also support any
ASEAN meetings or activities that are held in-country.

ASEAN Diplomatic Representation

The ASEAN Charter requires that each Member State will have a Permanent Representative to
ASEAN with the rank of Ambassador based in Jakarta. The Committee of Permanent
Representatives (CPR) is tasked with supporting the work of the ASEAN Community Councils
and ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies, and coordinating with the ASEAN National
Secretariats and the ASEAN Secretariat. The Permanent Representatives must also facilitate
cooperation with external partners.

ASEAN External Relations

Dialogue Partners
ASEAN Dialogue Partners are States or inter-governmental organizations with which ASEAN
interacts on a formal basis. There are currently 10 dialogue partners: Australia, Canada, China,
the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States of
America. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) also has dialogue status and
Pakistan is a sectoral dialogue partner. ASEAN has concluded free trade agreements with the
majority of its dialogue partners, and holds regular meetings with groupings within these 10
partners such as the “ASEAN +3” annual meeting that involves ASEAN plus Japan, South Korea
and China.

ASEAN Regional Forum

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a forum through which ASEAN engages with non-
ASEAN states on political and security matters. It was formed in 1992 by way of the Singapore
Declaration at the ASEAN Summit. The ARF consists of the 10 ASEAN Member States, the 12
ASEAN Dialogue Partners and one ASEAN Observer Country.

The ARF countries interact on a formal basis (Track I) through annual meetings and on an
informal basis (Track II) through non-official seminars and workshops.
From the OAU to the AU

As an organization, the OAU registered achievements in assisting liberation movements in

Africa to gain self-rule for their various countries. However, the OAU was a victim of the Cold
War that helped in undermining the cohesion that would have been needed in the continent.
Many African leaders were used by respective global powers for specific strategic reasons. These
rulers were supported by the West or Russia for their geo-strategic relevance rather than for their
appeal to democratic precepts. With the end of the Cold War, the reigning wave of deregulation
and the rise of the middle class in many African countries, populations started making more
demands from their leaders in terms of accountability and transparency. Adopting the Sirte
Declaration (1999), African leaders called for the creation of a new organization with the aim to
promote more democracy and good governance at continental level.

While the fundamental principle under the OAU Charter was the celebration of sovereignty and
non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States, the Constitutive Act of the African
Union is built on the condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes in government. The
AU Charter underlines the importance to foster the culture of good governance, democracy, rule
of law and popular participation.

AU structure and decision-making procedures

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government

The Assembly is the supreme organ of the Union. It meets at least once a year and has the
function to determine the common policies of the Union. The Assembly has the powers to
appoint judges of the AU, the president of the Commmssion (Authority) and to adopt the budget.
It also monitors the implementation of policies and decisions of the Union, ensuring compliance
by all Member States.

The Executive Council

The Executive Council is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs or such other Ministers
or Authorities as are designated by the Governments of Member States. It meets at least twice a
year in ordinary session. The main task of the Council is to lead all the aspects of functional
integration in the areas of trade, energy, science and technology amongst others.

Specialized Technical Committees

The specialized technical committees are composed of either ministers or senior officials and are
charged with preparing programs for the Council. They also ensure follow up of the
implementation of the projects and programs of the Union. The Committees equally coordinate
AU programs and present recommendations to the Executive Council. There are seven technical
committees that focus on a) rural and agricultural economy; b) financial and monetary issues; c)
trade, customs and immigration issues; d) industry, science and technology, energy, natural
resources and the environment; e) transport, communications and tourism; f) health labour and
social affairs and g) education culture and human resources.
The Permanent Representatives' Committee

The Committee of Permanent representatives is composed of ambassadors of the Member states

that are based in Addis Abba. The committee lays the ground work for the meetings of the
Executive Council and also takes instructions from this organ. It may set up such sub-committees
or working groups as it may deem necessary.

The Pan African Parliament (PAP)

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is a novel institution, that was created in 2004 specifically to
reflect the concerns of the African population in the continental administrative architecture.
Composed of representatives of the national assemblies, the PAP is based in South Africa and
has a consultative and advisory role. It has ten parliamentary committees and also has its own
rules of procedure.

The Court of Justice

Composed of judges appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Court of
Justice is a merger of the African Court of Justice and the African Court of Human Rights. The
creation of such a strong judicial arm is considered an important tool to tamper the very strong
leverage hitherto wielded by the political organs of the continental organization when it was still
the OAU. However the court can only function appositely if the political masters allow it the
appropriate mandate and latitude for action. The Court will work closely with the African
Commission on International Law. The members of this Commission are also appointed by the
Heads of State and Government.

The Authority or the Commission

The Authority or the Commission is the main organ of the Union that is most visible to the
outside world. Composed of nine commissioners and a legal counsel, the Commission is led by a
President and his or her deputy. Each commissioner leads a directorate, namely, the directorate
of conferences and events; peace and security; political affairs; infrastructure and energy; social
affairs; human resources, science and technology; trade and industry; rural economy and
agriculture; and economic affairs. The Commission President and Commissioners are all
appointed by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government. The Commission is regarded
as the engine of the AU and plays a crucial role in the implementation of the AU’s democracy
and good governance agenda. In recognizing the importance of transparent elections, the AU
Commission has created the African Trust Fund for Electoral observation and Assistance.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC)

The Peace and Security Council, instituted in 2004, has 15 members that are elected on regional
lines and on the basis of geographic representativeness. The PSC plays a critical role in
upholding democracy in the sense that its early warning mechanism can easily signal instances,
where derogations from democratic precepts and practices may herald instability in various
countries. This aspect of the role of the PSC is embodied in the AU Charter on Democracy.
When there is an unconstitutional takeover in a member state, the PSC has the power to suspend
the said State Party from the exercise of its right to participate in the activities of the Union. The
suspension shall take effect immediately.

The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)

The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is an advisory organ composed of representatives of
150 organizations from African states and regions with the aim to guarantee the economic, social
and cultural interests of civil society.

Other bodies
The New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD)

The New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) was launched on 23 October 2001 as a
special program to mark the level of democracy of the Union. It was widely welcomed as
Africa’s Marshall Plan. Its key dimensions are African ownership, responsibility, democracy and
development/people-centred leadership.

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

The APRM was created as a tool of NEPAD in 2003, after the adoption of the Durban
Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance. It was envisaged to
be the device with which to ensure better governance through a means of mutual assessment or
reciprocal peer review. The APRM is based, amongst others, on an APRM Trust Fund.

Financial Bodies

There are plans to create an African Central Bank that is to be based in Nigeria. It will manage a
single currency or Afro for the entire continent, regulating the banking sector and determining
the official exchange and interest rates. The second financial institution is the African Investment
Bank that is to be based in Tripoli (Libya). It would have to guarantee the local governments
coordination for the funding of planned projects. Finally the African Monetary Fund will be
based in Yaoundé (Cameroon). In time the operations of the Fund will be transferred to the
Central Bank.

Decision-making within AU

The highest policy-making institutions within AU, i.e. the Assembly of Heads of State and
Government and the Executive Council, in general adopt decisions by unanimity. If such
consensus is not attained then a two thirds majority is used as threshold. However on matters that
are procedural the cut off is a simple majority.