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The
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations System consists of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) ...
has granted observer status to
international organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. Organizations ...
s, entities, and non-member
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Global Talent Management. Its mission is to acquaint Department o ...
s, to enable them to participate in the work of the United Nations General Assembly, though with limitations. The General Assembly determines the privileges it will grant to each observer, beyond those laid down in a 1986 Conference on treaties between States and International Organizations. Exceptionally, the
EU
EU
was in 2011 granted the right to speak in debates, to submit proposals and amendments, the right of reply, to raise points of order and to circulate documents, etc. , the EU was the only international organisation to hold these enhanced rights, which has been likened to the rights of full membership, short of the right to vote. Observer status may be granted by a
United Nations General Assembly resolution A United Nations General Assembly Resolution is a decision or declaration voted on by all member states of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and interna ...
. The status of a permanent observer is based purely on practice of the General Assembly, and there are no provisions for it in the
United Nations Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public internation ...

United Nations Charter
. The practice is to distinguish between state and non-state observers. Non-member states are members of one or more
specialized agencies United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, d ...
, and can apply for permanent observer state status. Non-state observers are the
international organizations An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. Organizations ...
and other entities.


Non-member observers

The General Assembly may invite non-member entities to participate in the work of the United Nations without formal membership, and has done so on numerous occasions. Such participants are described as observers, some of which may be further classified as non-member state observers. Most former non-member observer states accepted observer status at a time when they had applied for membership but were unable to attain it, due to the (actual or threatened) veto by one or more of the permanent members of the Security Council. The grant of observer status is made by the General Assembly only; it not subject to a Security Council veto. In some circumstances a state may elect to become an observer rather than full member. For example, to preserve its neutrality while participating in its work,
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
chose to remain a permanent non-member state observer from 1948 until it became a member in 2002.


Present non-member observers

, there are two permanent non-member observer states in the General Assembly of the United Nations: the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
and
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
. Both were described as "Non-member States having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters". The Holy See uncontroversially obtained its non-member observer state status in 1964. The Holy See did not wish to join the United Nations as a member because "Membership in the organization would not seem to be consonant with the provisions of Article 24 of the
Lateran Treaty The Lateran Treaty ( it, Patti Lateranensi; la, Pacta Lateranensia) was one component of the Lateran Pacts of 1929, agreements between the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—whe ...
, particularly as regards spiritual status and participation in possible use of force." Since April 6, 1964, the Holy See has accepted permanent observer state status, which was regarded as a diplomatic courtesy, to enable the Vatican to participate in the UN's humanitarian activities and in the promotion of peace. In 2012, Palestine's observer status was changed from "non-member observer entity" to "non-member observer state", which many called "symbolic". The change followed an application by Palestine for full UN membership in 2011 as part of the
Palestine 194 Palestine 194 is an ongoing diplomatic campaign by the Palestinian National Authority to gain membership in the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and int ...
campaign, to provide additional leverage to the Palestinians in their dealings with Israel. The application had not been put to a UN Security Council vote. With the change in status, the
United Nations Secretariat The United Nations Secretariat (french: link=no, Secrétariat des Nations unies) is one of the six major organs of the United Nations, with the others being (a) the United Nations General Assembly, General Assembly; (b) the United Nations Secu ...
held that Palestine was entitled to become a party to treaties for which the UN Secretary-General is the
depositary In international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptu ...
. On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol, Yeocheol Yoon, declared that "the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents." The seating in the General Assembly Hall is arranged with non-member observer states being seated immediately after
UN member states UN is an abbreviation for the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states ...

UN member states
, and before other observers. On 10 September 2015, the General Assembly resolved to approve the raising at the UN of the flags of non-member observer states alongside those of the 193 UN member states. ;Notes * The
Cook Islands ) , image_map = Cook Islands on the globe (small islands magnified) (Polynesia centered).svg , capital = Avarua , coordinates = , largest_city = Avarua , official_languages = , languages_type = Spoken languages , languages = , ethn ...
and
Niue Niue ( or ; niu, Niuē) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people wh ...

Niue
, both states in free association with
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
, are members of several UN specialized agencies, and have had their "full treaty-making capacity" recognized by
United Nations Secretariat The United Nations Secretariat (french: link=no, Secrétariat des Nations unies) is one of the six major organs of the United Nations, with the others being (a) the United Nations General Assembly, General Assembly; (b) the United Nations Secu ...
in 1992 and 1994 respectively. The Cook Islands has expressed a desire to become a UN member state, but New Zealand has said that they would not support the application without a change in their constitutional relationship, in particular the right of Cook Islanders to
New Zealand citizenship New Zealand nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds New Zealand nationality. Regulations apply to the entire Realm of New Zealand The Realm of New Zealand consists of the entire area (or realm) in which the monarch of ...
. * The
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...

Republic of China
, commonly known as
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
, was a founding member of the United Nations representing China, which had been divided between the ROC and the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
since the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Nationalist government, government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lastin ...
. However, in 1971
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was passed in response to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1668 that required any change in China's representation in the UN be determined by a two-thirds vote referring to Articl ...
transferred China's seat in the UN from the ROC to the PRC. Since then, Taiwan has sought to resume its participation in UN activities. Various methods were considered, including seeking observer status, but ultimately the ROC chose to submit more vague requests which did not specify the form of participation it sought between 1993 and 2006. These requests have been consistently denied due to the UN's recognition of the PRC as the "legitimate representative of China to the United Nations". The UN Secretary-General concluded from the resolution that the General Assembly considered Taiwan to be a “province of China” (important to note, not the PRC which Taiwan was never part of as it continues to be the ROC which itself continues to claim to be “China”), and thus it does not permit the ROC to become a party to treaties for which it is the depositary. * Other countries are recognized by the United Nations as not being self-governing and appear on the
United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter deals with non-self-governing territories. The reference to "territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government" reflects the ...
, but are represented in the UN by their respective administering member state.UN THE WORLD TODAY (PDF)
showing UN member states (blue), non-member states (green and yellow), non-self-governing territories (red) and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (gray).


Former non-member observers

Sixteen former non-member states were also granted observer status. Fourteen of those states eventually became members of the United Nations. The other two constitute a single special case. Most of the former non-member observer states accepted this status at a time when they had applied for membership but were unable to attain it, due to the (actual or threatened) veto of one or more of the permanent members of the Security Council. The vetoes were later overcome either by changes in geopolitical circumstances, or by "package deals" under which the Security Council approved multiple new member states at the same time, as was done with a dozen countries in 1955 and with East and West Germany in 1973. ;Notes


Entities and international organizations

Many
intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal treaties for handling/serving common interests and governed by interna ...
s and a few other entities (
non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of ...
s and others with various degrees of statehood or sovereignty), are invited to become observers at the General Assembly. Some of them maintain a permanent office in the United Nations headquarters in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
, while others do not; however, this is the choice of the organization and does not imply differences in their status.


Regional organizations allowed by their member states to speak on their behalf

While the EU is an observer, it is party to some 50 international UN agreements as the only non-state participant. It is a full participant on the
Commission on Sustainable Development The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was a body under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) tasked with overseeing the outcomes of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development/Earth Summit T ...
, the Forum on Forests and the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
. It has also been a ''full participant'' at certain UN summits, such as the Rio and Kyoto summits on climate change, including hosting a summit. Furthermore, the EU delegation maintains close relations with the UN's aid bodies.Description of the European Union Delegation in New York
, EU Delegation to the UN
In 2011 the EU was granted enhanced powers in the General Assembly; the right to speak in debates, to submit proposals and amendments, the right of reply, to raise points of order and to circulate documents. These rights were also made open to other international organizations who requested them,Phillips, Leigh (15 July 2010
EU reaches out for new powers at United Nations
, EU Observer
Phillips, Leigh (3 May 2011
EU wins new powers at UN, transforming global body
, EU Observer
if their members have given them the right to speak on their behalf. In the resolution adopted in May 2011 granting additional rights to the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
the UNGA decided that similar arrangements may be adopted for any other
regional organization Regional organizations (ROs) are, in a sense, international organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the b ...
that is allowed to speak on behalf of its member states.


Intergovernmental organizations


Other entities


Former observers

* The
South West Africa People's Organization The South West Africa People’s Organisation (, SWAPO; af, Suidwes-Afrikaanse Volks Organisasie, SWAVO; german: Südwestafrikanische Volksorganisation, SWAVO), officially known as the SWAPO Party of Namibia, is a political party and former in ...
(SWAPO), a
liberation movement A liberation movement is an organization or political movement A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
in
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
, held observer status with the right to circulate communications without intermediary beginning in 1976.UNGA Resolution A/RES/31/152
Observer status for the South West Africa People's Organization
This terminated in 1990 when the Republic of
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
attained independence and was granted full membership in the United Nations and SWAPO was transformed into a
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
.


See also

*
Member states of the United Nations Member may refer to: * Military jury A United States military "jury" (or "Members", in military parlance) serves a function similar to an American civilian jury, but with several notable differences. Only a Courts-martial in the United States, Ge ...

Member states of the United Nations
*
List of current permanent representatives to the United Nations#REDIRECT List of current permanent representatives to the United Nations {{R from other capitalisation ...
* UN ECOSOC observers * :United Nations General Assembly observers


Notes


References


External links


Full list of UNGA and ECOSOC observers with admission resolutions details, January 2010

United Nations General Assembly

United Nations missions in New York City

Non-member States with Observer Status

Intergovernmental Organizations and Other Entities with Observer Status

UN Info Quest – Organizations granted observer status in the General Assembly

Blue Book "Permanent Missions to the United Nations No. 298"
dated March 2008 {{DEFAULTSORT:United Nations General Assembly Observers United Nations-related lists