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Department for General Assembly and Conference Management

The General Assembly and ECOSOC Affairs Division

The staff members of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs Division – some 44 strong and representing 25 nationalities – are the “conference management brain trust” of the Secretariat, that is to say its institutional memory on the rules of procedure and best practices of the intergovernmental bodies that the Division supports.  They serve as the repository of all information on the work of those bodies past and present, from the General Assembly to the most confidential group of experts, for which they provide both conference management and substantive services.  They function as gentle but authoritative guides before, during and after meetings to ensure that everything moves along smoothly and carefully, both in planning and in execution.

The term “technical and substantive secretariat services” or “conference management services” deserves some explanation, since it lies at the heart of the functions of the Division.  Each intergovernmental or legislative body that meets within the United Nations is provided with a senior staff member who represents the Secretary-General and who, as the Political Affairs Officer, functions as the “Committee Secretary”.  The chief presiding officer of the body (President or Chair) is seated at the center of the podium, and the “Committee Secretary” is seated at his/her immediate left.  It is one of the major responsibilities of the Secretary of the intergovernmental body to ensure that the presiding officer has a secure understanding of the powers and duties, rights and responsibilities of the office, and to assist in the most effective and efficient exercise of them, including complete management of the conference services provided to the session.

The Secretary is assisted by a team of staff members who are given specific responsibilities with regard to the preparation for, functioning of, and follow-up to the work of the intergovernmental body.  They are indispensable to the successful outcome of the meeting.  The responsibilities of the entire team, who are collectively called the “conference management secretariat”, include the following:

The overriding concern and responsibility of the staff of the Division in the exercise of their conference management responsibilities is to know what the delegations and others involved in the meeting need to do in order to perform their work correctly and in accordance with the rules and practices.

In their technical and substantive servicing responsibilities, the primary attention of the staff of the Division is focused on the Member States of the intergovernmental bodies.  Those functions may be summarized as follows:

The Division is, in summation, responsible for creating the context of the meeting (the “how”, “when” and “where” of things), the framework within which the session takes place, and the day-to-day and minute-to-minute manner in which it is conducted.  Based on a thorough knowledge of parliamentary procedure and the experience of past practice, the staff of the Division offers expert advice to all involved, in particular the Chair, to ensure that each meeting runs smoothly and reaches a successful conclusion.

The Division consists of the following sections:


 

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Last Update: 23 May 2011 / Hendry BREED