Functions of the Department
What do we do?
Meetings large and small take place daily at the United Nations. That is after all where the work of delegates of Member States is done, where problems are raised and solutions proposed. The overreaching goal of the Department is to provide the physical and deliberative framework for those meetings. To create that framework, the work of the Department follows three great through-lines: first, technical secretariat support and advice to intergovernmental bodies; second, meetings management; and third, documentation management. Taken together, the purpose of the timely provision of all services – simply put – is to give delegates everything they require when they require it in order for them to successfully accomplish the tasks that they have set for themselves. Our work facilitates their work, and should function as the oil that allows the wheels of intergovernmental negotiation to run smoothly.
- Technical secretariat support, which is explained in greater detail in the section on the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs Division, is provided to the General Assembly and its General Committee, the First (Disarmament and Peace Affairs) Committee, the Second (Economic and Financial) Committee, the Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee, the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee, and the Economic and Social Council and most of the Council’s subsidiary, ad hoc and expert bodies, as well as special United Nations conferences and expert groups dealing with disarmament, international security, and economic, social and related matters. By providing advice and assistance to the officers of the bodies concerned, the technical secretariat team of an intergovernmental or expert body ensures its smooth functioning on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant rules of procedure.
- The meetings management chain (see also under Meetings Management Section) includes conference planning and organization, the preparation of the United Nations calendar of conferences and meetings, the provision of meeting room facilities and other services, including interpretation into any or all of the official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Meetings Servicing Assistants are always in the room to assist delegates with information, documentation, and communication or in any other way possible.
- The documentation management chain (see also under Documents Management Section) ranges from the receipt of manuscripts, through editing, referencing, translation, text-processing, copy preparation and proofreading, to printing and distribution of reports and publications. By producing documentation in the six official languages of the United Nations as well as in German on occasion, the Department is at the forefront of multilingualism in the Organization.
Technical secretariat support + meetings management + documentation management = conference management, as stated in the name of the Department! All of this work is in the service of the States Members of the United Nations and of the intergovernmental processes in which they are involved.
Through reform measures introduced in the early 2000s, the Department has moved from a reactive role to a proactive management approach. As a result, it has gained a greater measure of control over, and achieved higher rates of efficiency in, processes that in the past were virtually anarchic, in particular documents management. An important mandate of the Department is the integrated global management of conference servicing resources, which means the coordination, harmonization and management of the operations at New York Headquarters, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.
The Department consists of the following organizational units:
- Office of the Under-Secretary-General
- General Assembly and Economic and Social Affairs Division (GAEAD)
- Meetings and Publishing Division (MPD)
- Documentation Division (DD)
- Central Planning and Coordination Division (CPCD)
Read the DGACM brochure International Year of Languages - Facilitating communication among nations which illustrates the Department's role in promoting dialogue and cooperation at the United Nations through the use of the six official languages.
Last Update: 8 February 2016 / Mingxia Xu