19 September 2008
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly


2nd Meeting (AM)



The United Nations General Assembly today adopted the work programme for its sixty-third session, which contained more than 150 items, among them, a request to seek an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s mid-February declaration of independence.

Officially titled, “Request of an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law”, the Assembly plans to take up the item when it considers matters related to “Promotion of justice and international law”.

As the only delegate to take the floor on the subject, the representative of the United States underlined her support for the International Court of Justice and recognized the importance of what seeking its opinion could have in the appropriate case.  Her Government maintained general support for the policy of liberal inscription on the agenda, and in light of that, had chosen not to oppose inscription of the item at hand.  Nonetheless, the United States had “serious reservations” about the appropriateness of the General Assembly to consider the issue and would disassociate from decisions relating to that item.

The issue was among several new items proposed for inclusion on the Assembly’s agenda by the General Committee, which held a closed-door session Wednesday to fine-tune its submission.  Acting on those recommendations, the Assembly also decided to include new items on “Appointment of the judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal” and “Appointment of judges of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal” -- under the heading of “Organizational, administrative and other matters”.  The Assembly created the tribunals last year with its adoption of resolution 62/228, by which it established a two-tier formal system of administration of justice as part of the United Nations system-wide reform effort.

On other new items, the Assembly decided to postpone to a later date during the 2008 calendar year, consideration of whether to include an item on “Commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine (Holodomor)” to a later date consideration of whether to include an item on “Natural Resources and Conflict”.

The Assembly also postponed its consideration of traditional items on the “Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte” and “Observer status for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the General Assembly”.  It deferred to its sixty-fourth session, an item on the “Question of the Malagasy islands of Glorieuses, Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India”.

Breaking with past experience, the 192-member body did not hold a lengthy discussion on its traditional decision not to include on its agenda an item concerning Taiwan’s membership in the United Nations.  This year, the Assembly decided not to include the item entitled “Need to examine the fundamental rights of the 23 million people of the Republic of China [ Taiwan] to participate meaningfully in the activities of the United Nations specialized agencies”.

It also decided not to include an item on the “Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity on the aerial and naval military attack against the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by the present United States Administration in April 1986”.

With the adoption of its work programme and agenda (document A/63/250), the Assembly decided that its current session would recess on Tuesday, 16 December, and close on Monday, 14 September 2009.  It further decided that its General Debate would be held from Tuesday, 23 September, to Saturday, 27 September, and on Monday, 29 September.

Delivering a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General, a Secretariat official informed the Assembly that holding the general debate on Saturday had not been planned.  Resources totalling $98,500 related to overtime for meeting servicing staff would be required for a Saturday session.

The Assembly also set the meeting schedule for its Main Committees.  During the main part of the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would complete its work by Tuesday, 4 November; the Sixth Committee (Legal) by Friday, 14 November; the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by Friday, 7 November; the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by Tuesday, 25 November; the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) by Friday, 28 November; and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by Friday, 12 December 2008.

The Assembly will convene at 9 a.m. Monday, 22 September, for a high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs.

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For information media • not an official record