General Assembly Affairs Branch
Central to all work at United Nations Headquarters in New York is the General Assembly, an organ of the United Nations Charter (Chapter IV, articles 9-22) and consisting of all Member States, currently 193. The questions discussed in the Assembly touch on almost every aspect of public life today – international peace and security, disarmament, economic development, social and humanitarian affairs, and international law, among others. Recent special conferences of the Assembly have covered topics as diverse as the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (20-22 September 2010), biodiversity (22 September 2010), and climate change (22 September 2009). In many different ways the work of the Assembly has a profound impact on today’s world, and the Branch is behind the scenes in all that work.
The Branch plans and organizes the activities of the General Assembly – the annual regular session and the special and emergency special sessions, as well as conferences on many different topics held under United Nations auspices at Headquarters. Prior to these meetings, the Branch provides advice to Member States through information notes, the Delegate’s Handbook (which is issued before the opening of each regular session), and the preparation and issuance of reports of the General Committee. The Branch also drafts all versions of the agenda of the Assembly and its programme of work. Further, it provides technical secretariat services to the plenary of the Assembly, where all Members join in a common forum for deliberation, as well as smaller groups such as the General Committee, which consists of the Assembly’s officers, and various ad hoc working groups that are established to investigate specific issues of concern to the United Nations and therefore to the international community. The Branch takes a substantive role in preparations for thematic debates and other special events of the Assembly, and it is responsible for administering elections held in the plenary, including the election of non-permanent members of the Security Council, members of the Economic and Social Council, and members of other United Nations councils and organs.
In addition to providing technical and substantive support services to the General Assembly and other bodies, the Branch, together with the Office of the Director, assists the Office of the President of the General Assembly on a number of key issues, which include:
- review of the work and functioning of the Human Rights Council;
- Security Council reform;
- modalities of a world youth conference;
- revitalization of the work of the Assembly;
- strengthening of the Economic and Social Council;
- high-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases;
- high-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS;
- strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations.
Following the conclusion of the main part of the General Assembly session and after extensive consultations with other departments within the Secretariat, the Branch examines all mandates (resolutions and decisions) that have been adopted and indicates the responsibility for their implementation.
Last Update: 26 September 2011 / Henry BREED