General Debate

During the sixty-second session, the annual general debate, which provides Member States the opportunity to express their views on major international issues, will begin on Tuesday, 25 September, and will last until Wednesday, 3 October 2007. At the same time, the debate will be held under an overarching theme, "Responding to climate change", that was proposed by the President of the sixty-second session. The practice of selecting a specific issue of global concern for the session goes back to 2003, when the General Assembly decided to introduce this innovation in an effort to enhance the authority and role of the body (resolution 58/126 of December 2003).

Rather than its usual period of nine working days (as called for in resolution 57/301 of March 2003), this year's general debate will last seven working days to allow for the convening of a High-level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace, which will take place on 4 and 5 October 2007.

The Secretary-General will present his report on the work of the Organization immediately prior to the general debate, a practice that began with the fifty-second session.

Six Main Committees

With the close of the general debate, the Assembly begins consideration of the substantive items on its agenda. Because of the great number of questions it is called upon to consider (156 agenda items at the sixty-first session, for example), the Assembly allocates to its six Main Committees items relevant to their work. The Committees discuss the items, seeking where possible to harmonize the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration.

The six Main Committees are: the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee), concerned with disarmament and related international security questions; the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), dealing with a variety of political subjects not covered by any other Committee or the plenary, including the question of decolonization; the Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee), concerned with economic questions; the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee), which deals with social and humanitarian issues; the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee), which is concerned with the administration and budget of the United Nations; and the Legal Committee (Sixth Committee), which deals with international legal matters.

On a number of agenda items, however, such as the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly acts directly in its plenary meetings.

Working groups of the General Assembly

The General Assembly has, in the past, authorized the establishment of working groups to focus on matters of importance in more detail and make recommendations to the Assembly for action. A working group on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council, established by Assembly resolution 48/26 of 3 December 1993, remained active during the sixty-first session. This working group is expected to continue its work during the sixty-second session.

Regional groups

Over the years, various informal regional groupings have evolved in the General Assembly as vehicles for consultation and to facilitate procedural work. The groups are: the African States; the Asian States; the Eastern European States; the Latin American and Caribbean States; and the Western European and other States. The post of President of the General Assembly rotates among the regional groups. For the sixty-second session, the President has been elected from the Group of Eastern European States.

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