Rules of procedure

Annex V

Decision 34/401 on the rationalization of the procedures
and organization of the General Assembly (a)


A. General Committee

1. The General Committee should, at the outset of each session, consider how the work of the session can best be rationalized.

2. The General Committee should also meet periodically throughout the session to review the progress of work and to make recommendations to the General Assembly on the general programme of the session and on measures aimed at improving its work.

B. Schedule of meetings

3. Both plenary and committee meetings should begin at 10.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and, in order to expedite the work of the General Assembly, all meetings should begin promptly at the scheduled time.

C. Allocation of items

4. Substantive items should normally be discussed initially in a Main Committee and, therefore, items previously allocated to plenary meetings should henceforth be referred to a Main Committee unless there are compelling circumstances requiring their continued consideration in plenary meeting.

D. General debate

5. Out of consideration for the other speakers and in order to preserve the dignity of the general debate, delegations should refrain from expressing their congratulations in the General Assembly Hall after a speech has been delivered.

E. Explanations of vote

6. Explanations of vote should be limited to ten minutes.

7. When the same draft resolution is considered in a Main Committee and in plenary meeting, a delegation should, as far as possible, explain its vote only once, i.e., either in the Committee or in plenary meeting, unless that delegation's vote in plenary meeting is different from its vote in the Committee.

F. Right of reply

8. Delegations should exercise their right of reply at the end of the day whenever two meetings have been scheduled for that day and whenever such meetings are devoted to the consideration of the same item.

9. The number of interventions in the exercise of the right of reply for any delegation at a given meeting should be limited to two per item.

10. The first intervention in the exercise of the right of reply for any delegation on any item at a given meeting should be limited to ten minutes and the second intervention should be limited to five minutes.

G. Non-utilization of the rostrum

11. Explanations of vote, interventions in the exercise of the right of reply and procedural motions should be made by delegations from their seats.

H. Budgetary and financial questions

12. It is imperative that Main Committees should allow sufficient time for the preparation of the estimate of expenditures by the Secretariat and for its consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee and that they should take this requirement into account when they adopt their programme of work.

13. Furthermore:

I. Reports of the Main Committees

14. Reports of the Main Committees should be as concise as possible and, save in exceptional cases, should not contain a summary of the debates.

15. The practice of dealing in plenary meeting with reports of the Second Committee, whereby it is stated that the positions of delegations regarding draft resolutions recommended by the Second Committee have been made clear in the Committee and are reflected in the relevant official records, should be extended to reports of other committees.

J. Balloting procedure

16. The practice of dispensing with the secret ballot for elections to subsidiary organs when the number of candidates corresponds to the number of seats to be filled should become standard and the same practice should apply to the election of the President and Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly, unless a delegation specifically requests a vote on a given election.

K. Concluding statements

17. To save time at the end of the session, the practice of making concluding statements in the General Assembly and its Main Committees should be dispensed with except for statements by the presiding officers.


18. Before the conclusion of a session of the General Assembly, regional groups should agree on the distribution of chairmanships among them for the following session.

19. Candidates for the chairmanships of the Main Committees should be nominated as soon as possible.

20. It is strongly recommended that nominees for the chairmanships of the Main Committees should have experience in the work of the General Assembly.

21. During sessions, the Chairmen or other officers of the Main Committees should be entrusted by their Committees, whenever appropriate, with the conduct of informal negotiations aimed at reaching agreement on specific issues.

22. Chairmen of Main Committees should fully exercise their authority under rule 106 of the rules of procedure and, in particular, propose more frequently the limitation of the time to be allowed to speakers or of the number of times each representative may speak on any given item.

23. The Main Committees which require the largest number of meetings should be encouraged to hold more meetings early in the session in order to ensure a better distribution of meetings over the whole session.


24. Subsidiary organs should be required to complete their work at the latest by 1 September, so that their reports may be available in all the working languages in time for consideration by the opening of the session of the General Assembly, and the Committee on Conferences should take this provision fully into account.

25. No reports should contain a compilation of other previous documents.

26. Subsidiary organs should not annex to their reports summary records of their meetings or other material which were already distributed to all Member States.

27. The General Assembly should review periodically the need for summary records of its subsidiary organs.

28. The General Assembly, including its Main Committees, should merely take note of those reports of the Secretary-General or subsidiary organs which do not require a decision by the Assembly and should neither debate nor adopt resolutions on them, unless specifically requested to do so by the Secretary-General or the organ concerned.

29. The publication of reports of the principal organs and of subsidiary organs of the General Assembly and of draft resolutions and amendments should be given priority over that of any individual communications received from Member States.

30. Member States should refrain, to the extent possible, from requesting the circulation of any individual communications as documents of the General Assembly and in lieu thereof, where circulation of such documents is desired, should, as far as possible, request such circulation under the cover of a note verbale in the official languages in which they submit them.


31. Subsidiary organs reporting to the General Assembly should make every effort to submit draft resolutions in order to facilitate the consideration of the items.

32. Whenever possible, resolutions requesting the discussion of a question at a subsequent session should not call for the inclusion of a separate new item and such discussion should be held under the item under which the resolution was adopted.


33. The Committee on Conferences should be authorized to play a more effective role in the planning of meetings and in the use of conference facilities.

34. No subsidiary organ of the General Assembly should be permitted to meet at United Nations Headquarters during a regular session of the Assembly, unless explicitly authorized by the Assembly.

[This section, which related mostly to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee
on Subsidiary Organs, has not been reproduced in the present annex]


(a) Adopted by the General Assembly at its 4th, 46th, 82nd and 99th plenary meetings, on 21 September, 25 October, 29 November and 12 December 1979, on the recommendations of the General Committee. Section VI of the decision, which related mostly to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Subsidiary Organs, has not been reproduced in the present annex.

Back to Contents

Quick Links

Key Documents