Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (Agenda item 123)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100/Add.1)

At its forty-fifth session, the General Assembly, under the item entitled “Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations”, decided to include in the draft agenda of the forty-sixth session the item entitled “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (decision 45/461). The Assembly had the item on its agenda at its forty-sixth to forty-eighth and fifty-second sessions and has had the item on its agenda annually since its fifty-third session (resolutions 46/77, 47/233, 48/264, 55/285, 56/509, 57/301, 58/126, 58/316, 61/292, 62/276, 63/309, 64/301, 65/315, 66/294, 67/297, 68/307, 69/321, 70/305, 71/323 and 72/313 and decisions 52/479, 53/491 and 54/491).

At its fifty-eighth session, the Assembly decided that, in July of each year, the General Committee would conduct a review of the proposed programme of work for the forthcoming session of the Assembly, on the basis of a report submitted by the Secretary-General, and submit recommendations on the matter to the Assembly at its forthcoming session; and that the report would include information on the status of documentation to be issued during the forthcoming session (resolution 58/316).

At its seventy-second session, the Assembly considered the item in a joint debate, with the item entitled “Implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations”, where statements were made by the President and 17 delegations (see A/72/PV.48 and 54). The Assembly decided to establish, at its seventy-third session, an ad hoc working group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, open to all Member States, to identify further ways to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the Assembly, inter alia, by building on the progress achieved in past sessions of the Assembly as well as on previous resolutions, including evaluating the status of their implementation, and to submit a report thereon to the Assembly at its seventy-third session; requested the Secretary-General to submit an update on the provisions of the Assembly resolutions on revitalization addressed to the Secretariat for implementation that have not been implemented, with an indication of the constraints and reasons behind any lack of implementation, for further consideration by the Ad Hoc Working Group at the seventy-third session; requested each Main Committee to further discuss its working methods at the beginning of every session and invited the Chairs of the Main Committees to brief the Ad Hoc Working Group at the seventy-third session on any best practices and lessons learned with a view to improving such working methods as appropriate; and requested the Secretary General to submit to the seventy-third session of the Assembly a report on the possible alternative dates for the beginning of the regular session of the Assembly and its financial and logistical implications, as well as on potential benefits and shortcomings of various options, based on the premise that any such change will not bear an effect on the beginning of the general debate in September (resolution 72/313).

Since its sixtieth session, pursuant to resolution 58/316 and in order to facilitate the work of the Main Committees, the Assembly has decided annually, on the recommendation of the General Committee, to allocate the item to all the Main Committees for the purpose of discussing their working methods, as well as considering and taking action on their respective tentative programmes of work. Accordingly, at its seventy-second session, the Assembly approved the provisional programme of work and timetable of the First Committee for 2018 (decision 72/516); the proposed programme of work and timetable of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) (decision 72/521); the programmes of work of the Second Committee (decision 72/544) and the Third Committee (decision 72/536); and the provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee (decision 72/528) for the seventy-third session of the Assembly.

Consideration at the seventy-third session

At its 3rd plenary meeting, on 21 September 2018, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the General Committee, decided to allocate the item to all the Main Committees for the purpose of discussing their working methods and considering and taking action on their respective tentative programmes of work for the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly.

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 34th and 35th meetings, on 6 and 13 November 2018 (see A/C.6/73/SR.34 and 35).

Statements were made by the representatives of: El Salvador (also on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Nicaragua, Mauritius, Uruguay, Oman, Peru, Slovakia, the Sudan, Barbados and Mexico.

Some delegations considered the revitalization of the General Assembly to be of paramount importance for strengthening the role and authority of the General Assembly and called for full and timely implementation of previous General Assembly resolutions on revitalizing the work of the organization. Some delegations stressed the need to avoid scheduling conflicts between the plenary sessions of the General Assembly and meetings of subsidiary bodies to ensure inclusiveness and efficiency of the work of the organization. The principle of multilingualism under which all six official languages should be treated equally was highlighted.

Several delegations encouraged the Secretary-General to take effective measures for the fair and equitable distribution of the posts throughout the organization, including senior posts, in accordance with gender and geographical balance, while ensuring the highest standard of efficiency, competence and integrity. Several delegations also stressed the need to maintain the institutional memory of the President of the General Assembly.

Some delegations welcomed the new IT changes to e-deleGATE portal and electronic co-sponsorship system, as well as the sharing of provisional list of speakers before meetings. The improvement in e-deleGATE portal which allowed circulation of draft resolutions by coordinators to all delegates was also recognized. Several delegations called for further efforts in streamlining the oral statements during the debate on the Report of the International Law Commission, including setting time limits for statements.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   34th meeting (6 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   35th meeting (13 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 35th meeting, on 13 November, the Chair introduced a draft decision containing the provisional programme of work of the Committee for the seventy-third session of the General Assembly, as proposed by the Bureau (A/C.6/73/L.27). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted the draft decision A/C.6/73/L.27 without a vote.

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fourth session (2019).

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