Sixth Committee (Legal) — 76th session

Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (Agenda item 122)


Summary of work

Background (source: A/76/100/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, 72/313, 73/341, 74/303 and 75/325 and decisions 52/479, 53/491, 54/491, 74/537 A and B, 75/510 and 75/548 A and B).

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-fifth 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 26 delegations (see A/75/PV.25 and 26).

At the same session, the Assembly decided to establish, at its seventy-sixth and seventy-seventh sessions, 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 as well as on previous resolutions, with the primary focus on: (a) during the seventy-sixth session: role and authority of the Assembly, and working methods; and (b) during the seventy-seventh session: strengthening the accountability, transparency and institutional memory of the Office of the President of the Assembly and selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads; decided that the next resolution would be considered during the seventy-seventh session and biennially thereafter; invited Member States to continue discussions on efforts to limit the number of side events held in parallel with or in the margins of the general debate and other high-level sessions, with a view to taking stock and exploring further improvements, as necessary, during the seventy-eighth session of the Assembly; requested the President of the Assembly at its seventy-eighth session to draw lessons learned from the implementation of the provisions contained in paragraphs 13 to 18 and 32 to 44 of its resolution 75/325 and identify further proposals on alignment; decided to further assess during the seventy-seventh session of the Assembly the selection and appointment process of the Secretary-General, to consolidate the advances gained in the relevant Assembly resolutions and to explore possible steps to improve future processes, including the collaboration between the Assembly and the Security Council, consistent with Article 97 of the Charter; requested the Secretariat to provide to the Ad Hoc Working Group during the seventy-seventh session of the Assembly a written update with recommendations, and a briefing on the functioning of the Office of the President of the Assembly, as a follow-up to the report of the Task Force convened by the Secretary-General in November 2015 and circulated in the annex to the letter dated 11 March 2016 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Assembly (A/70/783), taking into consideration its previous relevant resolutions; and decided that the ad hoc working group should continue its review of the inventory of Assembly resolutions on revitalization annexed to the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group submitted at the seventy-fifth session and, as a result, continue to update the inventory to be attached to the reports to be submitted at the seventy-sixth and seventy-seventh sessions of the Assembly, including the separate indication of relevant provisions that were not implemented, with reasons therefor (resolution 75/325).

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-fifth session, the Assembly approved the provisional programme of work and timetable of the First Committee for 2021 (decision 75/520); the proposed programme of work and timetable of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) (decision 75/524); the draft programmes of work of the Second Committee (decision 75/547) and the Third Committee (decision 75/540); and the provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee (decision 75/527) for the seventy-sixth session of the Assembly.

Consideration at the seventy-sixth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 28th and 29th meetings, on 10 and 18 November 2021 (see A/C.6/76/SR.28 and A/C.6/76/SR.29).

Statements were made by the representatives of El Salvador and Mexico.

While the importance of preserving consensus in decision-making processes of the Sixth Committee was highlighted, it was also stressed that Committee should work through constructive dialogue aimed at making substantive progress which went beyond mere technical updates.

The need for further improving the dialogue between the Sixth Committee and the ILC was emphasized with a view to allowing delegations to make preliminary clarifications and comments on the work of the ILC. It was also highlighted that the Sixth Committee should restore and preserve a transparent institutional memory in compiling all proposals which helpfully identified ways of addressing the recommendations of the ILC to ensure that these substantive contributions would not be erased.

It was also suggested that the Secretariat could add a brief segment in the annual informative briefings prior to the start of the Sixth Committee to provide explanation on status of all ILC products under consideration of the Committee, so that delegations could better understand the cycle of considering those items and have a better approach in the way of doing the work in the Committee.

Archived videos and summaries of plenary meetings

Video   28th meeting (10 November 2021, 3:00pm – 6:00pm) | Summary

Video   29th meeting (18 November 2021, 10:00am – 1:00pm) | Summary

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 28th meeting, on 10 November, the Chair introduced a draft decision containing the provisional programme of work of the Committee for the seventy-sixth session of the General Assembly, as proposed by the Bureau (A/C.6/76/L.22).

At the 29th meeting, on 18 November, the Committee adopted the draft decision A/C.6/76/L.22 without a vote. 

Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-seventh session (2022).

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