Adoption of Agenda and Work Programme

Adoption of the agenda

The adoption of the agenda (like the election of officers) is usually a formality, confirming the outcome of long preparations and consultations undertaken ahead of a GA Session or UN conference. Because agenda items are enshrined in tradition, it would be very unusual for any delegation to have any objection to the provisional agenda. In the case of Model UN simulations, given the time constraints, the provisional agenda needs to be decided in advance so that delegates have sufficient time to prepare their positions on the topics to be debated.

Nonetheless, it is worth pointing that the provisional agenda must be adopted at the beginning of a conference before deliberations can begin. The Rules of Procedure do allow delegations to propose amendments to the provisional agenda if they so choose but this would have to be submitted to a vote like any other amendment. While it is unlikely that this would occur, the possibility that it could occur underscores the power that lies with Member States to make all final decisions.

Work programme

For a conference of short duration the organization of work has to be decided in advance in consultation with others so that it can be formally agreed with little or no debate.

For a large conference, with a long agenda, the organization of work has essentially three aspects that need to be decided:
  • how many main committees are needed to enable the conference to complete its work in time
  • which agenda items will be allocated to which committee or handled directly in Plenary, and
  • a timetable in which the work will have to be performed, including the scheduling of any special events
Second Committee approves its programme of work Second Committee approves its programme of work

Considerable preliminary work is usually undertaken on these issues before the conference begins. In the case of the GA Plenary meetings, the process has been outlined in the description of the General Assembly in the Structure section of the UN Guide for MUN. And suggestions on how to incorporate this process in MUN simulations is outlined in the section on Decisions to Make Before the Conference. In the case of the PGA, he/she should consult with the General Committee.  Once the programme of work has been informally agreed, the Programme of Work is submitted to GA Plenary for adoption the first time they meet. Thereafter it is an important reference for all delegates.

Before leaving the topic of the opening session, we should also note that not only Plenary but each Committee also has an opening session at which it will adopt its own agenda and begin its work. The Chairman of each Committee will also have to prepare a programme of work, with the assistance of the secretariat and in consultation with delegations.