Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly

Enhancing the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the General Assembly

In the declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations (resolution 75/1), the Heads of State and Government indicated they would ¡°upgrade¡± the United Nations. Working methods needed to keep pace and adapt. They committed to continue the work to revitalize the Assembly and requested the Secretary-General to report back with recommendations to advance ¡°our common agenda¡±. In his report entitled ¡°Our Common Agenda¡± (PDF document), welcomed by Member States in resolution 76/6, the Secretary-General outlined his recommendations.

In his report, the Secretary-General underlined that ¡°now is the time for a stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system, anchored within the United Nations. Effective multilateralism depends on an effective United Nations, one able to adapt to global challenges while living up to the purposes and principles of its Charter.¡± The recommendations contained in the report were the subject of discussions among Member States in 2022, when the President of the General Assembly convened informal meetings to discuss the report. The summaries of these informal meetings are available here (PDF document).

In resolution 76/307, the General Assembly, taking note of the summaries of the informal thematic consultations held under the auspices of the President of the Assembly and reaffirming the request to the Secretary-General contained in resolution 76/6 to inform Member States and to engage in broad and thematic consultations with them, decided to hold the Summit of the Future in September 2024, preceded by a preparatory ministerial meeting in September 2023.

In decision 77/568, the General Assembly decided that the scope of the Summit of the Future will encompass the following elements, and that these elements will be reflected in the outcome document, entitled ¡°A Pact for the Future¡±, comprising a chapeau and five chapters: as follows:

  1. Chapter I. Sustainable development and financing for development;
  2. Chapter II. International peace and security;
  3. Chapter III. Science, technology and innovation and digital cooperation;
  4. Chapter IV. Youth and future generations;
  5. Chapter V. Transforming global governance.

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Discussions from 1949 to today

Discussions on the Assembly¡¯s working methods and procedures have been held from the inception of the General Assembly itself. In 1949, ¡°mindful of the increasing length of General Assembly sessions, and of the growing tendency towards protracted debates¡±, the Assembly established the Special Committee on Methods and Procedures of the General Assembly (resolution 271 (III)). From the 46th session onwards, the Assembly¡¯s agenda has included a dedicated item on the revitalization of the work of the Assembly (decision 45/461). This item is allocated also to all Main Committees, for the purpose of discussing their working methods, as well as considering and taking action on their respective tentative programmes of work.

Since the 60th session, the Assembly has established the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. Its mandate was to ¡°to identify ways to further enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the General Assembly¡± (resolution 59/313). At subsequent sessions, the scope of the AHWG¡¯s work has included different areas, including ones related to: the agenda and working methods of the Assembly; the role and authority of the Assembly and its Main Committees; documentation; the Office of the President of the Assembly; and the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads. More than 200 outcomes have been recorded in 30 different areas.

At the 75th session, in resolution 75/325, the General Assembly gave further focus to the work of the AHWG and decided that the thematic focus of the AHWG would be on role and authority of the General Assembly, and working methods, at the 76th session , and on strengthening the accountability, transparency and institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly, and selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads. The Assembly also decided that a draft resolution would be considered by the Assembly at the 77th session and biennially thereafter. At the 76th session and subsequent even-numbered sessions, the primary focus would be on implementation of the resolution adopted at the 75th session.

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