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UN Documentation: General Assembly

About the General Assembly Agenda

Key documents related to the agenda of a regular session of the General Assembly may:

  • provide details about the organization of the session
  • list previous documentation related to an item
  • help identify major documents expected for the session

All documents issued during a General Assembly session are assigned an agenda item

No documents are issued to the General Assembly without being assigned to an agenda item. 

The agenda item is listed on each General Assembly document. For most documents, it is found under the masthead.

Agenda item on a UN document

Some meetings may consider more than one agenda item. In meeting records, agenda items are indicated at the point of the discussion of the item, not necessarily on the first page of the document.

Preliminary List

For the session to begin in September, the preliminary list is issued in February for the following September.

It provides the proposed list of items to be included in the provisional agenda, some of which may be deleted or deferred.

The preliminary list is assigned the document number 50:

  • symbol pattern: A/session/50
  • example: A/71/50

Annotated List

The Annotated preliminary list is scheduled to be issued in June. It often comes out late, but is always issued prior to the opening of the session.

If it is issued after the Provisional Agenda, it carries the title: Annotated provisional agenda.

This document is assigned the document number 100:

The annotated preliminary list or annotated provisional agenda provides:

  • the history of each item proposed for inclusion on the agenda (1)
  • citation to related documents from the previous sessions (2)
  • documents expected to be submitted under the agenda item (3)

Show Agenda Item in the Annotated List:  (1) History (2) Selected documents from the previous sessions (3) Projects major documents.

Prior to the 65th session, the annexes to the annotated preliminary list included comprehensive lists of:

  • Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly
  • Non-permanent members of the Security Council
  • Members of the Economic and Social Council
  • States Members of the United Nations
  • Names of officers of the Main Committees (20th-64th sessions)

Since 2010 (65th session), annexes are linked from the Agenda page of the General Assembly website.

Provisional Agenda

The provisional agenda is issued at least sixty days before the opening of the session, in accordance with Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly.

The provisional agenda is assigned the document number 150:

  • symbol pattern: A/session/150
  • example: A/71/150

Memorandum of the Secretary-General

The memorandum of the Secretary-General is issued prior to the session and submitted to the General Committee.

This document provides:

  • background information on the organization of the session
  • consolidates information related to the provisional agenda
  • proposes the allocation of items to the plenary or the Main Committees

It is assigned the document number 1 in the documentation series of the General Committee (series symbol A/BUR/--):

    • symbol pattern: A/BUR/session/1
    • example: A/BUR/71/1

Report of the General Committee

The General Committee reviews the provisional agenda and issues a report that recommends to the Assembly which items to include in the agenda.

It also recommends allocation of items to the the plenary or to one of the six Main Committees.

Not every item listed in the provisional agenda is recommended for inclusion in the final agenda.

  • This report may indicate what happened to "missing" items, i.e. items found in the provisional, but not in the adopted, agenda.
  • Because of the deletion or deferral of some items, all items are renumbered.

The Report of the General Committee is assigned the document number 250:

Agenda

Once the agenda is adopted by the plenary, it is a list of all items to be considered at a session of the General Assembly, although additions may be made to the agenda during the session.

The agenda is assigned the document number 251:

Once the agenda is adopted, the item number on General Assembly documents will match the adopted agenda.

  • Some  documents, issued after the adoption of the agenda but in the "pipeline" at the time of adoption, may bear the item numbers from the provisional agenda.
  • Check the item number against the item title and do not rely on the number alone, especially in the transition period shortly after the adoption of the agenda.

Allocation of Agenda Items

The allocation of agenda items finalizes the recommendations made by the General Committee.

This document indicates whether the plenary or one of the Main Committees will have primary responsibility for review of the item during the session.

The allocation of agenda items is assigned the document number 252: