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UN Documentation: General Assembly

Main Committees

There are six Main Committees of the General Assembly.

Each committee deals with a particular topic and is allocated agenda items according to the topic. A report is issued to the plenary for each item allocated to a Main Committee.

All are committees of the whole: all UN member states participate in them.

They are all entitled to meeting record coverage.

From the 1st session (1946) through the 30th session (1975), General Assembly meetings and documents were consecutively numbered. At the 31st session, the symbols began to include the session number.

First Committee

Photos of First committee at work meetings.

The First Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to disarmament and international security.

  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Verbatim records, starting with the 22nd session, with the exception of the 48th session
  • Press release series symbol

The First Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolutions 69/68, 69/69, 69/70, 69/71, 69/72, 69/7369/74 and 69/75 based on the report of the First Committee (A/69/441).

Second Committee

Photos of Second committee at work meetingsThe Second Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to economic and financial matters.

  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Summary records
  • Press release series symbol

The Second Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • Identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolutions 69/209, 69/210, 69/211, 69/212 and 69/213 based on the report of the Second Committee (A/69/468).

Third Committee

Photos of Third Committee at work.

The Third Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to social, humanitarian and cultural matters, including human rights.

  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Summary records
  • Press release series symbol

The Third Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolutions 69/163, 69/164 and 69/165 based on the report of the Third Committee (A/69/487).

Fourth Committee

TOP: Mari Alkatiri, Secretary for External Relations of the Revolutionary Front for Independence of East Timor (Fretilin),speaking as a petitioner before the Committee. 22 October 1980. United Nations, New York. BELOW: Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, addressing the Fourth Committee. 14 November 2003. United Nations, New York.The Fourth Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to special political and decolonization matters, including peacekeeping.

  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Summary records
  • Press release series symbol

The Fourth Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it, including the item "comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations".

Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolution 70/92 based on the report of the Fourth Committee (A/70/499).

Historical note

Prior to the 48th session (1993), the Fourth Committee handled only decolonization questions. An additional Main Committee, the Special Political Committee (SPC), handled political questions.

  • symbol pattern: A/SPC/-
  • press release series symbol: GA/SPC/-

Until 1993, the SPC was listed in UN documents and publications after the First Committee. When the SPC and the Fourth Committee merged in accordance with General Assembly resolution 47/233, the Fourth Committee moved to the second spot. Today, in some publications such as the Journal, the order of the Committees is: First, Fourth, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth.

Fifth Committee

Member of the Fifth Committee at work.

The Fifth Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to administrative and budgetary matters.

  • Chapter IV, Article 17 of the UN Charter concerns the budget and finances;
  • General Assembly resolution 45/248 B, Sect. VI, reaffirmed the Fifth Committee's role in administrative and budgetary matters;
  • The Fifth Committee meets in 3 sessions throughout the year:

    • from September - December, during the General Assembly main session
    • in March of the following year in resumed session
    • in May for its second resumed session:
      • while the Committee may consider urgent matters relating to the financing of a peacekeeping mission authorized by the Security Council at any of its sessions, the second resumed session deals exclusively with administrative and budgetary aspects of UN peacekeeping
    • reviews reports of Secretary-General, ACABQ, and other bodies regarding budget and finances and reports to the plenary
    • the Links and Resources section of the website has useful information about the budget process and peacekeeping financing
  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Summary records
  • Press release series symbol 

The Fifth Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolutions 69/369/26269/263 and 69/274 based on the report of the Fifth Committee (A/69/422 + Add.1 + Add.2).

Sixth Committee

Delegates attending the first meeting of the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) for the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session. 08 October 2012. United Nations, New York

The Sixth Committee, one of the six Main Committees of the General Assembly, is allocated agenda items related to legal matters.

  • Document series symbol for working documents
  • Summary records
  • Press release series symbol 

The Sixth Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. Each report:

  • indicates the meetings at which the item was considered
  • summarizes the committee's consideration of the item
  • identifies the sponsors of draft resolutions
  • reports the vote, if any, of Member States on draft texts
  • transmits the final version of draft resolutions and/or decisions recommended to the plenary for adoption
  • symbol pattern

The plenary considers each report and votes on the draft resolutions or decisions it contains.

For example, the General Assembly adopted resolution 69/123 based on the report of the Sixth Committee (A/69/502).