You are here: UN General Assembly brief: a timetable for the first few weeks

Timetable and committees

The session starts on Tuesday 12. The start of the session includes a moment of silent reflection, and an address from the Secretary-General and new President of the General Assembly.

On Wednesday 13 the General Assembly forms a General Committee consisting of the President, Vice Presidents, and committee chairs. They come up with a draft programme of work, which is voted on by the General Assembly on Friday 15. This programme of work divides up the tasks of the General Assembly between its main body and its six committees:

Each UN member can have a representative on each committee. These committees, led by their chairs, work up proposals which they present to the General Assembly for a vote. The President of the General Assembly, in consultation with the General Committee, is responsible for managing the workload of the whole. On most issues, both within a committee and within the main or “plenary” session of the General Assembly a simple majority vote of those in attendance is required, but some issues, such as UN membership, require a 2/3rds majority.

What can we expect in the first few weeks?

UNGA does not meet on Monday 18 but a number of very important meetings will take place:

  • The opening of Climate week
  • The opening of Global Goals week
  • A “High-level meeting on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse: building momentum for change”, hosted by the Secretary-General with a small number of invited speakers, at which the UN will launch its idea of a voluntary compact for nations to assist in efforts to prevent Sexual Exploitation and Abuse between 1500 and 1630
  • A high level meeting chaired by President Donald Trump and featuring comments from the Secretary-General to discuss the United States’ agenda for reforming the United Nations

UNGA then meets for its “general debate” between Tuesday 19 and Monday 25. By tradition Brazil goes first (Brazil’s delegates were very effective in the very first General Assembly sessions in getting to the podium first, and the tradition stuck!). Then, as host, the US goes second. After that speaker order is by negotiation, but Heads of State (Presidents and Kings) tend to go first, followed by heads of government (Prime Ministers) followed by Foreign Ministers, followed by other diplomats. The debate organisers also try to ensure that there is a good geographic mix to the speaker order, and that speakers’ personal schedules and availability are taken into account.

Provisional timings are here. Highlights include:

  • Around 0915 Tuesday 19 Donald Trump
  • Around 1100 Tuesday 19 Emmanuel Macron
  • Around 1230 Tuesday 19 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Around 1245 Tuesday 19 Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Around 0930 Wednesday 20 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
  • Around 1030 Wednesday 20 Hassan Rouhani
  • Around 1100 Wednesday 20 Mahmoud Abbas
  • Around 1245 Wednesday 20 Theresa May

Notable absences: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nicolas Maduro, Angela Merkel, Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping.

There is also a potentially important discussion at the Security Council on Peacekeeping on the 20 September as well as a Signing Ceremony of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Tuesday 26 sees aHigh-level plenary meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.”

Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 will be taken up by a “high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons”. Every year the UN devotes a part of this week to a high level meeting to draw attention to a particular issue. This year that issue is human trafficking. More information can be found here. The subject is a priority for the UK, but it is unclear at present at what level the UK will be represented.

After that UNGA resumes its normal work. As UNGAs agenda is decided it will become clearer what issues will be discussed at what time, but we should expect:

  • The election of Human Rights Council members in October
  • The confirmation of the UN’s budget for 2018 to 2020 in December
  • The election of non-permanent Security Council members in June
  • The election of the next PGA and committee chairs in June
  • The confirmation of the peacekeeping budget in June/July

Practicalities

UNGA meets in the General Assembly hall of the UN Headquarters building in Turtle Bay, New York (760 United Nations Plaza, Manhattan, New York City, USA).

Information for delegates, including accreditation, is available in the delegates handbook here.

Information for the media, including accreditation (although the deadline has passed), is available here and in this press guide.

Social media assets can be found via the UN’s “VIP Social Media Space” on Trello. (We would also recommend you follow UNA-UK on Twitter @UNAUK and Facebook /UNAUK)

Further details can be found in the General Assembly’s “Information note for delegations”.

UNGA week will be broadcast live on:

You can obtain broadcast quality download links from the United Nations AV Library: avlibrary@un.org

For further queries contact UNTV News & Facilities - (212) 963-7650/7667 - untv@un.org / (914) 367-9231 - redi@un.org or visit https://www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/index.shtml.

Quick links: