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UN Photo /Joao Araujo Pinto

UN General Assembly

The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all member States and has a general mandate to discuss and make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN Charter.

Under Article 13 of the Charter, the General Assembly is specifically mandated to ‘initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of assisting in the realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion’.

The plenary regular session of the General Assembly runs from September to December, but can reconvene at any time during the year. Each year the General Assembly addresses over 150 agenda items, which are considered either in the plenary or in one of its six committees.

The Third Committee (Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian) addresses most agenda items relevant to human rights defenders, including women’s rights, children’s rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and the elimination of racism.

Numerous special procedures also report to the Third Committee on a number of these issues and engage in an interactive dialogue with States. After completing its work, the Third Committee submits draft resolutions to the General Assembly for final adoption.

Latest Updates

UNGA77: UN Expert calls on international community to protect LGBT communities and defenders during armed conflict

Widespread discrimination coupled with gaps in the international legal framework and risks in data collection increases violence against LGBT community and human rights defenders in conflict and post conflict situations, concludes the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in a dialogue with the UN Third Committee.

UNGA77: UN experts call for protection of human rights defenders in addressing environment and climate crises

In their Interactive Dialogues with States during the Third Committee of the General Assembly, Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change and on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment emphasised the critical role of defenders in addressing the environment and climate crises, urging States and non State actors to take measures to protect them.

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New manual aims to make violations against women human rights defenders and their activism visible

A landmark new manual for and about women human rights defenders has just been launched by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. Providing women human rights defenders with the tools to document their experience and that of colleagues, the manual aims at generating awareness about violations and abuses against defenders and supporting demands for human rights change.