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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

Volker Türk to be appointed next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights after opaque nomination process

A week after the end of Michelle Bachelet’s term, States in New York were notified late last night that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres intends to seek approval for the appointment of Volker Türk of Austria as the next High Commissioner for Human Rights during a meeting today (8 September). In all previous appointments, the Secretary-General's recommended candidate has been approved by consensus (without a vote).

HRC Elections for Eastern European States vacant seat

After the suspension of Russia’s membership at the HRC, the GA will hold elections for the vacant seat. ISHR publishes today the scorecard for the Czech Republic which declared its candidature for the vacant seat to be filled by the Group of Eastern European States.

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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.