The General AssembLy and International Law
The General Assembly initiates studies and makes recommendations. It also prepares draft conventions and convenes international conferences with the task of discussing finalizing and adopting multilateral treaties. The Assembly is hereby supported by its subsidiary organs and special committees.
After their adaption, the conventions can be accepted by individual states by way of signing and ratifying.
The General Assembly also adopts declarations and resolutions. Although not legally binding, they are statements of principle. They are also a common standard of achievement with a strong moral and political value.
The Legal Committee - Sixth Committee
The Sixth Committee is one of the main committees of the General Assembly. Entrusted with the consideration of legal matters, it submits reports to the General Assembly on items allocated to it. The Committee also transmits draft resolutions for adoption in plenary sessions.
More on UN, general assembly and international law
- General Assembly resolutions from the 1st session (1946) onwards are published in different versions. The official text is published after each session as the last number in the series Supplements to the Official Records of the General Assembly.
- General Assembly resolutions. Information on the respective drafting Committee.
- More information on the documentation of the General Assembly.
- Sixth Committee documents are identified as A/C.6.
- Summary records of meetings from the Sixth Committee are issued as A/C.6/session number/SR.meeting number.
- The Sixth Committee submits a separate report to the General Assembly on every agenda item allocated to it. The original symbol (C.6) of the Sixth Committee then disappears and the document is transformed into a session document of the General Assembly.
- Resolutions drafted by the Sixth Committee can be retrieved from the General Assembly. Official Records. Supplement VII. Resolutions adopted of the reports of the Sixth Committee.
- Sixth Committee website:
- Information about present and previous sessions (from 1999 onwards).
- An overview of the agenda items allocated to the Sixth Committee from 1999 onwards.
- Press releases from the Sixth Committee carry the symbol: GA/L-.
- The United Nations Documents Index (online version UNBISnet) contains references to all documents from the Sixth Committee and the General Assembly.
- Speeches held in the Sixth Committee for a given year are listed in the Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly. Speeches can be searched in UNBISnet Index to Speeches.
- References to the reports submitted by the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly are contained in the Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly, in the section Reports of the Main and Procedural Committees.
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.