Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 192 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.
The Main Committees of the General Assembly discuss the items, seeking where possible to harmonize the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration. The six Main Committees are as follows:
• First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee);
• Second Committee (Economic and Financial Committee);
• Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee);
• Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization Committee);
• Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Committee); and
• Sixth Committee (Legal Committee).
Policies and Programmes in DRR
Role in disaster risk reduction
View 2011 General Assembly DRR profile
General Assembly resolution A/RES/56/195 of 21 December 2001 (after review of the first 2 years of functioning of ISDR, as set out in the founding resolution of A/RES/54/219) stressed that “the inter-agency secretariat for the Strategy should be consolidated and enhanced to perform its functions effectively, in particular to serve as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster-reduction activities of the United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields;”
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction is considered under Second Committee agenda item 49 on sustainable development. Sustainable development deals also with the following issues relevant to disaster risk reduction:
• Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development;
• Follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States;
• Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind;
• Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa;
• Convention on Biological Diversity;
• Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its tenth special session.
Second Committee recommends to the General Assembly the adoption of one annual resolution on disaster risk reduction: International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and two biennial resolutions: Natural disasters and vulnerability, and International cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.
In 2010, the General Assembly resolution on International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (A/RES/64/200) recognized that certain measures for disaster risk reduction in the context of the Hyogo Framework for Action can also support adaptation to climate change, and emphasizing the importance of strengthening the resilience of nations and communities to natural disasters through disaster risk reduction programmes. It also stressed the importance of advancing the implementation of the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (“Johannesburg Plan of Implementation”) and its relevant provisions on vulnerability, risk assessment and disaster management.
The resolution invited increased efforts to support, implement and follow up the Hyogo Framework for Action, and stressed the importance in this regard of the continued cooperation and coordination of stakeholders at all levels with respect to addressing effectively the impact of natural disasters.
Issues related to International Strategy for Disaster Reduction are also referred to in the humanitarian resolutions of the Third Committee:
Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development; and
Strengthening emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and prevention in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster
The General Assembly resolution on United Nations Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2) decided the following:
“ We resolve therefore to adopt in all our environmental actions a new ethic of conservation and stewardship and, as first steps, we resolve:
To intensify cooperation to reduce the number and effects of natural and manmade disasters.”
The UNDRR participates in and organizes side events during the general debate of the General Assembly and in relation to thematic debates throughout the year.