Third Committee of the UN General Assembly
Under Article 13 of the United Nations Charter, the General Assembly is competent to initiate studies and make recommendations notably for the purpose of promoting international cooperation in the social, cultural, educational, and health fields, and to facilitate the enjoyment of realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by every individual without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. In practice these tasks are the responsibility of the Third Committee, in charge of social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, and which meets during the main part of the General Assembly’s ordinary session (September to December).
The Third Committee thus plays an essential role in the promotion of human rights. In addition to the adoption of specific resolutions, thematic or addressing the human rights situation in a given State, and the monitoring of major conferences in this field, it submits to the General Assembly, convened in plenary session, drafts of international conventions in the field of human rights. The General Assembly decides, if necessary, to open these to signing. The Human Rights Council may also submit the texts it has adopted to the General Assembly.
It can be noted that the wide membership of this UNGA committee sometimes allows for less controversial debate than within the HRC. Provided that its work is properly articulated with that of the HRC, it is important to maintain the Third Committee, notwithstanding occasional calls by certain states for its suppression.
Update : July 2010
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