7 August 2013, New York, USA – The 12th Youth Assembly, comprised of students from around the world aging from 16-22, gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. As part of their programme, they attended a simulation of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) New York Office workshop akin to the General Orientation course for new delegates to the General Assembly.

The workshop provided the Youth Assembly with a fundamental understanding of UNITAR’s mandate, and gave as an example the UNITAR NYO General Orientation Course for the 68th Session of the General Assembly. Just as permanent representatives and deputy permanent representatives participate in the UNITAR workshops, Dr. Boyan Belev, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations, introduced students to the United Nations main deliberative body, the General Assembly, and the six principal Committees that comprise it. He gave them an overview of the main bodies of the United Nations, explaining first that the General Assembly consists of 193 Member States each having one vote, and that there are six main Committees: Disarmament and International Security; Economic and Financial; Social, Humanitarian, Culture; Social, Political, and Decolonization; Administrative and Budget; and Legal.

The workshop went on to explain the functions of each Committee and the process by which Resolutions are adopted in the UN.  It explained how Committees consider issues before they are taken to the Plenary. An issue begins as an idea, often within one of the six Committees, on which a report is made explaining the issue and what might be done to solve it. A Member State then authors a Resolution on the issue and circulates it to the other Member States. The Resolution is then tabled at a meeting and adopted by consensus, after which it is submitted to the Plenary for a vote as a Resolution of the General Assembly.

Credit: Friendship Ambassadors Foundation.

The workshop also touched on problems faced in reaching consensus on certain Resolutions and the fact that at times similarly worded Resolutions are brought for a vote multiple times which makes for unnecessary repetition. Among other aspects, a new President of the General Assembly is elected each year, and that there is a rotation amongst regional groups in the election of the President to ensure that there is equal representation from around the world.

As a way of summarizing the short session, Ms. Raquel Villodres, an advisor at the UNITAR New York Office, gave the students a summary of the mission of UNITAR, telling them that it was created in 1963 by a Resolution endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. This Resolution called for the creation of a body to train diplomats, particularly those from developing and least developed countries, on the issues and functions of the UN system to help in their capacity building and diplomatic skills. The same was the purpose of the General Orientation Course for New Delegates that was presented to the Youth Assembly: to strengthen their capacity and provide them opportunities for learning and thinking critically about the multilateral system through training, research, and engagement.