The essential guide to UNGA 2019

5 min read

The 74th General Assembly of the United Nations met in New York in September 2019. Who was there? What was discussed? And what was achieved?

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What is UNGA?

UNGA is the acronym for the United Nations General Assembly, one of the six principal organs which make up the UN. It is an annual meeting of world leaders to discuss and debate the world’s most important global issues and how to address them.

When is UNGA?

The 74th session of UNGA ran from September 17-30. However, the General Debate and high-level meetings took place in the week beginning September 23, often called UN Week.

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Where is the United Nations General Assembly?

The main meetings will take place at the Headquarters of the United Nations in east Manhattan, New York City. The majority of the sessions will take place in the General Assembly Hall within the UN HQ complex, which can seat 1,800 people. 

Who will be attending UNGA?

Representatives from all 193 member states attend UNGA. The event is one of the most important meetings of the UN calendar, with heads of state from around the world expected to attend. UNGA is not to be confused with the UN Security Council, which currently consists of 15 members and meet year-round.

What happens at UNGA?

Members debate and make decisions on various issues raised during the assembly, on a wide range of topics, from human rights to education to conflicts. They all have the opportunity to vote on issues, such as new UN member states, budgeting, and resolutions for peace and security. Attendees also elect non-permanent members of the Security Council and approve the annual UN budget. Several hundred resolutions are likely to be passed during UNGA.

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What are the issues discussed at UNGA?

Many delegates will raise discussions in a number of areas, which are likely to fall into one or more of the following groups:

  • Climate and environment
  • Economic and sustainable development
  • Education
  • Health
  • Conflict and migration
  • Women and girls
  • Youth

What is the UN general debate?

It’s an opportunity for world leaders to address the assembly during UNGA. Each member state has a voluntary 15-minute time limit to speak in, although it’s common for speeches to last longer.

The General Debate is opened by the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the General Assembly. It usually lasts six days.

Who is the Secretary-General of the United Nations?

The current Secretary-General is António Guterres of Portugal. His role is to act as chair and moderator of United Nations’ meetings. During UNGA, Guterres will present the UN’s annual report.

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What else goes on in New York during UNGA?

Outside the General Assembly meetings within the UN HQ, there are hundreds of independent side events taking place around New York. These are organised and attended by the media, advocates, government advisers, business leaders and members of the public, where they can discuss issues and possible solutions.

Sideline events during UNGA 2019 included the Mashable Social Good Summit, the Global Citizen Festival, the Sustainable Investment Forum North America and the Concordia Annual Summit, among others.

How can I watch the UNGA discussions?

UN TV broadcast live streams from most of the sessions for the duration of UNGA.

What were the themes of UNGA 2019?

The theme of the General Debate was “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion”.