What happened during the 19th session of the General Assembly?
Last Updated: Jul 19, 2019
The 19th session (1964-1965) of the General Assembly was unusual in many ways. The Assembly only met in plenary, neither vice-presidents nor chairs of the main committees were elected, no agenda was adopted, no votes were held, relatively few meetings were held (46, A/PV.1286 - A/PV.1331), and relatively few resolutions were adopted (14, A/RES/1994(XIX) - A/RES/2007(XIX)).
Many factors contributed to the situation in the 19th session. Differences between Member States over peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and the Congo led to instability in the organization. During the early 1960s, some states refused to pay their assessed contributions and the UN faced a financial crisis. In 1961, the General Assembly requested an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on "Certain Expenses of the United Nations". By 1964, with several states possibly facing the loss of voting rights within the General Assembly (A/5810 and Add.1), the opening of the 19th session of the General Assembly was postponed while negotiations continued about how to proceed (A/5773).
On 1 December 1964, addressing the opening meeting of the General Assembly, Secretary-General U Thant mentioned that "there is an understanding to the effect that issues other than those that can be disposed of without objection will not be raised while the general debate proceeds" (A/PV.1286). Following the general debate, the Assembly largely confined its deliberations to procedural matters, such as elections, and adopted all decisions and resolutions without vote.
In order to resolve the differences which arose around the question of peacekeeping, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was established (A/RES/2006 (XIX)). The Special Committee was charged to undertake a "comprehensive review of the whole question of peace-keeping operations in all their aspects, including ways of overcoming the present financial difficulties of the Organization".
For a more extensive summary of the 19th session, see "The situation arising out of differences of principle about the establishment, conduct and financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations" in the 1964 Yearbook of the UN, p. 3-60.
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