United Nations General Assembly- Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs Committee


The Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs Committee (SOCHUM) is one of the six specialized subcommittees of the United Nations General Assembly and generally referred to as the Third Committee. It was established after the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The committee’s main task is to strive for better compliance to human rights in every region of this world and thus promote international peace and security.

Due to SOCHUM’s general mandate, the committee has the ability to discuss many topics presented to the UN. Most issues have a social or cultural aspect, allowing this committee to be involved in developing numerous solutions. Past topics include the protection of human rights, global literacy, the advancement of women and indigenous people and human rights issues in Iran, Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. SOCHUM plays thus an integral role in the UN as it works, protects and betters the lives of civilians.

Other issues discussed by SCOHUM include: treatment of refugees and displaced persons, rights of children, international drug prevention, crime prevention, and elimination of racism and racial discrimination, to name only a few. SOCHUM examines reports of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council but it can also conduct its own studies. It is important to note that the SOCHUM cannot demand action but only suggest that and what actions can and should be taken.

The Third Committee meets annually to discuss, form resolutions and vote on important issues. Each member nation is allotted one vote, and vote passes with simple majority. The Committee works closely with other UN bodies in order to be most effective in dealing with social concerns all over the world. These bodies include the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and several other subcommittees. SOCHUM can also request reports from other UN organizations.