The Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly has a relatively unique mandate, in that it is both highly specific, and at the same time very general. 

By statute, topics discussed in the 4thcommittee are limited to those pertaining to self-determination, decolonization, and “special political” issues. Where the first two categories are quite easily defined, the broad mandate of “special political” topics allows the committee to discuss a wide range of other issues, including those often reserved for the Security Council. 

In practice, the Council often refers discussions to the 4thcommittee, when it feels that a given issue requires the input of the international community. This has led to the Committee discussing such matters as the peaceful use of outer space, the reform of the United Nations, and the Palestinian question – indeed, it was that question which was the 4th committee’s first task, in 1947.