The General Assembly this afternoon decided to establish the post of Deputy Secretary-General to help manage Secretariat operations and raise the United Nations profile and leadership in the economic and social spheres, and strengthen it as a leading centre for development policy and assistance.
It took this action as it adopted without a vote a 10-part resolution on United Nations reform. The text, submitted by Assembly President Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), covers a wide range of measures proposed by the Secretary- General, including new approaches to policy formulation; peace, security and disarmament; economic and social affairs; development cooperation; humanitarian affairs; financing the Organization management and longer-term changes. The President noted that it was the second resolution on United Nations reform adopted by the current session of the Assembly.
The Secretary-General said the post of deputy would be vital to the Secretariat's new leadership and management structure. He would move immediately to make an appointment, following consultations with Member States, and added, "I very much hope she will join us early in the new year".
The Secretary-General said the Assembly had made major strides to start the revitalization process necessary if the United Nations were to thrive in the twenty-first century. The provisions of the resolution on peace and security would support efforts to prevent conflicts and endorse steps to enhance the Organization's rapid deployment capacity.
He spoke of the decision to establish a development account funded by administrative savings, and said it reaffirmed a collective commitment to efficiency as well as the priority of economic and social development. By adopting the resolution, the Assembly had expressed its willingness to further rationalize intergovernmental machinery including the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and several of its subsidiary organs.
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The Assembly President said the action by Member States was a vivid example of the Organization's ability, particularly the Assembly, to adapt to the changing international environment, find adequate responses to new challenges and successfully transform its activities. It would also send a strong positive message to the outside world and general public, thus strengthening the Organization's role and enhancing its capacity to effectively carry out the functions enshrined in the Charter.
Statements were also made by Botswana, Ireland.
Explanations of position were made by Cuba, Iran, Russian Federation, United States, United Republic of Tanzania (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries) China, Japan, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg (for the European Union and associated States), Senegal, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia (also for Canada and New Zealand), Algeria, India and Libya.
In other action this afternoon, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General continue efforts to develop plans for national reconstruction and rehabilitation in Afghanistan. In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly also asked the United Nations to coordinate its humanitarian assistance to the country and to ensure a consistent approach to human rights.
By the terms of a decision on non-governmental organizations, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General circulate, no later than the end of its current session, a report on existing arrangements and practices for the interaction of non-governmental organizations in all United Nations activities.
The Assembly will meet again at 4 p.m. on Monday, 22 December, to take up the reports of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider measures and proposals for United Nations reform. It had before it the Secretary- General's report entitled, "Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform", and a related draft resolution. The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution on Afghanistan and a draft decision on strengthening the United Nations system.
United Nations Reform
The report of the Secretary-General (document A/51/950 and Add 1-7) proposes the establishment of a new Secretariat leadership and management structure; the consolidation of United Nations operations at the country level; and a thorough overhaul of human resources policies, practices and methods to bring financial solvency to the Organization. The Secretary- General also suggests ways to streamline the work of intergovernmental bodies, particularly the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Further, his report advances "a new concept of Trusteeship" and proposes a "Millennium General Assembly" and a companion "People's Millennium Assembly" to deal with future challenges.
The proposals encompass the United Nations five core missions around which the Secretary-General has already restructured the Secretariat's substantive work programme -- peace and security; economic and social affairs; development cooperation; humanitarian affairs; and human rights. Key substantive issues include promotion of development as a central priority and the creation of a "dividend for development"; strengthening international efforts to combat crime, drugs and terrorism; extension of the Organization's human rights activities; advancement of the international disarmament agenda; and strengthening of the world community's response to humanitarian needs.
The Secretary-General's initiatives also address the structure and functioning of the Organization, particularly its ability to act as a whole. Their starting point, as they pertain to the United Nations Secretariat, is "core institutional problems". (For a summary of the report and Addendums 1 to 6, see Press Releases SG/2037-ORG/1239 of 16 July and GA/9354/Rev.1 of 12 November.) In Addendum 7, the Secretary-General proposes designating the General Assembly session in the year 2000 a "Millennium Assembly", with a summit reviewing the role of the United Nations in relation to the prospects and challenges of the future. The high-level segment of the Millennium Assembly could be called the "Millennium Summit". Activities mandated by Member States for the year 2000 include a special session of the Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development; a high-level plenary review to appraise and assess progress in implementing the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and the Beijing Platform of Action five years after its
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adoption; and the tenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. A third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries might also be held. The Millennium Assembly could be the culmination of national, regional and interregional activities and events that review and assess strategies and policies in pursuit of peace, progress and social justice.
It would be essential to ensure high-level participation at the Millennium Summit. The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of the attendance of Heads of State and/or Government. The Summit's deliberations would provide the United Nations with the guidance it needs as it enters the twenty-first century.
The 10-part draft resolution (A/52/L.72/Rev.1), submitted by the President of the Assembly covers the establishment of the post of Deputy Secretary-General; new approaches to policy formulation; peace, security and disarmament; economic and social affairs; development cooperation; humanitarian affairs; financing the Organization; management and longer-term changes.
By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide to establish the post of Deputy Secretary-General, who in accordance with the existing system of decision-making, would assist the Secretary-General in managing the Secretariat's operations, and act for him at Headquarters in his absence and in other cases as decided by the Secretary-General.
The Deputy Secretary-General would also support the Secretary-General in ensuring intersectoral and inter-institutional coherence of activities and programmes, and in elevating the Organization's profile and leadership in the economic and social spheres, including further efforts to strengthen the United Nations as a leading centre for development policy and assistance. He would represent the Secretary-General at conferences, official functions and ceremonial and other occasions and undertake such assignments as decided and determined by the Secretary-General.
The Assembly would also note that the Secretary-General would appoint the Deputy Secretary-General following consultations with Member States and according to Article 101 of the Charter (which governs the appointment of staff and that his term would not exceed the Secretary-General's).
New Approaches to Policy Formulation
The Assembly would decide to continue during its present session its in-depth consideration of the item entitled "Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly", taking into account the report to be submitted by the
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Secretary-General in accordance with resolution 51/241 (relating to the report of a high-level working group on the strengthening of the United Nations system).
Peace, security and disarmament
The Assembly would decide that the Disarmament Commission and the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) should review their work, to be concluded before the end of the present session, with a view to its revitalization, rationalization and streamlining, taking into account discussions that have already taken place on this issue.
It would invite Member States to improve the supply of information to the Secretary-General that could assist the Organization to prevent conflict and maintain international peace and security in full accordance with the provisions of the Charter. It would also endorse the recommendation that the Security Council, in establishing a future peacekeeping operation, should prescribe a time-frame for the conclusion of the status-of-forces agreement between the United Nations and the host Government for the operation in question and that, pending the conclusion of such an agreement, a model status-of-forces agreement would apply provisionally unless otherwise agreed by the parties concerned, and invite the Council to consider the matter.
Economic and Social Affairs
The Assembly would invite the Economic and Social Council to consider, at its organizational and substantive sessions in 1998, as part of the review of the mandates, composition, functions and working methods of its functional commissions and expert groups and bodies, the recommendations of the Secretary-General relating to the reform of its subsidiary bodies, including a time-frame for implementation of its decisions thereon, and his recommendations on the Council's organization and methods of work, and to report to the Assembly as early as possible during its present session. (The Secretary-General's recommendations -- in Addendum 2 to his report -- included an outline for consideration of certain subsidiary bodies of the Council.)
It would also invite the Council, in consultation with Member States and appropriate intergovernmental regional bodies, to conduct a general review of the regional economic commissions at its substantive session of 1998 and to submit a report to the Assembly before the end of its present session. Also, it would endorse the recommendation of the Secretary-General to discontinue the High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development.
The Assembly would recognize the urgent need for resources for development on a predictable, continuous and assured basis and request the Secretary-General to submit, by the end of March 1998, for consideration by
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the Assembly, specific proposals for the establishment of a new system of core resources, taking into account the views expressed by Member States.
It would also accept that management of funds and programmes would be enhanced by greater integration of intergovernmental oversight, and request the Economic and Social Council to consider arrangements for closer integration of the governance oversight of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The Assembly would decide to establish a humanitarian affairs segment of the Economic and Social Council, effective from 1998, and request the Council to consider expeditiously the related practical arrangements and make an early recommendation to the Assembly, without prejudice to the work of the other segments of the Council. It would further decide to designate the Emergency Relief Coordinator as the United Nations Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, who would retain responsibility for coordination of natural disaster relief.
It would also decide to transfer to the UNDP the responsibilities of the Emergency Relief Coordinator for operational activities for natural disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness, with the understanding that the resources for this task be separate and additional to the resources of UNDP for development activities, and that they would be provided by a grant from the United Nations regular budget for 1998-1999. It would ask the Secretary-General to submit, before the end of the Assembly's present session, a report on the method of financing of natural disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities beyond 1998-1999.
Financing the Organization
The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General, taking into account the views of Member States, to submit by the end of March 1998, detailed proposals for the proposed establishment of a Revolving Credit Fund. It would take note of the Secretary-General's recommendation that any unspent balances under the regular budget at the end of the fiscal period be retained, and invite the competent bodies to consider the implications of such retention, and the appropriate use of such balances, including allocation to development programmes, on the basis of a report to be submitted by the Secretary-General to the Assembly, before the end of its present session. (The Secretary- General, in Addendum 4 to his report, proposes using the Fund to finance newly arising overdue assessment payments of Member States.)
The Assembly would decide to establish, in the programme budget for 1998-1999, a development account to be funded from savings from possible
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reductions in administration and other overhead costs, without affecting full implementation of mandated programmes and activities. It would request the Secretary-General to submit a detailed report by the end of March 1998. It would also decide to examine the Secretary-General's recommendation on initiating a review of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), and ask the competent intergovernmental bodies to consider the modalities for such a review and to report to it before the end of its present session.
The Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's recommendation to shift United Nations programme budgeting towards a system of results-based budgeting, and ask him to submit a more detailed report, including a full explanation for the proposed change, and the methodology to be used, and a mock-up of one or more sections of the budget for consideration before the end of the present Assembly session. (According to Addendum 6, results-based budgeting focuses more on results to be achieved and less on how the money is to be spent within the overall allocation.)
Further, the Assembly would note that the Secretary-General had submitted the draft code of conduct to the Assembly, and would agree to expedite its consideration. (The code of conduct would govern the performance of civil servants.)
The Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to elaborate his United Nations reform proposals, taking into account the views of Governments, and to present them to the Assembly by the end of March 1998. Those proposals relate to: a new concept of trusteeship; a Millennium Assembly; a Millennium Forum (a separate companion event of representatives of civil society); the United Nations system (a Special Commission at the ministerial level to examine the need for possible amendments to the Charter and the treaties from which the specialized agencies derive their mandates); and provisions whereby initiatives that involve new mandates and institutional machinery would be subject to specific time-limits that would require explicit review and renewal by the Assembly ("sunset provisions"). Finally, the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its next session the item entitled "United Nations reform: measures and proposals".
By the terms of a two-part draft resolution, which deals with both emergency assistance to Afghanistan and the Afghan situation's implications for international peace and security (document A/52/L.68), the Assembly would call upon all Afghan parties to cease immediately all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage, without preconditions, in a political dialogue aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict. In so doing, the Assembly would stress that the main responsibility for
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finding a political solution to the conflict lies with the Afghan parties, and would urge them to respond to the repeated United Nations calls for peace.
The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue efforts to develop plans for national reconstruction and rehabilitation, beginning in the areas of peace and security, and call upon the United Nations to coordinate its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, in particular to ensure a consistent approach to human rights. The leaders of all Afghan parties would be called upon to place the highest priority on national reconciliation.
Supporting the Secretary-General's efforts to reach a lasting political settlement, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to authorize the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan to continue its support for national reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, resulting in an immediate and durable cease-fire and leading to the formation of a fully representative, broad-based transitional government of national unity. All Afghan parties would be called upon to cooperate fully with the Special Mission, and ensure the safety and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel.
Calling upon all States to refrain from any outside interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the Assembly would condemn foreign military support to the Afghan parties. It would call on all States concerned to immediately end the supply of arms, ammunition, military equipment, training or any other military support to all parties to the conflict including the presence and involvement of foreign military personnel. It would also encourage the Secretary-General to pursue preliminary studies on the viability of an effective arms embargo.
The Assembly would denounce the continuing discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan, and call upon all Afghan parties to respect fully the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, in particular of women and girls. It would request the Secretary-General to continue to investigate fully reports about mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians and incidents of rape in Afghanistan and to include his findings in his next related report.
The Assembly would urgently appeal to all States, organizations and the United Nations system to provide all possible financial, technical and material assistance for the restoration and reconstruction of Afghanistan; and for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. Also, the international community would be called upon to respond to the inter-agency consolidated appeal for emergency humanitarian and rehabilitation assistance for Afghanistan.
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A report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) (document A/52/740) informs the Assembly that if it adopts the draft resolution an additional appropriation of $4,007,700 would be required under section 3 of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999. An additional appropriation of $327,300 would also be required under section 32 (staff assessment) to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, (income from staff assessment). These requirements will be considered in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999.
Strengthening United Nations System
By the terms of the draft decision on non-governmental organizations (document A/52/L.71), sponsored by Canada, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to prepare and circulate no later than the end of its current session, for consideration and action at its next session, a report on existing arrangements and practices for the interaction of non-governmental organizations in all United Nations activities; the legal and financial implications of modifications in the current arrangements for participation of non-governmental organizations to enhance their participation in the United Nations; and the participation of non-governmental organizations from all regions, particularly from developing countries.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly President announced that the following countries had become co-sponsors of the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for peace and security: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Malta, Morocco, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the resolution on Afghanistan.
ROSS HYNES (Canada), introducing the draft decision on non-governmental organizations, said the draft reflected a balance of views on the matter. Progress could best be achieved on a sound foundation of information and analysis. That was the essential purpose of the draft decision. At a conference on non-governmental organizations, the Secretary-General had spoken of the commitment and contribution non-governmental organizations had made to the United Nations and of the need to deepen ties with them. Hopefully, the Secretary-General's report, requested by the draft decision, would significantly advance that goal. The Group of African States and the Group of Arab States had made contributions towards the draft. Their commitment and the commitment of other States augured well for efforts to strengthen collaboration between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
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The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the decision on non- governmental organizations.
The Assembly President then adjourned the meeting until 4:30 p.m.
When the meeting resumed, the President, HENNADIY UDOVENKO (Ukraine), said that by proposing substantial transformations within the United Nations, the Secretary-General exposed himself to a risk of misunderstanding and probably even challenges from Member States. Deliberations on his proposals were not always smooth and easy, but finally the notion of reform became the guideline. The Assembly was now on the edge of adopting the second resolution on the matter, thus responding to all proposals in the Secretary-General's report. The draft, entitled "Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform", was the result of lengthy, sometimes complex, but truly collective efforts that sought to reflect the views of the entire membership. Initiative, creativity and readiness to search for compromise solutions, by the majority of delegations, combined with constructive approaches by Groups of States, had helped to overcome differences, and even polarization of positions, to successfully reach mutually acceptable agreement.
He said provisions of the revised draft covered the whole spectrum of problems touched upon in the Secretary-General's report -- from the establishing of the post of Deputy Secretary-General, to some general proposals regarding long-term changes. The resolution confirmed the strong political support which had been given to the Secretary-General's reform programme by Member States in the course of the general debate and during the adoption of the resolution on actions, as well as in a number of other forums both within and outside the Organization. It clearly indicated what would be the future need for actions of the Assembly, including its subsidiary bodies and other organs of the United Nations. That was particularly important on those issues where it was felt that more detailed information was required. They could be addressed later, when the relative proposals would be considered within the appropriate organs and bodies to which they were referred.
He said the adoption of two resolutions on the issue of United Nations reform represented a vivid example of the ability of the Organization, and in particular the Assembly, to adapt to the changing international environment, to find adequate responses to new challenges and successfully to accomplish substantial transformations of its activities. Those actions would also send a strong positive message to the outside world and general public, thus strengthening the Organization's role and enhancing its capacity to effectively carry out the functions enshrined in the Charter.
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Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN, told the Assembly major strides had been made to start the revitalization process necessary if the United Nations were to thrive in the twenty-first century. The establishment of the Deputy Secretary-General's post was vital to the Secretariat's new leadership and management structure. A Deputy would be appointed immediately, following consultations with Member States and, hopefully, she would take on her new responsibilities early in the new year. The draft resolution's provisions on peace and security would support efforts by the Secretary-General and the Security Council to prevent conflicts and endorse steps to enhance the Organization's rapid deployment capacity.
The establishment of a Development Dividend, funded by administrative savings, would reaffirm the commitment to efficiency and economic and social development, he said. In adopting the draft resolution, the Assembly would express its willingness to further rationalize intergovernmental machinery in the United Nations, including the Assembly, regional commissions, the Economic and Social Council and several of its subsidiary organs. Finally, the resolution authorized improvements in areas including disarmament, development cooperation and humanitarian affairs. The process whereby the two reform resolutions were adopted reflected the Assembly at its best -- innovative, pragmatic, and concerned with the greater good of the Organization itself.
Lack of time did not permit an in-depth consideration of longer-term measures in the reform report, the Secretary-General continued. More detailed proposals would be presented by the end of March, as the Assembly had requested, including the outlines of a results-based budgeting system and illustrations of how it would function. Parliaments had discovered that such a system increased the ability of legislatures to hold administrative entities accountable in a way that stimulated efficiency, encouraged coherence of efforts and promoted agility. More results were achieved at lower costs. All organizations required a rational process to update their work. The idea of sunset provisions was intended to provide a specific time horizon for mandates, whose continuation would require explicit renewal by the Assembly.
The Millennium Assembly was of utmost importance, the Secretary-General said. It should review and assess what the United Nations had endeavoured to achieve, with an eye on how to close the gap between aspiration and accomplishment. It should identify opportunities as well as shortcomings and re-examine the viability of the juridically-based fragmentation with the United Nations as a whole. It should provide guidance for the Organization in the era ahead.
The Secretary-General said reform was an not an event, but a process. Today marked an important event, but the process must continue, because a more effective United Nations could make the contributions which Member States and men, women and children throughout the world called on it to make -- to maintain international peace and security, cooperate in achieving economic and
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social progress, and promote respect for human rights and basic freedoms. (For full text of statement see Press Release SG/SM/6428-ORG/1258 of today's date.)
LEGWAILA J.M.J. LEGWAILA (Botswana) said the resolution was unprecedented to the extent that it sought to institute the most extensive reform measure ever adopted by the Assembly. It would have far-reaching consequences for the United Nations, and would go a long way to restoring international confidence in the Organization and boost its image. It would be unrealistic to assume that it could satisfy all expectations. The resolution did not call for the taking of definitive decisions on some of the more controversial or complex recommendations in the Secretary-General's report, but those had not been forgotten. They were being referred to appropriate bodies for further consultations, and some would be considered by the Assembly early next year after the Secretary-General would have provided the additional clarifications sought by Member States. The resolution provided specific time-frames for action to ensure that the postponement of a decision on those recommendations was not misunderstood or misinterpreted.
It emerged in the drafting of the resolution that there existed serious problems of lack of trust and confidence between the north and the south, he said. Those problems had made it difficult for the Assembly to have a unified approach to the reform exercise. Several developing countries tended to view the reform as an attempt to cut back on economic and social development activities, which they regarded as the most important United Nations function. All Member States should feel that they had a stake in the reform process for it to be a success; a spirit of partnership and cooperation must exist. He hoped the adoption of the resolution by consensus would serve as a confidence- building measure to that end.
JOHN H.F. CAMPBELL (Ireland) said the resolution about to be adopted marked an important step in the collective work to reform the Organization. In September, delegation heads underlined the political importance of making the United Nations more relevant for the challenges of the next century. Today's consensus resolution and the resolution one month ago, should give the Assembly the encouragement that the Organization was firmly set on that road. Every aspect of the Secretary-General's proposals, including the establishment of the post of Deputy Secretary-General and a development account in the programme budget for the biennium 1998/1999, had been dealt with in different ways.
He said there was much to be done in the coming months, but if the Organization was to be adapted to serve, as the Secretary-General had himself said, "the poor, the hungry, the sick and threatened", the Assembly could never be too ambitious. There were other crucial questions to which solutions must be found.
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He paid tribute to all that the Secretary-General had done to advance the ongoing work of United Nations reform with his proposals. At the beginning of the present Assembly, there had been a clear will by delegations to respond positively to those proposals. The Assembly would again show that will today, and confirm the respect and confidence in which the Secretary- General was held by all delegations. Ireland had been a firm advocate of United Nations reform and would welcome the adoption of the resolution which marked the successful completion of this stage of work.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly then took up the report of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) (document A/52/741) by which it informed the Assembly of its decision that the programme budget implications arising from draft resolution A/52/L.72/Rev.1 -- on renewing the United Nations, a programme for reform -- would be considered in the proposed 1998-1999 budget (A/52/303 and Add.1).
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILA (Cuba) said the omnibus resolution before the Assembly, could not be described as a consensus resolution because of its substance. Detailed sensitive issues had been reduced to a few ambiguous lines. The price of ambiguity in bipolar times was well known and in the present case the ambiguity was deliberate. The Cuban delegation would abstain, however, for sake of harmony, he said. The current version of the draft text did not reflect the positions and proposals of the Joint Coordination Committee. His delegation also expressed reservations on paragraphs relating to peace, security and disarmament; to programme budgeting, and to longer-term changes. Conflict prevention was perhaps one of the many elements in the maintenance of international security, he said, but if there were an attempt to open up a list of such elements, there were many other elements to consider which affected international peace and security and the relationships of respect and cooperation between States. He cited the application of unilateral coercive, political, economic and financial measures, and the imposition of arbitrary and indefinite sanctions by the Security Council as issues in international security, and said there was no agreed concept of conflict prevention. He said the text had no clear reference to the principle of consent by the host government in peacekeeping operations.
The concept of results-based budgeting was new and enjoyed neither the understanding or acceptance of Member States. There were other examples of controversial, vague and questionable wording on other issues. Cuba had always favoured consensus, but did not renounce its positions or principles, or allow itself to be guided by narrow national interests and obscure political tactics. Negotiations among representatives of Groups could not substitute or ignore the national positions of Member States. Informal, democratic, transparent, universal and open negotiations could not be replaced by other formats which lacked such qualities. Cuba was prepared to accept
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only a reform that made the United Nations democratic, that reinterpreted the principles of the Charter that were so frequently violated, that re- established the equality of States and the authority of the Assembly, and promoted the full exercise of all human rights.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said that after much energy and effort expended, in different meetings and at different stages, the Assembly had arrived at a text which was at best a compromise. While all the sections of the resolution were important and dealt with sensitive issues, the section on peace and security was of particular significance and sensitivity to the entire international community, including Iran. In the implementation of the resolution, the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of all States must be fully respected and complied with. With the implementation of the resolution, he looked forward to having a fully transparent and more participatory procedure to ensure the active participation and contribution of the whole membership of the Organization. As proposed in the earlier stages of the informal consultations by various delegations, including his own, the establishment of open-ended working groups for further consideration in the course of the on-going process of reform was both suitable and desirable.
SERGEI LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the two resolutions on reform were a point of reference for future work in reforming the United Nations. The Secretary-General and his team and the President of Assembly and his "friends" -- the Permanent Representatives of Botswana and Ireland -- and the heads of various regional groups had all contributed greatly to the end result. The Russian Federation had been closely involved in all aspects of the negotiations.
The draft resolution was a compromise product of the collective efforts of Member States, he said. It would be impossible to take into account every concern of all of them. Some recommendations had been referred for future consideration and the Russian Federation had some reservations regarding certain proposals. It believed the process of appointing the first Deputy Secretary-General should be open and democratic in nature. Regarding the long-term initiatives on Charter provisions, he said all would agree on the need for a thorough and scrupulous analysis. Hopefully, the process of renewal would proceed with close cooperation between the Secretary-General and the Member States.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
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BILL RICHARDSON (United States), said today's consensus was not a final product but the start of a difficult journey. As the "Reform Assembly" continued into 1998, the momentum that had been building must be maintained. The United Nations was hard pressed to keep up with new challenges, such as terrorism, the environment, narcotics, intra-state conflicts, ethnic conflict and refugees. Reform had become the concept for making the United Nations more efficient, more effective, and better able to meet the next century's threats and opportunities. A first-ever cabinet, a strategic management group, merged departments and ongoing overhead savings projects were innovations that helped the United Nations stay within its budget cap this biennium.
He said the long-overdue creation of a post of Deputy Secretary-General was a critical part of a larger effort to better organize the United Nations and enhance a culture of accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency, including in sustainable development activities. Delegations were challenged by the Secretary-General's recommendations for results-based budgeting (accountability for performance by establishing performance yardsticks) and "sunset" provisions on United Nations programmes (periodic review for programme effectiveness for determining best use of programmatic resources) and others.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Ministerial Declarations of both the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement strongly endorsed the Statement of Principles on United Nations reform. That had stressed that the reform process must strengthen the Organization's ability to fulfil its role and functions in the development field, particularly its capacity to respond effectively to the needs of the developing countries. The reform should also be undertaken according to the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions. A prerequisite for enhancing United Nations effectiveness was to have stable, predictable and adequate financing for the Organization.
He hoped that when implementing the reform resolutions, the concerns and views expressed, particularly by major groups such as the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement would be fully taken into account, as agreed upon. He reiterated his support for the Secretary-General's initiative on reform and efforts to modernize the Organization, based on his proposals and those made by other relevant United Nations bodies. It was a time to celebrate, but at the same time much work lay ahead for the implementation of the proposals and measures that had been agreed on.
QIN HUASUN (China) said the creation of the post of a Deputy Secretary- General was a major reform measure for the high-level management of the United Nations Secretariat. The Deputy Secretary-General was not to constitute a separate decision-making layer. He hoped the Secretary-General would consult
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widely on the appointment of the post, taking into account the opinions of Member States and the principle of equitable geographical distribution, as repeatedly confirmed by the Assembly.
The proposals listed in the section on "longer-term changes" were some preliminary ideas of the Secretary-General to be subjected to consideration by Member States, so they did not necessarily represent the future reform direction of the United Nations. Before putting forward his report on those issues, the Secretary-General should solicit fully the views of the vast number of Member States; the matters concerned should be referred to competent bodies of the United Nations for serious studies and discussions.
He said the current Assembly session had not had the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the substantive issues in other parts of the resolution. He hoped various inter-governmental bodies concerned could hold in-depth discussions on relevant questions in the resolution so that common ground could be reached on that basis. From a long-term point of view, the reform process should focus on peace and development. The vast number of developing countries hoped that the reform could reverse the trend in the United Nations of paying inadequate attention to development.
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said the resolution was an important milestone in the ongoing process of reforming the Organization to strengthen its capacity and effectiveness. The idea of saving for reinvestment, which Japan introduced, would finally be materialized with the establishment of a development account in the programme budget for 1998-1999. That was one of the most important elements in the reform proposal and he hoped the account would be fully operational early next year, upon examination of details on implementation of the account at the resumed session next spring.
He said that although the resolution just adopted was important, it represented only one stage in the overall reform process. The agreement reached on various recommendations of the United Nations should be faithfully implemented. At the same time, there were a number of proposals which relevant competent United Nations bodies and Member States had to consider in- depth and expeditiously, including proposals for longer-term changes, such as the sunset provisions.
He reiterated that while the Secretary-General's proposal basically ranged over structural and organizational aspects of reform, the United Nations as a whole should be reformed in a comprehensive and balanced manner. Therefore, a reform package should comprise reforms in the political area, including the Security Council; the economic area, especially regarding development; and the financial area, with particular attention to fair and equitable methods of financing for the activities of the Organization. He hoped that adoption of the resolution would serve to maintain the momentum that had been generated so far and give greater impetus towards the realization of a broad and fundamental reform of the Organization.
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NABIL ELARBY (Egypt) said his delegation welcomed the establishment of the post of Deputy Secretary-General. Regarding the resolution, he said he understood that the language of operative paragraph 5 (on the improvement of the supply of information to the Secretary-General to assist the Organization to prevent conflict) would require prior agreement from the State concerned. In paragraph 7, the recommendation for a time-frame for the conclusion of the status-of-forces agreement that would apply provisionally was a positive step towards closing some loopholes in establishing peace-keeping operations. The text implied the consent of the host country as a condition for model status- of-forces agreements. It should be remembered that the Assembly also had the power to establish peacekeeping arrangements. Egypt reaffirmed its commitment to the larger reform process with a view to enhancing the performance of the United Nations.
SOO GIL PARK (Republic of Korea) said it was time to take action on the Secretary-General's recommendations in the form of a draft resolution embodying a consensus of the Member States. The text was less than perfect, but the Republic of Korea joined the consensus bearing in mind the urgency and importance of implementing the Secretary-General's reform package. In fact, the Republic of Korea would have preferred taking a more positive and concrete role on some proposals, such as the Millennium Assembly and "sunset" provisions, the decisions which were deferred to a later stage.
The Republic of Korea reiterated its strong hope that the actions and recommendations approved by the Assembly would be implemented as soon as possible while taking full account of the views of Member States. The Republic of Korea also hoped the action today would give the international community a chance to positively assess the commitment of the entire membership to the reform process. It sent a message to the international community that the entire membership was committed to reform of the United Nations so that it could respond more effectively to the challenges of the twenty-first century.
JEAN-LOUIS WOLZFELD (Luxembourg), speaking for the European Union, the associated Central and Eastern European countries, and Cyprus, Iceland and Liechtenstein, said the reforms proposed were ambitious. Their objective was to transform the Organization in the direction of greater convergence of objectives, increased cohesion of efforts and greater flexibility to enable it to face up to the dynamic and more complex international reality, and to better fulfil its mandates in the service of the Member States. On 12 November, the Assembly demonstrated that it supported the message adopted and choices made by the Secretary-General, and mandated him to implement the measures falling within his authority. The resolution just adopted took a position on the recommendations made by the Secretary-General in areas that came under the responsibility of Member States.
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The exercise was not complete, he said. In many areas, the complexity or sensitivity of which required more detailed examination, the resolution called for the submission of specific proposals or reports, or invited other organs to examine the matter in-depth. The in-depth reform of the Organization would not be the result of one act in isolation, but of a process which would have to be at the very centre of the Assembly's concerns and action throughout its present session. The European Union would actively contribute to that effort as it had done over the last three months. It was convinced of the importance for the international community of a multilateral Organization of universal scope that was revitalized, and which effectively accomplished the mission which it had unceasingly carried out, and which consisted in working to serve peace, progress and development.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said the adoption of the draft would be an encouraging sign of revitalization and a powerful message of support for the United Nations. A sign of the importance of the reforms was the press release during the recent Islamic Summit in Teheran inviting the Secretary-General to pursue his efforts in that direction. Since reform was a process, today's action was not an end in itself but part of a long-term project whose completion, he hoped, would coincide with the definitive settlement of the Organization's financial crisis.
CELSO LUIZ NUNES AMORIM (Brazil) said his Government was fully committed to the goals of reform and welcomed the Secretary-General's proposals. It was glad that agreement was reached on the Deputy Secretary-General's post, the conceptual terms for strengthening the Organization's role in maintaining international peace and security, the need to increase availability of resources for development cooperation, the reinforcement of United Nations action in the humanitarian field and the establishment of the development account. Brazil would continue to endeavour to reach agreement on other elements of the reform.
In some cases, he said, consensus could be reached only by inviting the Secretary-General to further elaborate on the proposals, taking into account the views of the Member States. Brazil held strong reservations on the proposal for a new concept of trusteeship (in paragraph 26 of the resolution). They were still not convinced that, as stated in paragraph 85 of the Secretary-General's report, "Member States appear to have decided to retain the Trusteeship Council" and there was no case in favour of the idea that the Council should be "reconstituted as a forum for the exercise of collective trusteeship of the global environment and common areas such as the oceans, atmosphere and outer space". He said the international community already had the regimes and forum for international cooperation on the environment and the "global commons". Trusteeship had a precise meaning in international law and the new concept could not add any significant value to the efforts already undertaken in a number of United Nations bodies and
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conventions. Brazil was confident those views would be taken into consideration by the Secretary-General when he further elaborated on his proposals.
OSCAR DE ROJAS (Venezuela) said his delegation firmly supported the proposals for United Nations reform, not only because of their merit but also because it was important to give the Secretary-General the benefit of the doubt, and support, at a moment that was critical to the history and the future of the Organization. Venezuela had often quoted the Secretary-General by referring to the reform as "our" reform, and had not seen it as an impulse of any one country or particular sector.
He said he wanted to draw attention to the components of paragraph 26 which referred to the establishing of a special ministerial commission to examine possible changes to the United Nations Charter. His delegation welcomed the idea, but believed that for it to be truly complete, the mandate of the commission must include an examination of the agreements between United Nations international financial institutions, the Bretton Woods Institutions and also the possibility of establishing a more institutional and substantial relationship between the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
PENNY WENSLEY (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said she believed the measures and proposals adopted today and those endorsed by Member States in that November resolution would strengthen the Organization significantly. They would result in more effective coordination of United Nations activity system-wide, more cohesive United Nations action in the field, significant economies that could lead to a development dividend, and the organization of structures within the Secretariat to reflect current needs. Consequently, the United Nations would be able to deliver better and more focused programmes. She encouraged the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to deal promptly in the future with those elements of the reform package requiring its consideration, so that it could be funded and implemented expeditiously, according to the commitment undertaken by Member States as embodied in those two resolutions.
She said that in his report, the Secretary-General had drawn on and taken forward reform efforts previously under way, such as in the high-level working groups, and had launched a far-reaching process of needed Secretariat reform. He had provided essential impetus to inter-governmental consideration of reform measures and proposals during the Assembly.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said his country had been heavily involved in the consultations which had led to the consensus, which was a reasonable balance between the concerns of Member States and those of the Secretariat, despite imperfections in paragraphs 5 and 7 (in the section on peace, security and disarmament). He said the reforms could be implemented only as part of a precise framework of mandates, decisions and resolutions by the Assembly. The resolution was a positive, strong message to the international community as
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well as to the United Nations. All Member States welcomed the reform proposals, while asking for additional information or referring them to consideration for the competent bodies when necessary.
That approach was a major advance for the United Nations while waiting for the implementation of in-depth reforms of other organs, such as the Security Council, he said. It was important to ensure that the reform proposals were scrupulously implemented to avoid anything that might harm the Organization's efficient, effective functioning and democratic balance.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India), said that having adopted the resolution members could consider themselves part of the "reform Assembly". He recalled the reasons that had been given for justifying the reforms. The first was the hope that if the United Nations cost less the payment of overdue assessments would start. That had not transpired. Another reason was that if the United Nations development system pulled its act together more funds would flow in, yet the core resources of UNDP had declined in 1996, and were expected to drop further in 1997. There was nothing to show that the trend so clearly seen in UNDP and other United Nations development bodies would be turned around by the reforms adopted.
The adoption of the resolution on reform recommendations last month had not been met with resounding applause. The vast majority of people around the world did not even have a dim awareness of the reforms, which would be noticed if they made a difference to people's lives. For the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries, reform would be useful only if it served the mass of mankind better. Another stated reason was that the Development Dividend would show that reform was productive and freed money for development activity within the United Nations budget itself. However, there was no assurance that the dividend could be maintained as the Organization's budget continued to shrink. He said he hoped the reforms would strengthen the hand of the Secretary-General. Member States wanted to believe that what they had approved were not just cosmetic changes but would lead to real improvements and gains in the working of the United Nations.
GUMA I. AMER (Libya), said the language of the resolution in some measure reflected the concerns of his country and it had therefore joined the consensus. Libya would have preferred its position to have been expressed on many points, including the establishment of the post of Deputy Secretary- General, on consultations with Member States and on ensuring geographical representation. It had stressed such information submitted under the provisions of paragraph 5 (on conflict prevention) must be dealt with carefully and objectively, and ensure the advance approval of the State concerned, without impinging on its territorial integrity.
He said he hoped that the future there would be more on reform of the Security Council, to make it more representative and democratic and not a body that was exploited to satisfy the interests of certain powers. Libya would cooperate with the Secretary-General to make the United Nations more effective in the future.
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