31 March 2009
General Assembly
GA/10818

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Plenary

78th Meeting (PM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONFIRMS HELEN CLARK OF NEW ZEALAND AT HELM OF UNITED NATIONS


DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, APPOINTS THREE AD LITEM JUDGES TO DISPUTE TRIBUNAL


Reaffirms Support for New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Defers Action

On Resolution for June’s Economic Summit, Pending Review of Budget Implications


In a flurry of activity, the General Assembly today confirmed the Secretary-General’s appointment of Helen Clark of New Zealand as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to a four-year term beginning 20 April. 


She would replace Kemal Derviş of Turkey, who stepped down on 1 March after serving in that position since 14 August 2005.  His term was to end on 14 August.


Ms. Clark, a member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1981, was the country’s Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008.  While in Government, she led policy debate on a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues, including sustainability and climate change.  She actively led New Zealand’s international relations at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, and strongly supported achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in her region.


Speaking after the confirmation on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Sudan’s representative said the United Nations development agenda was a basic pillar of the Organization requiring considerable effort.  The Programme’s goals were directly related to that agenda, and it was thus imperative that the Administrator act both in the interests of developing countries and within the framework of their national development policies and priorities.  Objectives should include the implementation of agreements made at major United Nations conferences and summits.  The internationally-agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, were of utmost priority.


Also today, the General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the Internal Justice Council, appointed Michael Adams ( Australia), Jean-François Cousin (France) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako ( Nigeria) as ad litem judges to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal.  That body was created in 2007, along with the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, to improve the Organization’s system of dealing with internal grievances and disciplinary cases.  It replaces the Joint Appeals Board and Joint Disciplinary Committees, and would be operational by 1 July.


The ad litem judges would serve for one year beginning 1 July.  Their appointment follows up resolution 63/253 (2008), whereby the Assembly decided that ad litem judges should be appointed to the Tribunal as an interim measure, and have all the powers conferred on permanentjudges.  Upon completion of their term, they would be eligible for appointment as either full-time or half-time judges, in accordance with the Tribunal’s statute.


[The Assembly elected on 2 March three full-time and two half-time judges to the Dispute Tribunal.  For details, see Press Release GA/10811.]


Speaking after action, the representative of the United States said he was concerned that the appointments had been unnecessarily rushed, denying Member States the opportunity to make an informed decision.  He did not concur that there were exigent circumstances necessitating action by the Assembly.  Resolution 62/228 (2008) specified that the Council provide two or three candidates for each vacancy; instead, it had provided only three names.


He said the purpose of the ad litem judges was to help the Tribunal address an expected backlog of work that would occur at the end of 2009.  Thus, the real need for them would occur only at year-end.  The appointments should have been made in May or June.  Emphasizing that the United States’ concerns addressed the process -– rather than the candidates’ qualifications –- he joined consensus in appointing the three candidates.


In final action, the Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “New Partnership for Africa’s Development:  progress in implementation and international support” (document A/63/L.60/Rev.1), by which it reaffirmed support for the New Partnership, and pledged to fully implement the “Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs”, adopted last October following a high-level meeting on that issue.


Introduced by the representative of the Sudan, the text also requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution to the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session.


The President of the General Assembly informed delegates that action on a draft resolution entitled “Organization of the United Nations conference at the highest level on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development” (document A/63/L.66) would be postponed to a later date to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review its programme budget implications.


In other business, delegates took note of documents A/63/725 Add.1 and Add.2, in which the Secretary-General informed the Assembly President that the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and the Marshall Islands had made the necessary payment to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.


The General Assembly will meet in informal consultations Wednesday, 1 April, at 3 p.m. to discuss system-wide coherence.


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For information media • not an official record