1 December 2011
General Assembly
GA/11181

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

70th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Should Be Place for Finding Solutions, Responding to Challenges,


Building Global Consensus, Says President, Opening Debate on Revitalization

 


Speakers Stress Role as Principal, Most Representative Policymaking Body;

Many Express Concern at Security Council Encroachment on Powers, Prerogatives


The General Assembly needed to be revitalized and empowered in order to meet the current global challenges and fulfil its central role, as envisaged by the United Nations Charter, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser told that body today.


More than ever, world events necessitated a strong and responsive General Assembly and it should not be restricted to being a venue for deliberation, he said.  Rather, the Assembly should be a place for finding solutions, responding to challenges and building global consensus on issues of shared concern.


During the morning debate, representatives emphasized the role of the General Assembly as the principal deliberative, representative policymaking organ of the United Nations.  The delegate of the European Union stressed the importance of effective multilateralism with the United Nations at its core, and said that strengthening the Organization, based on effective and sustainable funding, was a top priority.


However, he said that revitalization could only be ensured when the Assembly took relevant action on issues of common concern to the international community, while improving transparency and cooperation.


Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Algeria’s representative underlined that the revitalization process was “of a political nature”, aiming mainly to strengthen the role of the Assembly as the chief deliberative policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.  He emphasized the need to fully respect the functions and powers of each principal organ of the Organization.  He expressed concern that the Security Council was encroaching on the powers and prerogatives of the Assembly, by addressing issues that fell rightfully within the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.


He said that the Movement would oppose any approach seeking to undermine or minimize the achievements of the General Assembly, diminish its current role and functioning or raise questions about its relevance and credibility.  Further, as the work of the Assembly was no longer limited to the main session, that increasing activity should be matched with the necessary resources, both human and financial, in particular for the Office of the President.


Venezuela’s representative said that the programmes and action plans of the Organization’s main international conferences had provided the most significant reference framework in the universalization of policy in areas including health, decolonization, education and the environment.  Such positive achievements had all been achieved in the General Assembly, he stressed, and their positive impact was, in fact, “intrinsically linked” to the will of a wide range of Member States.


However, he said that for a long time the people of the world had no voice at the United Nations, and the Assembly, among other bodies, was failing to respond adequately to the challenges faced by humankind.  He cautioned that, instead of becoming more democratic, the Organization was becoming more elitist, while imperialist powers that dominated the Security Council were striving to control “all the items on the United Nations agenda” and to weaken the role of the “G-193”, or the General Assembly.


The representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Assembly’s loss of vitality was a result of the body’s chronic operational shortcomings, rather than conflicts between the Assembly and other United Nations organs.  That situation could be improved by redressing the Assembly’s managerial practices, such as its adoption of repetitive resolutions, the inability to ensure implementation of its resolutions and its “occasional management inefficiency”.


Cuba’s delegate said that the Assembly was the “prime expression of sovereign equality between States”, as it was the most inclusive of the United Nations organs.  However, the main obstacle facing its revitalization was the lack of political will of certain Member States, which sought to impose their will on the larger membership.


For that reason, he said many Assembly resolutions remained “inert” and without implementation, a situation that was “unacceptable”.  Efforts in the revitalization process could not be limited to speeches alone, he added, noting that the Assembly, in fact, had many tools at its disposal to move forward in that respect.  He called for a broad and general framework for the revitalization process during the current session, which would help to make forward progress.


The representative of the United States suggested that the Assembly’s revitalization process should focus on streamlining and prioritization, and the Assembly would be better served by more interaction between the heads of the main organs of the United Nations, as well as the leaders of its committees and sub-bodies.  That increased coordination was critical for streamlining agendas and for preventing overlap.


Her delegation was also in favour of making the Secretary-General’s selection process more inclusive.  However, it believed that the current process, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, could not be altered.  With steps in the areas outlined, the Assembly would be more focused, relevant and more able to address global issues.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Viet Nam, Egypt, China, Indonesia, Brazil, India, Belarus, Malaysia, Finland, Japan, Tunisia, Pakistan, Iran and Georgia.


The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 2 December, at 10 a.m. to consider the reports of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).


Background


The General Assembly met today to hold a joint debate on implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations; and revitalization of the work of the Assembly.


Statements


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly, said that today’s meeting was of special significance, as world events more than ever necessitated a strong and responsive General Assembly.  To meet the current global challenges and to fulfil its central role as envisaged by the United Nations Charter, the General Assembly needed to be revitalized and empowered.  Through joint efforts, Member States could ensure that the Assembly remained efficient, competent and viable.  While the revitalization of the General Assembly was not a new issue, discussions on the topic to date had embraced different views.  While some focused more on technical and administrative working methods, others had highlighted the urgent need to revitalize the Assembly’s political role and its authority as defined by the Charter.


Legitimate questions had emerged, he said.  In terms of translating the Assembly’s decisions into action, too many of the adopted resolutions and decisions had yet to be implemented.  The General Assembly should not be restricted to a venue for deliberation, but should be a place for finding solutions, responding to challenges, and building global consensus on issues of shared concern.  As one of the four key pillars that he had highlighted for the current session, United Nations reform and revitalization reflected the shared goal of a stronger United Nations, and the commitment to an Organization that was better able to shoulder its global mandate.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the importance of the revitalization of the General Assembly and the validity and relevance of its principled position with regard to that process.  The Movement underlined that the revitalization process was “of a political nature”, aiming mainly to strengthen the role of the Assembly as the chief deliberative policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.  The resumption of previous work to evaluate the status of implementation of Assembly resolutions related to revitalization, as well as the clear identification of the underlying causes behind any lack of implementation, were of the utmost importance.


The Movement emphasized the need to fully respect the functions and powers of each principal organ of the Organization, in particular the Assembly, and to maintain balance between them.  In that regard, it once again reiterated its concern that the Security Council was encroaching on the powers and prerogatives of the Assembly, by addressing issues that fell rightfully within the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  In fact, it was the Assembly that had the authority to draw the framework and set the principles and objectives for the wider United Nations system and its organs, agencies and programmes.  It was also the organ that should review the work of all its subsidiary organs and bodies.  Further, the Assembly should maintain its role in setting priorities of the Organization in considering all budgetary and administrative issues and reforms – including human resources, finance and the management and procurement for Peacekeeping Operations.


“The [Non-Aligned Movement] will oppose any approach that seeks to undermine or minimize the achievements of the General Assembly, diminish its current role and functioning or raise questions about its relevance and credibility,” he stressed, adding that the role and activities of the President of the Assembly had in fact grown over the past years.  The Assembly adopted more than 300 resolutions and decisions annually, established working groups and facilitations, and many other actions throughout the year.  All of that has made the presence of the President and his active participation during the whole session necessary.  The work of the Assembly was no longer limited to the main session.  That increasing activity should be matched with the necessary resources, both human and financial.  In that respect, he recalled the call issued in previous resolutions that the Secretary-General submit proposals in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012‑2013 to review the budget allocation to the Office of the President of the General Assembly.  Finally, the Movement affirmed the need for the selection of the Secretary-General to be more transparent and inclusive to all Member States and emphasized, therefore, that the participation of the General Assembly in the selection and appointment process should be more “active, effective and efficient”.


IOANNIS VRAILAS, delegate of the European Union, said that the Union and its Member States were strongly attached to effective multilateralism with the United Nations at its core.  Strengthening the United Nations, based on effective and sustainable funding, was a top priority.  In that context, the Union continued to be committed to revitalization and to supporting efforts aimed at strengthening the role and authority of the General Assembly, in line with the Charter and relevant resolutions.  Revitalization could only be ensured when the Assembly took relevant action on issues of common concern to the international community.


He said that the General Assembly revitalization process had already led to positive developments, including the holding of thematic debates to facilitate more in-depth discussions on current issues of critical importance to the international community.  As to the relationship of the General Assembly to the other principal organs of the United Nations, the Union believed that improving transparency and cooperation remained important goals.  On the issue of working methods, he stressed the need for further rationalization and streamlining of the agendas of the Assembly and its committees.  Finally, he emphasized the important role played by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, and assured Member States that the Union would continue to engage in a pragmatic manner in its proceedings.


LESTER DELGADO SÁNCHEZ ( Cuba) aligned himself with the statement delivered by the representative of Algeria on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which represented the position of 120 Member States, and added that the General Assembly was the principal deliberative, representative policymaking organ of the United Nations.  The Assembly was the “prime expression of sovereign equality between States”, as it was the most inclusive of the United Nations organs.  However, the main obstacle facing its revitalization was the lack of political will of certain Member States, which sought to impose their will on the larger membership.  For that reason, many Assembly resolutions remained “inert” and without implementation, a situation that was “unacceptable”.  Efforts in the revitalization process could not be limited to speeches alone, he added, noting that the Assembly, in fact, had many tools at its disposal to move forward in that respect.


He called for a broad and general framework for the revitalization process during the current session, which would help to make forward progress.  He was, nonetheless, concerned that the Security Council was attempting to establish norms and laws, which was the sole purview of the Assembly.  That “dangerous tendency” must be halted immediately, as it clearly violated the Charter of the United Nations and inhibited democratic debate.  He called for a “radical reform” of the Council in that respect.  Only a universal and democratic organ, such as the General Assembly, could truly tackle global problems, he concluded.


ROSEMARY A. DICARLO ( United States) said that her delegation was committed to multilateral engagement and to a strong United Nations system.  The United States recognized the importance of the General Assembly in the Organization’s functioning, but suggested that its revitalization process should focus on streamlining and prioritization.  Member States should consider reviewing existing resolutions biannually or triannually, she said, and not annually.  They should exercise restraint in submitting new resolutions.  Another suggestion was that the Assembly encourage the more timely publishing of its resolutions following their adoption, which would encourage their more expeditious implementation.


Further, the Assembly would be better served by more interaction between the heads of the main organs of the United Nations, as well as the leaders of its committees and sub-bodies.  That increased coordination was critical for streamlining the agendas of United Nations organs, and for preventing overlap.  The United States was also in favour of making the Secretary-General’s selection process more inclusive.  However, it believed that the current process, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, could not be altered.  With steps in the areas outlined, the Assembly would be more focused, relevant and more able to address global issues, she stressed.


LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said dramatic changes were being witnessed in the world with many challenges in the fields of peace and security, socio-economic development, climate change, food security, scarce natural and energy resources, and epidemic diseases.  Individually, States could not cope with those challenges alone, but must instead have international cooperation and coordination, in which the United Nations should take a leading role.  Democratic and comprehensive reforms of the United Nations, including the General Assembly, would make the Organization more effective and efficient in the areas of work mandated by the Charter.


He said the revitalization of the General Assembly must enhance the central position of the General Assembly as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations, as well as the role of the Assembly in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international laws.  The revitalization of the Assembly should be a political process through intergovernmental negotiations, with the full commitment and goodwill of all Member States.  He called on Member States to work in a cooperative, problem-solving spirit, in order to facilitate a breakthrough and achieve concrete results in the sixty-sixth session.


MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that, while Member States had adopted no fewer than 17 consensus resolutions on Assembly revitalization over the past 20 years, none had ever been completely implemented, largely because political will had been lacking to ensure that the 193-member body played its leading role in global governance.  Therefore, the first critical step to achieving progress in revitalizing the Assembly would be to ensure the honest implementation – and translation into action – of all its current and previous resolutions.  That should be accompanied by the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to clearly identify what had caused gaps in implementation and ways to rectify them.


Meanwhile, he said, the main challenge to efforts at revitalizing the Assembly was constant encroachment on its role and functions by the Security Council.  The Council was constantly trying to redefine the scope of its own competence, through broadening the range of issues that constituted a threat to international peace and security to now include many topics already being considered by the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  By example, he listed the topics of recent Security Council debates, including on development, climate change, drug trafficking and the spread of pandemics, and suggested that the Ad Hoc Working Group could identify areas of encroachment to address areas of overlap and save resources.


“The General Assembly should, in the meantime, assume a more proactive role and respond in a timely manner to emerging challenges, events and crises, including those that pose threats to international peace and security,” he said.  The Assembly should also remain vigilant and be prepared to take proper action when the Security Council failed to act in situations involving genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and grave violations of international humanitarian law.  In that context, he noted that the Assembly President had chosen the role of mediation in dispute settlement as the theme of the current session, thus confirming the Assembly’s role in areas of international peace and security.  He also called for greater participation by the Assembly in appointing the Secretary-General, and for ensuring the effectiveness of the Assembly President’s Office.


YANG TAO ( China) said that revitalization was an important component in the reform of the broader United Nations, and China commended the General Assembly President for making it a priority for the session.  The General Assembly should continue to promote international cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and humanitarian areas.  In the area of maintaining international peace and security, China supported the Assembly for its role in that regard, as well.  Further, the Group of 20 and other emerging multilateral mechanisms played an important role in global governance and in addressing financial crises.  In that regard, China supported greater exchange and interaction between the Group of 20 and other relevant bodies.


He supported the General Assembly in improving its working methods, streamlining its working process and fostering a style that was practical and action-oriented.  Effective functioning of the Office of the General Assembly President was also an important guarantee to make sure that the work of the General Assembly was carried out effectively, and the Office should be strengthened.  All Member States had a stake in the revitalization of the Assembly’s work, and China supported that work within the framework of the Ad Hoc Working Group.


YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia), aligning himself with the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that there was a strong connection between the theme of the current General Assembly session – “the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means” – and the revitalization of the Assembly.  That body should be strengthened in order to allow it to further encourage mediation and peacekeeping, he said, adding that the Assembly “must be given space” to perform all its Charter functions more effectively.  The Assembly, with its universal membership, was uniquely placed to grapple with the often interconnected and complex causes and solutions to conflicts.  The adoption of Assembly resolution 65/283 (2011) on mediation enabled it to better perform those functions and to propose concrete ways to mainstream the use of mediation across the United Nations system.


He further highlighted some points from that resolution, which Indonesia felt were critical in taking forward the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on revitalization.  First, greater political will remained central to advancing collective efforts for energizing the Assembly.  The working group should continue and intensify its efforts to identify further ways to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the Assembly.  The inventory chart annexed to the annual reports of the working group was particularly useful in that respect, he stressed.


Second, the improvement in the working methods of the Assembly and its Main Committees remained very important in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Assembly’s work.  On the relationship with other principal United Nations organs and outside groups, Indonesia believed that, while there should be cooperation and collaboration in that respect, it was vital that there were balanced relations between them and that each worked within its mandate.  Finally, the Assembly should play a more meaningful role in the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General.  Indonesia shared the views expressed that there must be “substantive interaction” of the candidates with the Assembly, and that due regard must continue to be given to regional rotation.


REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said the General Assembly was the most representative decision-making body of the United Nations.  Its universal membership and democratic statute provided the legitimacy that enabled it to function as the natural political forum of all relevant issues on the international agenda.  The relationship among the principal bodies of the United Nations should be mutually reinforcing and complementary.  It was not enough to ensure that each individual body performed its function in accordance with the Charter.  Rather, it was necessary to promote more coordination and collaboration among them, she said.


In order for the systems to be effective, the work of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission should be conducted in an integrated manner, she said.  Enhancing the direct interaction between Member States and the Secretariat should also be at the forefront of the process of revitalization of the General Assembly.  The Assembly itself could do more to improve its own effectiveness, and the question of implementation of United Nations resolutions was an issue of foremost importance, in that context.  Further, the role of the Assembly in the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General should reflect its position as the main governing body of the Organization.  Brazil strongly supported a more in-depth consideration of the role of the Assembly in the procedures for selecting, appointing and confirming the heads of the major specialized agencies, funds and programmes.  More direct involvement of the General Assembly in the process would provide greater transparency and enhance the participation of Member States.


HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India), using Facebook terminology to describe the status of Assembly revitalization, said the exercise was highly “commented” on; much “liked”; but rarely “shared”.  Noting that the best posts on the popular social networking site usually got a large number of “likes” and “shares,” he said that if Assembly revitalization was not acted upon quickly, it might be consigned to the “event” category with its “status” updated once a year.  “United Nations reform is a process that has to evolve with the [changing] international situation,” he continued, adding that narrow-minded national positions that kept a more contemporary mix of actors – such as major troop contributors – from playing a bigger part in the world body’s activities amounted to “a travesty of the Assembly’s prerogatives”.


India believed that the Assembly could only be revitalized when its position as the Organization’s chief deliberative and policymaking body was respected in both letter and spirit, he said.  The Assembly should take the lead in setting the global agenda and restoring the centrality of the United Nations in formulating multilateral approaches to resolving the issues of the day.  While appreciating the efforts of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the subject, he said that his delegation considered it critical to establish the proper relationship between the Assembly and the Security Council in line with the Charter.  Such a move would ensure that the Council did not continue encroaching on the Assembly’s mandate “through its extremely wide and permissive interpretations of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security”.


It was clear that the Council’s agenda was, to say the least, “overburdened” because it had anointed itself with the responsibility of dealing with a wide range of issues, which, though important, “leave it with less time to deal with hotspots that constitute real threats to international peace and security,” he said.  The Assembly must also have a greater say in the selection of the Secretary-General, he continued, and acknowledged that, as it was the Assembly that had limited its own role in that matter “it will have to be the Assembly that claws back its rightful place”.  The Assembly - and the other entities that formed part of the United Nations system - must reflect the diplomatic best practices in its day-to-day functioning.  “And it has a lot to learn from Member States in this regard,” he said.


ZOYA KOLONTAI (Belarus), endorsing the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations must help to implement development strategies for the future, and therefore should adapt to the new realities of today’s world.  A strong and reformed United Nations was in the interest of the entire international community, in particular in the areas of disarmament, development and the struggles against poverty, as well as climate change, among other challenges.  A strong and clear-cut role should be laid out for the General Assembly, as the main deliberative body of the United Nations.  Matters of priority in that respect included the strengthening of the Assembly’s role in matters of peace and conflict; maintaining a balance between bodies in considering items on the United Nations agenda, especially between the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council; strengthening the role of the President of the General Assembly; and enhancing the role of the Assembly in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General.


Belarus was against the unjustified referral of issues that fell within the purview of the Assembly to the Security Council, he stressed, calling for increased cooperation in the Organization, including regular consultations between the heads of those bodies.  Further, the unconditional implementation of Assembly resolutions was also needed, as “foot dragging” undermined the Assembly and had negative implications.  Belarus favoured a substantive agenda in the Assembly and it supported a discussion of the possibility of adopting more flexible working methods.  While progress had been achieved in the revitalization process, Belarus noted that much remained to be done.  Only by the joint action of all Member States would all reform tracks be realized, while respecting the sanctity of the Organization’s Charter.


HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that, of all the issues that needed to be addressed regarding enhancing the Assembly’s standing, no other weakness undermined the body’s work more than the lack of implementation of its resolutions.  Yet, the sheer number of texts it adopted each year would make follow-up a “monumental task”.  Bearing that in mind, he said that it would be more practical if Member States focused on responsible and transparent implementation, and on creating a mechanism that would be tasked with assessing the status of Assembly resolutions.  Moreover, “with the number of resolutions and variety of agenda items before us”, there was a need to seriously consider streamlining the Assembly’s substantive agenda.


“The Assembly’s agenda needs to be focused more on pressing and relevant issues that affect the everyday lives of the people of the world,” he said, adding that the number of items on the body’s work programme could be reduced to lessen the burden on Member States, especially those with smaller delegations.  He went on to note the need for enhanced cooperation among all the Organization’s main bodies, and called for a more symbiotic, rather than competitive relationship between the Assembly and the Security Council.  Indeed, while they dealt with specifically mandated areas under the Charter, they both had a role to play in the maintenance of international peace and security, and as such, must work together “with a high sense of mutual respect”.


JARMO VIINANEN ( Finland), aligning with the European Union, said that the General Assembly was the most global and truly representative body on the planet.  It had a central role in global governance, and it should be strengthened further.  Finland had organized a retreat for the newly-elected members of the Security Council for the past nine years, and had decided to try a similar approach for the General Assembly by inviting the General Assembly President and President-elect, as well as members-elect of the General Committee to a retreat in Tarrytown, New York.  One of the aims had been to give the incoming General Committee an opportunity to familiarize themselves further with the working methods of the General Assembly.


He said another purpose of the retreat was to give elected members an opportunity to discuss ways of strengthening the Assembly in a more informal setting.  That “brainstorming” produced many useful ideas and suggestions on thematic debates and outreach activities.  The retreat would be held again next year and Finland intended to develop the concept further.


KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said one strongly anticipated outcome of the revitalization of the Assembly’s work was strengthening the relations and coordination between it and the other principal organs of the United Nations.  The submission by the Council and the regular consultations between its Presidents were invaluable.  For the first time in 15 years, the Assembly and Council Presidents had organized a plenary meeting for the Assembly to examine the Council’s report separately from the issue of its reform.  Japan welcomed such efforts to promote interaction with the wider membership and noted that presidential Note 507 on the Council’s working methods was also consulted for guidance in preparing the Council’s annual report this year.  His delegation also appreciated the smooth process by which the Council and the Assembly appointed the Secretary-General for a second term, particularly in light of the distinct roles and responsibilities for those bodies, as stipulated in the Charter.  The current discussion should now focus on the role of the Assembly in ensuring the transparency of the process.


Stressing the need to reinforce the institutional memory of the Assembly President’s Office, he welcomed efforts to do so, including the PGA Handbook issued by Switzerland in cooperation with the President of the sixty-fifth session.  Japan was prepared to take active part in discussions on how to attain that goal within the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012‑2013.  To raise public awareness of the Assembly’s activities, it was essential to provide press outlets with accurate information that was pertinent to the general public.  Just as the Council President appeared at the press stakeout after almost every consultation, the Assembly President and Chairs of the Main Committees, as well as other relevant parties, such as facilitators of major events, should have more frequent press encounters and stakeouts.


OTHMAN JERANDI ( Tunisia), aligning his statement with that delivered by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that strengthening the role and authority of the General Assembly was a critical element of overall United Nations reform.   Tunisia believed that reform required, among others, the swift inscription on the Assembly’s agenda of urgent and emerging issues relevant to the international community as a whole, which would allow for the Assembly to respond quickly to such global challenges.  He welcomed the quality of many of the Assembly’s debates, and underscored that they must result in concrete outcomes.  Tunisia believed that would also require the recognition of the Assembly’s role in peacekeeping and international peace and security, areas that were not the exclusive purview of the Security Council.  In that vein, he worried that reports submitted by the Council to the Assembly were “descriptive and narrative”, and did not accurately reflect international dynamics or global challenges.  He further underscored the importance of regular meetings between the heads of those bodies, and other United Nations organs, in order to widen and strengthen the exchange of information.


Efforts had recently been taken to improve the working methods of the Assembly, he continued.  However, some proposals concerning the improvement of those methods should be discussed in a more comprehensive manner; those included the rationalization of the Assembly’s work, the granting of better access to Committee web sites to Member States; and the harmonization of best practices among the Committees – which, in fact, had distinct roles and different best practices.  Regarding the election of the Secretary-General, he lauded the work of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, but said that the process by which future heads of the Secretariat were elected should be reconsidered.  Regarding the institutional memory of the President of the General Assembly, he continued that that important Office must be provided with the requisite resources; such resources were critical to allow the President to undertake missions and actions in executing his functions.  Finally, Tunisia supported the creation of a special working group on revitalization, which would be open to all Member States, to evaluate the relevance of resolutions and the identification of obstacles to their implementation.


SHIN DONG IK ( Republic of Korea) said his delegation firmly believed the Assembly should be strengthened as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.  Yet, after two decades of discussing the issue, the Republic of Korea would acknowledge its disappointment that the slow progress “does not satisfy our expectations or our desires.”  He said that all delegations shared the common concern about the Assembly’s marginalization and the need to enhance its standing and work.  Indeed, the 193-member body must be revitalized, so that it could play its proper role as envisioned in the Charter.


With all that in mind, he said:  “The General Assembly’s loss of vitality is the result of the body’s chronic operational shortcomings, rather than conflicts between the Assembly and other United Nations organs.”  That situation could be improved by redressing the Assembly’s managerial practices, such as its adoption of repetitive resolutions, the inability to ensure implementation of its resolutions and its “occasional management inefficiency”.  He also stressed that the Assembly’s relationship with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council should be complementary, rather than competitive, and actions should be taken to enhance cooperation, coordination and information exchange among all the Organization’s principal organs.


He went on to suggest that the Assembly not only needed to reform its working methods and streamline work – by clustering and eliminating items or adding “sunset clauses” to agreed topics on its agenda – but also needed to step up its outreach activities with civil society and the media.  He also suggested that the Assembly should play a greater role in the election of the Secretary-General and that the Office of the Assembly President must be strengthened, including its institutional memory mechanisms and functions.


RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said the important work at hand aimed to underline the unquestioned legitimacy and primacy of the General Assembly as the principal policymaking and norm-setting organ of the United Nations.  It was, however, essential to remain mindful that discussions on General Assembly revitalization did not morph into a ritual that yielded nothing substantial.  Rather, it was important to focus the discussion on the common objective of strengthening the United Nations.  The agenda of the Assembly could be streamlined to better focus debates, and resolutions must be implemented on a non-selective and non-discriminatory basis.  A balance would be necessary in order to accommodate the General Assembly’s desire to have a greater role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, and the requirements of Article 97 of the Charter.


He said it was important to recognize the progress made on improving coordination and interaction between the Assembly and other organs of the United Nations, as well as benefits of briefings by the Secretary-General and the General Assembly President on their priorities and activities.  Pakistan accorded a high priority to the subject of revitalization of the General Assembly.  In order to play its rightful role as envisaged by the Charter, the importance of a renewed political will on the part of Member States and their determination to respect their decisions could not be overemphasized.


JULIO RAFAEL ESCALONA OJEDA ( Venezuela) said that the Assembly had designed and universalized much of international law and the principle of human rights.  Further, the programmes and action plans of main international conferences had provided the most significant reference framework in the universalization of policy in areas including health, decolonization, education and the environment.  Such positive achievements had all been achieved in the General Assembly, he stressed; their positive impact was, in fact, “intrinsically linked” to the will of a wide range of Member States.  But, the people of the world had no voice at the United Nations, and the Assembly, among other bodies, was failing to respond adequately to the challenges faced by humankind.


Indeed, instead of becoming more democratic, the Organization was becoming more elitist.  The imperialist powers that dominated the Security Council were striving to control all the items on the United Nations agenda and to weaken the role of the “G-193”, or the General Assembly.  The Council now addressed matters that were not in its purview, including gender matters, women, childhood, HIV/AIDS and others.  In the fields of peace and security, the Council must not be allowed to impose conditions in that area, while the rest of the world “stands impotent”.


The reform of the Security Council and the revitalization of the Assembly had been under negotiation for nearly two decades, with very little progress achieved, as the same 1945 regime remained in place.  True changes were needed.  Venezuela called for a “recasting that goes far beyond reform”, as well as a review of the constituent basis of the United Nations system.  Such work must aim to strengthen sovereignty and the right to self-determination of peoples.  Currently, three areas seemed to be the main focal points of the revitalization discussion:  the expansion of the role of the Assembly, more inclusiveness in the election of the Secretary-General, and the improvement of the working methods of the General Assembly.  However, those areas were insufficient, in light of the many changes that had taken place on the planet in the last six decades.


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said that despite many efforts during past years to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the General Assembly, those achievements remained far from being accomplished.  Based on reviewing different United Nations resolutions on revitalizing the Assembly, it was evident that a great number dealt with the role and authority of the General Assembly, clearly demonstrating how important the issue was for its general membership.  As to the relationship between the Assembly and other principal United Nations organs, the particular relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council had been a matter of extensive debate, especially during various processes of United Nations reform over the years.


He said Iran was particularly concerned over the exercise of norm-setting, law-making and establishing definitions by the Security Council in areas beyond its competencies.  As per Article 13 of the Charter, the General Assembly was the only universal and representative organ comprising all Member States and was primarily tasked with the progressive development of international law and its codification.  The international community should remain committed and constructive throughout the ongoing process, and his delegation was prepared to actively participate in the transparent, open and inclusive discussion.


ALEXANDER LOMAIA (Georgia) said that the assignment as Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the General Assembly was of great importance to Georgia.  He assured Member States that, in that capacity, his country would help to build on previous progress achieved, and would do its best to take the issue a step forward in strengthening the role and capacity of the General Assembly.  In doing so, Georgia would rely on the support and cooperation of Member States, as well as the groupings thereof.


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For information media • not an official record