General Assembly President outlines progress on UN World Summit issues

17 November 2005 –

United Nations Member States are ready to step up talks on decisions made by world leaders at the September 2005 World Summit in New York in the areas of peace-building, terrorism, human rights, development and UN management, the President of the General Assembly said today.

"What I think we have now behind us is a period of setting the stage, a period of mapping the positions, and of course, this is the period when Members States established negotiating positions as clearly as possible," General Assembly President Eliasson of Sweden said at a Headquarters press briefing after six weeks of work.

"What we now are entering, and that's why I wanted to see you at this juncture, is a period of more intense negotiations," he told correspondents.

The issues that took precedence, he said were those which were given deadlines in the Summit outcome document, which called for a Peacebuilding Commission to be in place by the end of this year, a new Human Rights Council around the same time, and a comprehensive convention on terrorism during the current session of the Assembly, which ends on 30 September 2006.

In regard to the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Eliasson said the final stage of negotiations had been reached and a draft would be presented to delegations at informal consultations tomorrow. Next week, reactions to the draft would be solicited to resolve the two outstanding issues – reporting lines and membership.

On creating an effective and more objective Human Rights Council to replace the existing Human Rights Commission, he said an options paper had been prepared, listing all possibilities, which would be pared down until a single resolution remained. Intense negotiations would be held every two or three days beginning next Wednesday, he said.

"Headaches" on the question remained election method, size, composition and transition from the existing Commission to the Council, he said. There was general agreement that the Council would be in session year round.

The right to self-determination and to resist occupation are contentious issues as they relate to the proposed terrorism convention, he said. Negotiations on a text were close, but the difficulties of those two issues could not be underestimated.

The other two issues on which the heads of State had given the Assembly a mandate to make progress on by year's end were reform of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and UN management reform, he said, including budget, accountability and oversight issues. Those were also being given a great deal of attention partly because of the spotlight created by the Oil-for-Food scandal and other problems.

Other issues such as human security, revitalization and reform of the Security Council were also under consideration, Mr. Eliasson concluded. But the focus remained on meeting the deadlines of issues that were given a time frame.

"It is time to prove that we take this document, the document of our leaders, seriously, and translate those words into concrete action," he said.

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