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New York, 7 October 2011

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to meet with you this morning.

I would like to congratulate Ambassador Michel Tommo Monthe of Cameroon on his election as the Chairman of the Fifth Committee. Ambassador Tommo Monthe has vast diplomatic experience and has skilfully chaired other Main Committees of the General Assembly. I have great confidence in his able stewardship of your important work.

I would also like to congratulate the other members of the Bureau for their election. And my gratitude to the Secretary of the Committee, Ms. Sharon Van Buerle and her team for facilitating the work of the Committee. I also appreciate the improvements made by the Secretariat on the Fifth Committee's website. 

On this day in history - October 7, 1944 - the first blueprint of the UN was prepared at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Washington D.C. The myriad of challenges faced by the world today makes it imperative for the Organization to continue to remain adept and responsive.

With this realization, I have identified ‘UN reform and revitalization’ as one of my main areas of focus this session.

Any sincere efforts towards UN reform and revitalization cannot succeed without ensuring the following pre-requisites:  

Firstly, the provision of financial and human resources;

Secondly, the authority, oversight and accountability;

And thirdly, the political will to support and implement the reform initiatives.

The important task of addressing these critical factors falls in the capable hands of the Fifth Committee.

Having been a part of the UN family for the last two decades, and having personally negotiated the critical issues of this Committee’s agenda, I attach great importance to this Committee’s work.

In carrying out its duties under the Charter, the Committee has traditionally acted very responsibly. It has adhered in a remarkable fashion to the principle of consensus as the basis of its work.

The biennium budget, peacekeeping budget, scales, and human resources management are among the many crucial issues addressed by the Fifth Committee. The Committee has recommended to the General Assembly a large number of landmark resolutions on almost its entire agenda, for adoption without a vote. 

In this regard, I commend the contributions made by the Member States through their robust engagement of the Committee’s work. I also greatly admire the hard work and dedication of their experts in resolving by consensus the challenging items on the Committee’s heavy agenda, within specified timeframes.

The 66th session being the budget year, the Fifth Committee bears a heavy responsibility. I am confident that under the able Chairmanship of Ambassador Tommo Monthe, the Committee will reach consensus and deliver optimum results in a timely manner. 

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

The efficiency and effectiveness of the Committee’s work and decision-making processes are of great importance to a large majority of the UN membership. 

It would be, therefore, appropriate for the Committee to reflect and identify areas where progress can be made in its organization of work.

Also in the context of the reform and revitalization of the General Assembly, there is a broad recognition of the need to improve the working methods of the Fifth Committee. There is almost complete consensus on this issue among the Member States, regardless of their positions on other aspects of the the Committee’s work.

While identifying a new set of measures would help contribute to a healthy debate, the implementation of existing ones will be an important step in the right direction.

In this regard, I would emphasize that respecting the closing date for the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee – that is, Friday 9 December, 2011 - would bode well for the Committee’s credibility as a responsible body.

The timely disposal of the Committee’s agenda of course depends to a large extent on the positions and priorities of its members.

Just as the Secretariat has the responsibility to put forward well-thought-out proposals, it is important that Member States have a focused approach to their negotiations. Inaction and delay in the consideration and decision-making process does not reflect well for the policy-makers of this world body.     

Relying more on interactive sessions, negotiating in good faith, understanding each other’s concerns and priorities, and working as part of the same team will lead to timely decisions.

And this would not only save the Organization of its scarce resources that are used for conference services and publications. It will also contribute to the improving the overall working environment.  

As the President of the General Assembly, I am deeply committed to promoting a spirit of cooperative multilateralism. This is the essence of the Charter. 

The commitment we make to strengthen and advance the work of the General Assembly and the Organization will be a lasting legacy for future generations.

I wish you success in your efforts.

Thank you.


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