|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
48th Meeting (AM)
Member States Consider Ways to Energize, Fully Engage Powers of General Assembly,
Pledge to Restore Institutional Balance with Other United Nations Bodies
Acting on Recommendations of Budgetary Committee, Assembly Fills
Vacancies on Key Administrative, Contributions, Auditing, Investment Panels
The General Assembly’s powers to discuss issues of the greatest concern to its Member States -- from international peace and security, to development, human rights and international law -- should be completely engaged to take advantage of the 192-member body’s full potential, delegations said today as they began their annual consideration of how to revitalize the United Nations’ chief policy-making organ.
A General Assembly that lived up to its status in that way would enhance the overall strength and effectiveness of the United Nations, said Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki in remarks delivered by Assembly Vice-President Tommo Monthe, representative of Cameroon. It was a cause to which he was devoted.
The Assembly’s authority had eroded in recent years, and constructive political dialogue among States was vital to making it more responsive to pressing world issues. “That is a strong incentive for all of us to redouble our efforts to achieve what we all want, a revitalized General Assembly,” he said.
For his part, the Assembly President planned to hold thematic debates in an open, interactive and inclusive manner, as a way to increase the Assembly’s visibility and enhance its relationship with other United Nations bodies, non‑governmental organizations and civil society. With a view to striking a balance among the United Nations principal organs, he had held regular meetings with the rotating Security Council Presidents and the President of the Economic and Social Council to ensure increased cooperation.
In the debate that followed, speakers pointed out various ways to inject more efficiency into the Assembly’s work. As a start, Peru’s delegate suggested curbing the “knee jerk” repetition of matters on its agenda. The Assembly’s work programme revealed a proliferation of items that did not reflect priorities and that, perhaps, could be taken up in other generalized or specific forums. The Assembly should not limit its work to long debates that had “scant” practical effect on the ground. Indeed, the important body must produce concrete, verifiable results.
Similarly, the Republic of Korea’s representative reminded delegates that revitalization had been on the Assembly’s plate for almost 20 years. The agenda clearly had to be restructured, and he urged exploring the idea of eliminating, clustering or biennializing some items. Cooperation with other main organs also should be improved, a point that should be approached from the perspective of “coordination”, rather than “competition”.
That approach would come into full view in asserting the Assembly’s power in matters of international peace and security, some speakers said. Egypt’s delegate stated that the Assembly should carry out its work on such matters, as outlined in articles 10 to 14 and 35 of the United Nations Charter (on the powers of the Assembly), and use, where appropriate, procedures set out in rules 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure (on matter regarding relations with the Secretariat, the Assembly’s meetings, and documentation).
He said the role of the Security Council in the selection process of the Secretary-General encroached on the Assembly’s duties, and he proposed establishing a mechanism that allowed the Assembly President to consult with States to identify potential candidates, inform States of the results, and forward those results to the Council. He pointed to the recent adoption of resolutions on the situations in Honduras and on the recent Gaza Conflict as proof of the Assembly’s ability to take action on issues that fell within that purview. That trend should be enhanced in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
One step could involve strengthening the United Nations budgetary processes, Singapore’s representative said. The current climate of States’ “politicking” in that area had ironically led to more bureaucracy, more wastefulness and a perception that the Organization’s budget was “spiralling out of control.”
He called for a review of the sources of budgetary growth in certain areas and a refocusing of budgetary concerns to a broader and more strategic level. Further, he requested a review of the Assembly’s agenda, specifically in regards to high-level meetings. To ensure States’ participation in such events, issues of both developed and developing countries had to be taken into account. Otherwise, the Assembly’s activities risked becoming a “sideshow” to those events.
Echoing the remarks of many delegates, India’s representative was especially concerned at the Security Council’s encroachment on issues that traditionally fell within the Assembly’s purview -- like standard-setting and codification of international law. The Council also held thematic debates on issues that fell within the purview of the Assembly or the Economic and Social Council. He urged the Council to submit special reports to the Assembly, as outlined in resolution 60/286 (2006).
Ahead of that debate, the Assembly, acting on the recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), appointed several members to its subsidiary bodies and confirmed other appointments.
It appointed five persons to serve on the 16-member Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2010, to fill vacancies that would occur with the expiration of terms of office on 31 December 2009. Those appointed were Jasminka Dinić ( Croatia), Collen Vixen Kelapile ( Botswana), Stafford Oliver Neil ( Jamaica), Mohammad Mustafa Tal ( Jordan), and Nonye Udo ( Nigeria).
Next, the Assembly appointed the following to the Committee on Contributions -- which advises the Assembly on apportioning the United Nations’ expenses among Members -- for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2010: Andrzej T. Abraszewski ( Poland), Elmi Ahmed Dualeh ( Somalia), Ihor V. Humenny ( Ukraine), Meshal Al-Mansour ( Kuwait), Lisa P. Spratt ( United States), and Shigeki Sumi ( Japan).
Turning next to the Investment Committee, the Assembly confirmed the reappointment by the Secretary-General of Emilio Cárdenas ( Argentina) and Linah K. Mohohlo ( Botswana) as regular members of the Committee for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2010. It also confirmed the reappointment of Fernando Chico Pardo ( Mexico) as a regular Committee member for a one-year term beginning on 1 January 2010, and reappointed both Simon Jiang ( China) and Ivan Pictet ( Switzerland) as ad hoc members for a one-year term beginning on 1 January 2010.
For the Board of Auditors -- which audits the accounts of the United Nations, its funds and programmes, and makes recommendations to the Assembly through the ACABQ -- the Assembly appointed the Comptroller and Auditor-General of the National Audit Office of the United Kingdom as a Board member for a six-year term beginning on 1 July 2010.
In final action, the Assembly appointed the following persons as members of the International Civil Service Commission, an independent expert body that coordinates United Nations staff service conditions, for four-year terms beginning on 1 January 2010: Minoru Endo ( Japan), Lucretia Myers ( United States), Gilberto Paranhos Velloso ( Brazil), Wolfgang Stöckl ( Germany) and Gian Luigi Valenza ( Italy). It also designated Mr. Stöckl as Vice-Chairman of that Commission for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2010.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Algeria (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Belarus, Viet Nam, Indonesia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Japan, Madagascar, Colombia, Nicaragua and Iran.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 20 November, to take up the reports of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund.
The General Assembly met this morning to fill vacancies in subsidiary and other organs, and to hold its annual debate on the revitalization of the work of the Assembly.
Statement by the President of the General Assembly
TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon), Vice president of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki, said the renewed commitment to multilateralism, the call for dialogue and the willingness to act together had reaffirmed international confidence in the United Nations. “That is a strong incentive for all of us to redouble our efforts to achieve, what we all want, a revitalized General Assembly,” he said.
Indeed, a General Assembly that protected the strength and effectiveness of the Organization would enhance its credibility, he explained. An Assembly that lived up to its status as the main deliberative, policy-making organ of the United Nations was a priority to which he was deeply devoted.
The Assembly had wide-ranging powers to discuss any questions within the scope of the United Nations Charter, and delegates should make optimum use of that authority to exploit the 192-member body’s full potential. From matters related to international peace and security, to development to human rights, justice and international law, the Assembly must continue to play its rightful role. It had to be more responsive -- and quick -- in tackling the issues of greatest concern. States’ engagement in constructive political dialogue was essential to retaining the world body’s authority, which had eroded in past years.
For his part, the Assembly President planned to increase the Assembly’s visibility by holding thematic debates in an open, interactive and inclusive manner, which would enhance its relationship with other United Nations bodies, non-governmental organizations and civil society, he said.
Thanking the two co-facilitators of the Ad Hoc Working Group on revitalization of the General Assembly, established last year, he said their work had provided a starting point to discuss the most relevant issues. States had underlined the need to achieve an adequate balance among the United Nations principal organs, notably between the Assembly and the Security Council, and negotiations on Council reform could be enhanced by work to revitalize the Assembly.
To that end, he had held regular meetings with the rotating Council Presidents and the President of the Economic and Social Council to ensure increased cooperation. Many States had also underscored the Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and had stressed the need for the Security Council and the Assembly to work “harmoniously” when making that important decision. To continue the work of the past session, he had informed the Assembly that the representatives of Slovenia and Argentina had agreed to serve as co-facilitators for the Ad Hoc Working Group and he was convinced that States would extend them their full cooperation and support.
PER ÖRNÉUS ( Sweden) speaking on behalf of the European Union said that the revitalization of the General Assembly was a high priority for his delegation and an integral component in overall Organizational reform. Such reforms would strengthen effective multilateralism. However, that could only be accomplished if the Assembly addressed issues of “genuine concern to all Members States and to the international community as a whole.” In engaging practical actions toward that, he urged that the efforts of the Ad Hoc Working Group, which he was counting on to advance such reforms, not be duplicated. He drew attention to the inventory chart that contained all relevant proposals on revitalization and at what stage they were in being put into action.
Continuing, he stressed that swift implementation of existing resolutions would further such reforms, including the outcomes from the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit. Further, improvement of the quality and accuracy of Assembly documents in the six official United Nations languages was essential. He requested the Secretariat investigate if eliminating paper versions of such documents would result in savings that could be redirected to quality enhancement.
In regards to the selection process of the Secretary-General he stated the importance of fully applying the relevant provisions of the Charter and respective resolutions of the Assembly. He stated in conclusion the European Union’s full cooperation and continued support toward the Ad Hoc Group’s work toward successful reforms through its active and pragmatic participation.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement said that the aim of revitalizing the General Assembly was to strengthen that body’s role as the chief deliberative policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations. The outcome document of the June Conference on the world financial and economic crisis had established that “a reinvigorated General Assembly is the most appropriate plenary forum to tackle such global issues.” To that end, he noted the swift actions regarding the situation in Honduras, which was a result of the Assembly taking on a greater role of issues of maintaining international peace but which were not on its agenda.
He also said that although Member States should respect the functions of all United Nations organs, that the balance of power needed to be maintained and he urged the Security Council to observe all relevant Charter provisions and Assembly resolutions and to clarify its relationship of the Assembly and other organs. Previous attempts by the Security Council to encroach on the Assembly’s powers were in contradiction to Article 24 of the Charter and were of concern to the Movement. In that regard, he welcomed the adoption of the Assembly resolution 63/309 in 2008, and reaffirmed the Movement’s support and contribution to the Ad Hoc Working Group.
He also called for a thorough evaluation of the status of the Assembly’s resolutions and the underlining causes of any lack of implementation. That was essential to eliminate any constraints that were preventing the full expression of the Assembly’s responsibilities. He also expressed concern over a lack of transparency and inclusiveness in the process of nominating the Secretary-General, a process that appeared to represent the larger powers of the Security Council and its permanent members. To that end, he called for the Assembly’s President to consult with Member States to identify and endorse potential candidates and for these results be forward to the Security Council. In conclusion, he urged caution regarding a new optical scanner balloting system, as he was not sure such a method would protect and preserve the confidentiality and integrity of the voting process.
Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, SOCORRO ROVIROSA ( Mexico) said the resolution adopted by consensus on 14 September 2009 incorporated the main concerns of groups and delegations working under the framework of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly. That resolution and the Working Group’s report showed the commitment by the Membership and the Secretariat to galvanize the revitalization process.
Despite the advances, the Rio Group supported additional efforts in five areas. First, the Assembly should play a more relevant role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General. Secondly, the Assembly should assume a more proactive role in dealing with peace and international security issues, and in relation to the new peacebuilding architecture. The Assembly President’s Office should be institutionally strengthened and existing human and financial resources should be used to their maximum capacity, she said. Regarding the improvement of its working methods, the Assembly’s agenda should be streamlined, perhaps with additional biennialization or triennialization of agenda items. Finally, the Assembly’s manual voting system should operate with greater efficiency to reach major agility in the vote counting process.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), said that despite the importance of revitalizing the Assembly as the United Nations’ chief deliberative organ, no concrete results had been achieved due to the lack of political will to ensure that it play its leading role. The problem between the Security Council and the Assembly lay in the application of their respective mandates. On one hand, the Council encroached on the Assembly’s mandate. It did not bring any matter to the Assembly’s attention and, in most cases, ignored the will of the Organization’s general membership. On the other hand, the Assembly did not satisfactorily exercise its Charter-mandated responsibilities concerning its relations with the Council.
Given that, a focus was needed on implementing proposals adopted in Assembly resolutions and on new proposals to be presented that would prevent the Council from encroaching on the Assembly’s mandate. Highlighting important points adopted at the fifteenth Non-Aligned Movement Summit in July, he urged the Assembly to take concrete measures when the Council failed to address genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or ceasefire between parties. It should maintain its role in setting the United Nations priorities in budgetary and administrative reforms, including its absolute authority to allocate, and reallocate, financial and human resources.
Continuing, he said the world body should work to maintain international peace and security, as outlined in articles 10 to 14 and 35 of the Charter, and use, where appropriate, procedures set out in rules 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. The recent adoption of resolutions on the situations in Honduras and on the Gaza Conflict showed the Assembly’s ability to take action on issues that fell within the purview of international peace and security, and that trend should be enhanced in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
Finally, he urged strengthening the “institutional memory” of the Office of the General Assembly President and stressed that the Assembly remain the principle organ that reviewed the work of its subsidiary organs, including the Human Rights Council. The role of the Security Council in the selection process of the Secretary-General encroached on the Assembly’s duties, and he proposed establishing a mechanism that allowed the Assembly President to consult with States to identify potential candidates, inform States of the results, and forward those results to the Council.
He also supported developing the technicalities of voting and balloting systems applied in the General Assembly, as long as it did not affect the confidentiality of those systems. He did not favour establishing a new balloting system. There should also be follow-up on the implementation of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the revitalization process.
YURY YAROSHEVICH (Belarus) said the Ad Hoc Working Group on Assembly Revitalization had achieved tangible results, notably last year, when it worked out a chart of Assembly resolutions that would serve as a basis for examining reasons why previously adopted texts had not been implemented. Also, the first substantive resolution on Assembly revitalization in years had been adopted. The atmosphere in which the Working Group worked had significantly improved and would generally contribute to restoring trust between the General Assembly and the Security Council. Steps taken to strengthen the Assembly’s main deliberative role was evidence of the effective interaction between the recognized centres of world economic and political power.
Expressing hope that the “P-5” (permanent five) Council members would regard the revitalization process as a way to ensure the health of the system, he said various key ideas should be developed in the Assembly’s current session. First, the Assembly should facilitate consideration of the most pressing concerns -- among them, the Kyoto and Copenhagen climate arrangements, and access of developing countries economies in transition to technologies of new and renewable energy sources. Next, the Assembly’s thematic debates could be more results-oriented, leading to the adoption of a resolution or establishment of an open-ended group on issues discussed. A list of States’ proposals could be drafted.
Continuing, he said public visibility of the Assembly’s work should be improved by cooperating with major media outlets, and Belarus had noted with great interest proposals by the United Nations Correspondents’ Association (UNCA) for the quick delivery of statements to the press and easy access for the media to General Assembly meetings. Consideration of the Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General provides an opportunity to listen to the arguments of “the other side”, absorb them and work them out through decisions the Assembly supported. Modernization of the voting system was another important topic that could lead to a specific outcome, provided that confidentiality issues were taken into account. Finally, he urged continued analysis of the reasons for the lack of implementation of previously adopted resolutions on General Assembly revitalization.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) began by pointing out that 18 years after its appearance on the Assembly’s agenda, the issue of that body’s revitalization had emerged as one of the most important subjects in the process of reforming the United Nations in general and the Assembly in particular. In today’s world, interdependency among nations had grown to a point where no single nation, however big and powerful, could resolve all its problems on its own. The global economic and financial crisis that had been raging all over the world was ample evidence of that.
He said both the full implementation of all General Assembly resolutions as well as the strengthening of the office of the Assembly President remained essential to the process of revitalization. To that end, Viet Nam believed in the necessity to ensure both the sufficient provision and efficient use of financial and human resources for that Office in order to improve its substantive work. Further, the process of revitalization of the Assembly would be gravely deficit without the improvement of the cooperation and coordination between the General Assembly and the other principal organs of the Organization, other international institutions and civil society, as well as among the Main Committees and General Assembly subsidiary bodies.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the slow implementation of existing resolutions was the fundamental reason behind the Assembly not being able to fully discharge its Charter-mandated responsibilities. Greater political will was central to advance the collective efforts to energize the Assembly. Regarding the President’s Office, he said the Assembly should support the strengthening of its institutional memory and functioning from separate and dedicated resources without increasing the overall budget.
To show the Assembly was in sync with the international community and could act decisively, it had to show leadership by taking timely policy initiatives on common issues of concern. For example, he lauded the Assembly’s initiative in convening the United Nations Conference in June and the outcome document on the global financial and economic crisis and its impact on development. The Assembly should also increase its involvement in the United Nations peace architecture. To tackle the complex global challenges of this century, there needed to be cooperation and collaboration among the principal United Nations organs, he said.
He urged delegations to be aware of the links between Assembly resolutions on revitalization and the ongoing process of mandate review and Security Council reform. The selection process of the Secretary-General could be improved and the candidates for that post should interact with the Assembly. Finally, he said support from the Committee of Information and the Department of Public Information was critical to boost the Assembly’s global visibility and its outreach capacity. Therefore, focused communication strategies and interaction with civil society about the issues being considered by the Assembly would contribute to the robust execution of its role.
PETER ALEXANDER LE ROUX ( South Africa) said the Assembly had been frequently marginalized as other United Nations bodies, most notably the Security Council, had encroached on its mandate. Reiterating that the Assembly was the main deliberative and policy-making body of the United Nations, South Africa unequivocally supported the African position reflected in the 2005 Ezulwini Consensus. That called for a stronger Assembly so it could play its proper role as the most representative and democratic body within the Untied Nations system.
He noted the positive developments of the past year, when the sixty‑third session took action on international peace and security issues, such as the resumed tenth Emergency Session on Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, under Uniting for Peace, to discuss developments in Gaza, and its swift action to address the unconstitutional change of Government in Honduras.
South Africa did not want the Assembly to usurp the Council’s role, but he advocated an improvement in the “balance of competence between the General Assembly and the Security Council.” That was especially true with regard to the election of the Secretary-General. South Africa agreed with the Non-Aligned Movement that the procedure established by resolution 11/1 of 1946 should be reviewed, especially paragraph 4c, which determined that the Council should present the Assembly with one candidate, that “debate on the nomination should be avoided” and the nomination and appointment should be discussed at “private meetings”. Those were not characteristic of a democratically functioning organization, he said. Assembly resolution 51/241 of 22 August 1997 provided a slightly more transparent framework for the Secretary-General selection process and this practice should be enhanced, he said.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) outlined three ingredients she believed were necessary for the successful revitalization of the General Assembly. First, the Assembly reform was closely linked to the reform of other principal organs and their working methods. Second, it was important to strengthen the Office of the President of the General Assembly with both financial and human resources. Third, there was need to give proper consideration to the role and responsibility of the General Assembly in the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General.
She said there was no doubt that the issues of visibility and public outreach capacity of the Assembly, its relationship with the Secretariat, new technological and voting/balloting options, media coverage and documentation improvements were of no less importance. Nevertheless, it seemed that it would not be possible to reach the ultimate goal of Assembly reform without agreeing on those three main goals.
Kazakhstan also believed that major global issues such as the financial crisis, and progress on the Millennium Development Goals, needed to be discussed not only at high-level meetings as traditionally held on the eve of the start of the general political debates at the Assembly’s annual sessions, but directly at its plenary sessions, and beyond them. To that end, she reiterated her country’s firm position that a stronger Assembly could help strengthen multilateralism on the basis of the principles of transparency and inclusiveness. Kazakhstan was thus committed to the revitalization of the Assembly’s work as an essential element of the overall United Nations reform process.
PEDRO NỨÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said that as long as the General Assembly could not fully exercise its responsibilities, the United Nations would not have more effective and democratic actions. Revitalization and reform efforts needed to focus on reaffirming the General Assembly as the main body for deliberation, policy adoption and representation, which he noted were “enshrined in the Charter and the Millennium Declaration.” The restoration of the international community’s confidence in the United Nations and its credibility would occur only if the Organization responded to the collective interests of its Member States, and he stated that the first step in that process was by revitalizing the Assembly’s leadership role and strengthening its independence.
Further, he said, the main problem in the Organization was the lack of implementation of the Assembly’s resolutions, an important set of regulations but which depended on the political will of Member States and the capacity of their political and military powers. He also stressed that in order to maintain balance between all United Nations organs, attempts to transfer power from the Assembly to the Security Council needed to end and a strict adherence to the Charter’s provisions on the primary responsibilities of each organ needed to be ensured. Revitalization was a political issue, not a technical issue, he said, recalling former President Brockman’s farewell address and strong implementation of the resolutions on the topic was essential to a successful outcome, an outcome his country was committed to supporting.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru) said today’s world required quick responses and the General Assembly’s programme showed a proliferation of items that did not reflect priorities. Perhaps those items could be addressed by other generalized or specific forums. The Assembly should limit the “knee jerk” repetition of matters it addressed. “We must have a proactive General Assembly,” he said; one that did not limit its work to long debates that had “scant” practical effect on the ground. Delegates must define the essential work to produce concrete, verifiable results.
He also called for fostering a closer link between the Assembly President and other United Nations organs and committees. That official’s greater involvement would lead to a greater ability to reach the public, essential to bolstering the Assembly’s profile in public opinion. It was essential to bolster the capacity of the President’s Office through the creation of an ad hoc team that did not rotate. Doing so would promote a streamlined approach to work that would preserve institutional memory. Such a team could support information management and cooperate in the many coordinating tasks between President and the Chairs of the main committees.
Strengthening the Office of the President also would help his ability to achieve consensus and bring a rapprochement of different views, he said. It was essential for the President to maintain a profile conducive to the important work he must undertake. Regarding an updated chart of Assembly resolutions, he said it should be a results-oriented structure. Those resolutions already implemented could be included in an annex of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. On voting procedures, Peru favoured a secure system that would ensure confidentiality. As for selecting and appointing the Secretary-General, the Assembly should take on a more proactive role. Holding meetings with the candidates, and or with regional groups, could be a first step. In that process, due attention should be paid to gender equality and regional geographic rotation.
NORIHIRO OKUDA ( Japan) said that thematic debates were useful in promoting understanding on the Organization’s priority agenda and particularly welcomed those debates on global issues such as the financial and food crises, problems relating to energy and natural resources, and human security. There should be mechanisms to link such debates to specific United Nations activities, he continued. Further, he stressed that conducting such debates, within the Organization’s limited resources, required careful selection of their subject and content for discussion on a case-by-case basis. He also said that based on the Secretariat’s report, he expected that monitoring of implementation of Assembly resolutions would be advanced.
Welcoming the submission of annual reports from the Security Council and regulation consultations between the Presidents of the Council and the Assembly, as well as timely communications to the Assembly from the Secretary-General, he expressed hope that continuing implementation of those processes would strengthen coordination between the Assembly and the Organization’s other principal organs. He said further that the active discussion by the Assembly and the Security Council on the annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission enhanced the links between those two principal bodies. He also noted that the new voting system under consideration in the framework of the Capital Master Plan should take into consideration the security concerns of Member States and should not entail any additional budgetary requirements.
MUSA FAZAL ( Singapore) noted that the topic of revitalization and other pressing reform issues had been a subject the Assembly had struggled over for some time. Alternative global governance structures such as the Group of 20 (G-20) were expanding their agenda beyond the financial crisis into labour and trade issues, and thus were challenging the relevance of the United Nations. “For Lilliputian States like Singapore, multilateralism has always been a vital defence against the Gullivers on the international stage,” he stated. To that end, it was vitally important that the Assembly’s unique and universal Membership be ensured and the necessary reforms be pragmatically engaged.
Continuing, he said that microreforms needed to also be coupled with macroreforms. One step, he said, could be through the strengthening of the United Nations budgetary processes -- a process in which Member States should participate. However, the current climate of Member States’ politicking in that area had ironically led to more bureaucracy, more wastefulness and a perception that the Organization’s budget was “spiralling out of control.”
He called for an examination of the sources of budgetary growth in certain areas and for a refocusing of budgetary concerns to a broader and more strategic level. Further, he requested a review of the Assembly’s agenda, specifically in regards to high-level meetings. In order to ensure Member States’ participation to such events, issues of both developed and developing countries needed to be taken into account. Otherwise, he noted, “the activities of the General Assembly risked becoming a sideshow” to those events if the Assembly didn’t ensure its efforts be effective and not thwarted by deadlocks and “dogmatic sparring.”
ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY ( Madagascar) said the Assembly was the best context in which to reach a global consensus on major problems and interdependent threats facing the international community. It was an instrument of effective multilateralism, and he urged that any reforms initiated aim to improve those crucial elements. He then turned to the events this past September where his country had experienced “injustice” in the General Assembly by being denied the right to speak during the general debate.
He pointed out that all States were invited to speak and that the issue of his country not being allowed to do so wasn’t included in the Assembly’s agenda. Further the Verification Commission, scheduled to report to the General Assembly in December, had not made any statement regarding his country’s participation in the sixty-fourth session. Therefore, Madagascar maintained the same rights as other States and should have been treated as such.
Further, the exclusion of Madagascar from its rights and privileges, according to the relevant article, required a vote of two-thirds of the Member States in order to be enacted. His country wasn’t under any sanction from the Security Council or the Assembly, and he stated that such treatment in September was a violation of the sovereignty of his State and the rights of the Madagascar people. He denounced such action in light of the rule of law, the sovereignty and integrity of States and the principle of non-interference. Any procedure should have been carried out along the principles of the Organization, and he expressed hope that such a serious incident would not become a precedent in the United Nations.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said greater interaction between the prospective candidates for Secretary-General and the Assembly, including presentation to the plenary and regional groups, would benefit better selection. Coordination among the three principal organs -- the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council -- should be expanded. That work could be supported with greater exchange of information on the work of the bodies, as well as monthly meetings between the organs, and the submission of periodic reports. The challenges stemming from new global realities needed to be addressed in universal forums like the Assembly, and the development of “interactive thematic debates” was a step in that direction.
Supporting the Assembly President’s Office with the provision of required resources would strengthen its institutional memory and better disseminate its work. Other issues, such as the use of ballots, more efficient handling of documents, and new technology to improve the voting system and make it more transparent, should be a priority, she said. It was important to implement the resolutions on “revitalization of the General Assembly” during the current session. She highlighted the request, made in Assembly resolution 63/309, that proposed grouping items on the agenda, so some items could be addressed every two or three years. The introduction of the extension clause would also advance the rationalization of work. Lastly, Colombia supported the development of specific action plans for each thematic area as a task for the Working Group. These plans would let them map out pathways to produce concrete results.
KIM BONGHYUN ( Republic of Korea) reminded delegates that the revitalization issue had been on the Assembly’s agenda for almost twenty years. A more focused approach should be introduced to bring about substantial results in future deliberations. Efforts should be geared towards making the Assembly more efficient, allowing it to cost-effectively use its resources. A thorough review of existing revitalization resolutions was needed to help determine which had been well implemented, which were not and the reasons why. The chart developed during the last session would be a good base. The agenda also had to be restructured with a focus on priority issues and he urged exploring the idea of eliminating, clustering or biennializing some items.
Next, the Assembly should improve its cooperation with other main organs in carrying out competencies, he said, a point that should be approached from the perspective of “coordination”, rather than “competition”. He encouraged the General Assembly President to meet periodically with the Secretary-General, the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and the Chairs of the main committees to help streamline agendas.
Also, he agreed it was desirable to continue holding thematic debates, but said such meetings should produce more action-oriented results. The Assembly President should work closely with States to decide on specific themes and set the timing of those debates in a more transparent manner. The Assembly should review past debates and evaluate how much added value they produced. Finally, a cautious approach in reviewing the election of the Secretary-General was needed and he urged the Assembly President to consult with the Security Council President on that matter. In closing, he said there were several issues on the table that needed further deliberation. His delegation looked forward to the creation of the Ad Hoc Working Group during this session, as called for in resolution 63/309.
MARIA RUBIALES de CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) was firmly committed to the process of revitalization. She said there was much work ahead before the Assembly fully assumed its role as the most democratic body of the United Nations. She praised the work of the former Assembly President d’Escoto, for advocating that all countries had the same right to be heard and the subsequent emergence of the “G-192.” She said the Assembly’s high-level conference on the global economic and financial crisis, as well as the richness of its debate, had showed that the Assembly was ready to discuss all matters. Indeed, that event had dispelled the myth that some matters could only be discussed by a few. The conference had shown that the Assembly was the most appropriate forum to grapple with matters that affected the international community.
She also pointed to the Assembly’s resolution in support of Honduras as an indication of the body’s relevance and the role it could play in maintaining international peace and security. Assembly revitalization must be governed by the principles of democracy and transparency and an open format for consultations was necessary for reform. Some crucial areas of revitalization included the process surrounding the appointment and selection of the Secretary-General, she said. To restore the Assembly’s functions and authority, it also was necessary to strengthen its coordination with other main bodies, particularly the Security Council. The Council should not meddle in matters that belonged to the competency of the Assembly. She added that no decisions regarding a new voting system should be made until the issue was broadly discussed.
ESHAGH ALEHABIB ( Iran) observed that although much had been accomplished in the last 18 years toward enhancing the role of the General Assembly, there were many aspects that still required attention, among them, the streamlining of the relationship between the Assembly and other United Nations organs, and the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General. In regards to the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, a subject of much debate in past years, he noted the situation still called for clarification, especially in light of what appeared to be an encroachment by the Council on the Assembly’s responsibilities.
Further, he expressed concern about the Council’s norm-setting, law-making and establishment of definitions, all of which were beyond its competencies. He recalled the relevant article of the Charter which described the Assembly as the only universal organ representing all Member States and which was entrusted with the responsibility of the progressive development of international law and its codification.
Turning to the issue of selecting a Secretary-General, he stressed that in order “to make Article 97 of the Charter a reality, we can not and should not relegate the General Assembly to play the role of a rubber stamp.” It was clear, he said, that the majority of Member States sought to improve the selection of the Secretary-General by giving the Assembly a more meaningful and determining role in the process. His country was committed to participating in transparent, open and inclusive dialogue so that the comprehensive reform of the United Nations, which was a “dynamic and continuous process”, could continue.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India), said his Government was guided by a desire to have a more effective United Nations -- one that was truly responsive to States’ aspirations. The Organization’s working methods must embody efficiency and transparency. As for the General Assembly, its role as the chief policy-making body must be strengthened and respected, both in letter and spirit. Indeed, the strengthening of procedures, working methods, documentation and follow-up were all important in that regard. Its enhanced visibility and outreach were equally important.
More important, however, was the need to focus on substantive measures and enhance the Assembly’s authority, including in exercising control over legislation, material and manpower. He said the Assembly must have a greater say in the selection of the Secretary-General. Its mandate stemmed from article 97 of the Charter, which envisaged a role for both the Assembly and the Security Council, but the process had come to be governed by paragraph 4(d) of General Assembly resolution 11(1) of 1946, which was created in the context of a post-1945 world.
More than sixty years later, “we live in a different world”, he said. While the Security Council must expand its membership in permanent and non-permanent categories, the Assembly could not remain bound by self-imposed restrictions reflecting a bygone era. Resolutions 51/241 (1997) and 60/286 (2006) outlined proposals on improving that process, which made full use of the Charter provisions on the Assembly’s power of appointment and due regard to regional rotation and gender equality. Political will to consider and implement those changes was necessary.
Finally, the United Nations’ convening power must be used more decisively in setting the global agenda, he said. Of special concern was the Council’s encroachment on issues that traditionally fell within the Assembly’s competence -- like standard-setting and codification of international law. It was also a concern that the Council held thematic debates on issues that fell within the purview of the Assembly or the Economic and Social Council. He urged the Council to submit special reports to the Assembly, as outlined in resolution 60/286 (2006). It was also important that the Assembly have a much greater say in international economic matters and he expected States to continue their engagement in the Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group set up after the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its impact on Development.
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