Highlighting Urgency of Revitalization, Delegates Say General Assembly’s Status as Most Representative Policymaking Body Must Be Respected ‘in Letter, Spirit’
Highlighting Urgency of Revitalization, Delegates Say General Assembly’s Status as Most Representative Policymaking Body Must Be Respected ‘in Letter, Spirit’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
56th Meeting (AM)
Highlighting Urgency of Revitalization, Delegates Say General Assembly’s Status
as Most Representative Policymaking Body Must Be Respected ‘in Letter, Spirit’
Assembly Must ‘Claw its Way Back’ to Rightful Place at United Nations,
Speakers Say, Decrying Toothless Resolutions, Encroachment by Security Council
The General Assembly must take a more decisive role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, improve its coordination with other United Nations organs, and ensure its resolutions were fully implemented in order to truly live out its intended role as the Organization’s chief policymaking forum, delegates stressed today as they considered ways to revitalize the 192-member body.
Throughout the morning debate, speakers urged the Assembly to take the lead in setting the global agenda and restoring the United Nations’ centrality in formulating multilateral approaches to resolving global issues. They pressed the Security Council to stop muscling its way into matters that traditionally fell under the Assembly’s purview, including international peace and security. The Assembly, too, had a right to address those issues, as outlined in the United Nations Charter, and especially when the Council failed to act.
The first and most crucial step to carrying forward the Assembly’s revitalization was to implement all resolutions on the matter, some said, as well as new proposals adopted during the current session. Many praised the efforts of the Ad Hoc Working Group on General Assembly Revitalization in that regard, but asked that it evaluate the status of all past resolutions. Others called for voting systems to be improved and the institutional memory of the Assembly President’s office strengthened, given the one-year limit on the incumbent’s term of office and frequent staff turnover.
Opening the meeting, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said the importance of such work must not be underestimated. Headway had been made, seen in the fact the President would now be elected at least three months before taking office, allowing for better preparation, and could organize informal thematic debates as a way to position the Assembly in global debate.
Since assuming his duties, he had held regular meetings with the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, he said, and organized informal meetings with the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies to build bridges on issues of shared concern. Pointing a way forward, he encouraged the Assembly to follow the example of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), which had rationalized its agenda, saying an overburdened agenda risked undermining debate. “This initiative is in your hands,” he stressed.
Too often, the public had viewed the Assembly as a forum lacking any serious impact, said Belgium’s representative, on behalf of the European Union. The Assembly would only prove sceptics wrong if Members affirmed their willingness to focus fully on questions that most affected the international community. The exercise must also include trimming the number of resolutions it generated, which would allow for a focus on emerging issues on which the United Nations had been called to take action.
Adding to that point, Singapore’s delegate said resolutions “must have teeth” and the Assembly must be empowered to ensure their implementation. Each year, hours were spent seeking consensus and discussion went around “in circles” on some of the same issues with very little progress. Resolutions required clear action plans, realistic timelines and, most importantly, the responsible commitment of all Member States to act.
India’s delegate said it was particularly important that the Security Council reign in its “extremely wide and permissive” interpretations of what constituted a threat to international peace and security or acts of aggression. It had anointed itself with the duty of dealing with issues, though certainly important, but which left it with less time to examine situations in the real hotspots it was mandated to address. Also, the Assembly must “claw back” to its rightful place in the process to select the Secretary-General, a role that had been limited over the years by the Assembly itself.
Voicing the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on that issue, Algeria’s representative encouraged the Assembly to consult with States to identify and endorse candidates for that position. With that in mind, the Assembly President could convene a meeting to exchange views with the candidates, the outcome of which, including a possible endorsement, could then be sent to the Security Council. As such a mechanism would require a transitional period, it might not apply to the next selection process.
Bolstering that view, Japan’s representative recalled that resolution 51/241 (1997) asserted that “without prejudice to the prerogatives of the Security Council, the President of the General Assembly may consult with Member States to identify potential candidates.”
Also speaking today were the representatives of Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Belarus, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Mexico, Indonesia, Morocco, Iran, Libya, Venezuela and Ethiopia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. Monday, 6 December, to consider the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal).
The General Assembly met this morning to discuss implementation of United Nations resolutions and the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.
Launching the meeting, General Assembly President JOSEPH DEISSS, of Switzerland, noting that revitalization had been a vital issue on the agenda for several sessions, outlined his vision of a strong General Assembly as the main forum of comprehensive debate, one that was broadly shared. The holding of informal meetings — on 15 October and 16 November — to build a bridge between the Assembly and the Group of 20 (G-20), reaffirmed the United Nations’ central role in global governance. Another aspect was to ensure the Organization could meet future challenges and undertake necessary reforms.
Headway on revitalizing the Assembly had been made, he said, noting for example that the President would now be elected at least three months before taking office, allowing for better preparation. Further, the President could organize informal thematic debates as a good way to position the Assembly in the global debate and ensure an efficient working relationship among all stakeholders in global governance.
Since assuming his duties, he had held regular meetings with the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, but as Assembly resolution 64/301 (2010) stated, progress must be made on various fronts, starting with the procedure for appointing the Secretary-General and the Assembly’s working methods.
The importance of such work must not be underestimated, he said, adding also that an overloaded agenda risked undermining debate. An excessive number of high-level meetings only diluted the attention given to each one and, in that context, he underscored efforts of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) for rationalizing its agenda, an example that should be followed by the Assembly.
“This initiative is in your hands,” he stressed, adding that he expected today’s debate to lead to a clear willingness to advance work to revitalize the Assembly. He thanked the Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization and assured them of his support for their work.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, recalled that during the general debate ahead of the current session, the Assembly President had spoken of the importance of revitalizing the 192-member body as a vital United Nations organ. Too often, public opinion viewed the General Assembly as a forum lacking any serious impact. He hoped that the current session would disprove that. However, the Assembly would only prove the sceptics wrong if the Members of the body affirmed their willingness too focus fully on the questions that most affected the international community. The exercise would include rationalizing the Assembly’s work, as well as the number of resolutions it generated, and that would allow the body to devote itself to emerging issues on which the United Nations was called to take action.
The European Union stood with the Assembly President on revitalization effort, he continued, adding that bolstering the United Nations remained one of his delegation’s overriding priorities. As one of the Organization’s main bodies, the Assembly should demonstrate its relevance by working on issues that were in the interest of Member States and the international community in general. In that vein, the European Union supported specific initiatives designed to improve the Assembly’s work, including through resolution 64/301 (2009), which reviewed the status of progress on and took inventory of the revitalization process. He also stressed the important role of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the General Assembly. The European Union also hoped to contribute to crafting a programme of work in that respect.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), underlined the imperative of revitalizing the Organization’s work, with a view to enhancing the role, authority and effectiveness of the Assembly. Calling for the full implementation of resolution 64/301 (2010), he emphasized the importance of information flow, cooperation and coordination among the United Nations’ principle organs. He encouraged the continued holding of meetings between the Presidents of the Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council, and supported efforts to promote positive, effective and balanced working relationships, especially between the Security Council and General Assembly as defined in Article 24 of the United Nations Charter.
Strengthening the Office of the Assembly President was essential, he said, including for its institutional memory. The budget must be adequately allocated, in accordance with existing procedures, while protocol, security services and office space for that official must be provided within existing resources. The appointment of the Secretary-General should be addressed in a manner that was inclusive of all Member States, transparent and with due regard to regional rotation and gender equality.
He urged strict observance to Article 97 of the Charter and encouraged the Assembly President to consult with States to identify potential candidates for Secretary-General to forward to the Security Council. The Assembly should assume a more proactive role in dealing with issues of common concern, including peace, security and economy, as well as in discussion of a new peacebuilding architecture. He welcomed the Assembly’s initiative to convene relevant meetings in response to global crises, including the United Nations conference, in June 2009, on the global financial and economic crisis and its impact on development. In today’s world of multi-stakeholder interaction, it was essential the Assembly’s authority contribute to a strengthened United Nations.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), underlining that General Assembly revitalization was a political process, said it should be conducted in an inclusive, transparent and efficient manner. Emphasizing the need for full respect of the functions and powers of each United Nations organ, and maintaining a balance among them, he said the Security Council must fully observe all Charter provisions and General Assembly resolutions that clarified the relationship between the two bodies. He expressed concern about the Council’s continued attempts to encroach on the Assembly’s powers and prerogatives. Indeed, Article 24 of the Charter did not provide the Council with the competence to address issues that fell within thee purview of the Assembly or the Economic and Social Council.
The Assembly should maintain its role and mandate in setting the United Nations priorities, considering all budgetary and administrative reforms, including its “absolute authority” to allocate and re-allocate financial and human resources, and in appointing senior officials in the Secretariat. The Movement would oppose any approach that sought to undermine the Assembly’s current role. A thorough evaluation of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions and clear identification of the causes of a lack thereof were of utmost importance. The Assembly President’s role had evolved drastically over the years, both in adapting to the growing number of activities and in performing official and protocol functions. The increased workload should be matched with the necessary human and financial resources.
In that regard, he emphasized the importance of ensuring the effectiveness of the President’s Office, including by strengthening its institutional memory. Particular efforts should be devoted to implementing existing resolutions on that matter. In addition, the selection of the Secretary-General must be more transparent and inclusive of all States, and he encouraged the Assembly to consult with States to identify and endorse candidates. A formal presentation before the Assembly of candidatures for that position would allow for an effective and useful interaction. With that in mind, the Assembly President could convene a meeting to exchange views with all candidates. The outcome of those consultations, including a possible endorsement of candidates, would then be sent to the Security Council. That mechanism, when adopted, would require a transitional period and might not apply to the next selection process.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that although Member States had adopted more than 16 consecutive resolutions since 1993 with specific agreed measures aimed at improving and enhancing the Assembly’s work, they had not been implemented. The first and most crucial step to carry forward the Assembly revitalization process would be to implement all previous resolutions adopted by consensus on the matter, as well as new proposals adopted during the current session. The Ad Hoc Working Group should thoroughly evaluate the status of all previous resolutions and the Secretary-General should submit an update on that status, as well as on specific proposals to ensure their full implementation.
He went on to say that the Security Council continued to encroach on the Assembly’s role in many ways. The Assembly should actively respond to emerging situations that endangered global peace and security, as well as use the procedures set forth in rules 7,8,9 and 10 of its Rules of Procedure enabling the 192-member body to take swift, urgent action in that regard. The Assembly’s adoption of resolution 63/301 (2009) on the situation in Honduras and resolutions 64/10 (2009) and 64/254 (2009) on follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict clearly illustrated the Assembly’s ability to take the lead on global peace and security issues without encroaching on the Council’s competence.
That trend, he said, should be encouraged and developed, particularly when the Security Council failed to address cases of genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, grave violations of global humanitarian law, and cessation of hostilities between belligerent parties. It was imperative to enlarge the Council and eliminate the veto, beginning with cases on major crimes. Council members had too much power in the Secretary-General selection process. He called for urgently implementing the provisions of Assembly resolutions 51/241 (1997) and 60/286 (2006), which would allow the Assembly to be more involved at an early stage in the selection process. The veto should not be used in the selection process.
DELGADO SANCHEZ ( Cuba) fully supported the statement made by the delegate of Algeria on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, but wished to add several points in his national capacity. Revitalizing the Assembly was a key element of true reform of the wider United Nations. Until the Assembly realized its true duties, Member States “can not be happy with their work”. The main obstacle to achieving that goal was the lack of political will, demonstrated in particular through the actions of some States. Therefore, revitalizing the Assembly was not a technical matter, as some believed. Despite its large amount of work, the Assembly remained “inert” as a result of such challenges.
Further, Cuba believed that revitalizing the General Assembly must not be limited to speeches, but should apply to actions taken. That should be reflected in the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group this year, he said. Cuba was concerned with the “dangerous trend” of frequent attempts by the Security Council to extend its work beyond its jurisdiction. The Assembly was the central organ of the United Nations, said the delegate, due to its broad and democratic nature. It was also the highest expression of sovereign equality between States. Only a body with those characteristics could address global problems beyond the will of a limited group of States. Global problems required global solutions, he concluded, and the Assembly was the only body capable of accomplishing that.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said the Assembly could be revitalized only when its position as the chief deliberative, policymaking organ was respected in letter and spirit. It should take the lead in setting the global agenda and restoring the United Nations’ centrality in formulating multilateral approaches to resolving transnational issues. The Assembly’s intended role, outlined in Article 10 of the Charter, was to discuss matters relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the Charter, including the Security Council. Pleased with the work done by the Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on General Assembly revitalization last year, he also noted there was “some distance to travel”.
He said it was particularly important that the Security Council not encroach on the Assembly’s mandate through “extremely wide and permissive” interpretations of what constituted a threat to international peace and security or acts of aggression. Indeed, the Council’s agenda was overburdened because it had anointed itself with the duty of dealing with issues, though certainly important, but which left it with less time to deal with situations in the real hotspots it was mandated to address. The balance between the two bodies was only one of the issues that required attention, and he proposed raising them in the Ad Hoc Working Group. The Assembly must have greater say in the selection of the Secretary-General. As it was the Assembly that had limited its own role, that body must “claw back” to its rightful place in that process.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that the principal organs of the Organization needed to work together in close coordination, and in a mutually reinforcing and integrated manner. Focusing solely on individual bodies’ functions and duties was not sufficient, and it was necessary to promote better coordination and collaboration among them in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Charter. Stressing that the Security Council’s work needed to be complemented by the actions of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission for the system to be fully effective, she pointed out that the Assembly itself had to do more to meet the global challenges that beset the international community.
The need to improve the functioning of the governing bodies of the United Nations system was therefore increasingly clear, she continued. Thus, it was crucial that the different entities functioned not only in an integrated, but also in a complimentary way. Enhancing the direct interaction between Member States and the Secretariat should also be at the forefront of the process of revitalizing the General Assembly, she said, adding that the Assembly’s role in the process of selecting and appointing both the Secretary-General and the heads of the major specialized agencies, funds and programmes should reflect its position as the main governing body of the Organization and to ensure transparency.
MURAT TASHIBAYEV ( Kazakhstan) said Member States needed to examine the Assembly’s inadequate performance and offer a constructive strategy to achieve results. A sound, competent Secretariat was vital for implementing the recommendations to revitalize the Assembly and it therefore must be staffed with the most qualified personnel. He commended the Assembly President’s positive initiative to meet periodically with the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council to ensure increased cooperation, coordination and synergy among the three bodies. He expected that the President of the current Assembly session would lead constructive intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, which was among the most acute issues of the Organization’s reform process.
He lauded the use of interactive debates, panel discussions and question and answer sessions in the Assembly’s main Committees to enhance informal, in-depth deliberations and bring together experts from various fields. But such initiatives should not replace reforms intended to strengthen the Assembly’s authority. Kazakhstan had repeatedly voiced strong support for a greater Assembly role in selecting the Secretary-General through debates among Member States and for instituting a procedure that would require candidates to present their views before the entire Assembly. During the 18 June 2010 thematic meeting on strengthening the institutional memory of the Assembly President’s Office, Kazakhstan supported the President’s submission of reviewing the budget allocation and considering establishing a Trust Fund, with an augmented regular budget for staffing, protocol, safety, security and other pertinent issues. He endorsed and advocated intensive and wide-scale media outreach through greater documentation and new technologies to enhanced public awareness about the Assembly’s work and decisions.
ZOYA KOLONTAI ( Belarus) urged a focus on creating conditions for the Assembly’s effectiveness in complying with time requirements of the current international situation. The Ad Hoc Working Group should determine new approaches to the issue of encroachment on the Assembly’s role authority and effectiveness. Political will was required to achieve anticipated results. Practical results had been seen in recent years with thematic debates and interactive dialogues on international issues and she welcomed the early circulation of a list of debates for the current session. She supported enhancing the President’s role, the Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, working methods, and modernization of the voting system.
She also called for analyzing past resolutions to identify weak links in their implementation, calling the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations a universal, democratic forum that should be in the focus of events connected with the legal aspects of United Nations reform. She urged it to improve its efficiency and focus on “what Member States expect” on the legal aspects of the Assembly’s revitalization and broader United Nations reform. Enhancing the Assembly’s role could not infringe on the role and powers of the Security Council, but enhancing interaction with both the Council and the Economic and Social Council would eliminate duplication. “We cannot be allowed to lose the momentum,” she said. Only joint effective efforts would strengthen the Assembly.
ANG ZHONGREN ( Singapore) recalled that Darwin’s law of natural selection emphasized the need for constant adaptation and evolution by species to suit the changing environment, or face the possibility of extinction. “The General Assembly too, must endeavour to demonstrate it’s relevance and adapt to changes in the global environment,” he said. The world had faced many global challenges in the last year, including a worldwide economic crisis and the H1N1 pandemic. Even as the United Nations debated whether it had a role to play in dealing with those crises, it was telling that the delivery of the General Assembly’s core expertise — development assistance — had yet to achieve real effectiveness. That was a sober reminder that the United Nations must do better to meet long-standing and novel challenges, as that affected the struggle of the United Nations to find its role in providing global governance challenges and leadership.
Also recalling that the very words “United Nations” referred to all Member States, each with an equal voice, “united” by common goals and shared vision, he said all nations must “pull together in solidarity at all times”. In order to be effective, he added, resolutions passed by the Assembly “must have teeth”, and the Assembly needed to be empowered to ensure their implementation. Each year many hours were spent seeking consensus in that body and discussion went around “in circles” on some of the same issues with very little progress. Resolutions needed to have “clear action plans, realistic timelines and most importantly, the responsible commitment of all Member States to act”. The Assembly’s work also needed to be reviewed and refreshed regularly to ensure its continued relevance. Member States should regularly review resolutions which had traditionally been tabled in the General Assembly, to ensure that those items were of continued relevance and importance to Member States.
Finally, he said one could not ignore that the heart of reform lay in strengthening the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council. Singapore had stressed on many occasions the need for decision-making to be inclusive, participative, and representative of all Member States. In that vein, the Security Council was neither supernumerary to, nor a body sitting “in isolated splendour from”, the United Nations. In order to more effectively achieve its goals and duty to Member States, it must be transparent and inclusive, with early and increased consultation and participation of all Member States.
SHIGEKI SUMI (Japan) stated that the General Assembly was the most representative organ of the United Nations, and that his delegation had been devoting serious efforts to advancing the process of its revitalization. It was Japan’s firm hope that the relationship between the General Assembly and the other principal organs, such as the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council would be further enhanced and strengthened. Japan highly appreciated the submission of annual reports by the Security Council to the General Assembly and the regular consultations between the presidents of the Security Council and the Assembly. It welcomed the annual report of the Council, prepared by Nigeria, and noted that, as formulated in resolution 64/301 (2010), such interaction had taken place more often in recent years.
In the selection of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Organization should focus on the role of the General Assembly in ensuring transparency of the process, taking into account past Assembly resolutions and existing practices. He recalled resolution 51/241 (1997), which asserted that “without prejudice to the prerogatives of the Security Council, the President of the General Assembly may consult with Member States to identify potential candidates.” He also noted resolution 60/286 (2006), which stated that “the General Assembly encourages the formal presentation of candidatures for the position of Secretary-General in manner that allows sufficient time for interaction with Member States, and requests candidates to present their views to all States members of the General Assembly.”
It would be useful, he continued, to conduct a stocktaking regarding past experiences in implementing those Assembly resolutions in order to facilitate their discussion. Japan was prepared to join further discussion as to how to realize that objective in an efficient and cost-effective manner within the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.
DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country would continue to participate in the Working Group. Full reform of the United Nations could not be achieved without the effective revitalization of the Assembly, its chief deliberative, policymaking body. It was in the Assembly where the sovereign equality of States, a principle on which the United Nations was created, found its clearest expression. The revitalization efforts should aim to ensure its effectiveness in representing the world’s population. The Assembly also should remain vigilant in matters of international peace and security, acting when the Security Council failed to do so, which could be done without usurping the Council’s mandate.
Reasserting the United Nations central role required the Security Council to expand permanent and non-permanent members, with Africa granted two permanent seats. He was pleased that resolution 64/301 (2010) was the first substantive text on Assembly revitalization in almost five years, addressing its authority, role in appointing the Secretary-General, and strengthening the institutional memory of its President. Implementing its recommendations would advance the revitalization process. He urged the schedule of the Ad Hoc Working Group to allow enough time for discussion and conclusion of work in a timely manner. He also urged improving the implementation of Assembly resolutions.
PARK CHUL-MIN ( Republic of Korea) recalled that the 2004 High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had determined that the Assembly had lost its vitality and often failed to focus on the most compelling issues. The Assembly should be revitalized so it could play its intended role. More efforts were required to review existing resolutions, as many had not been significantly revised in decades. He supported organizing the agenda around thematic issues with a view to holding more in-depth discussions that focused on the most pressing challenges and produced action-oriented results. He encouraged the Assembly President to work with States to decide on themes and suggested the body review past thematic debates to evaluate how much value had been added.
Continuing, he said the Assembly must coordinate agendas and thematic debate items with other organs, and in that context, he encouraged the Assembly President to meet regularly with the Secretary-General, the Presidents of the Security Council and Economic and Social Council and Chairs of the Main Committees. He expressed a particular interest in strengthening the role and authority of the Assembly President, and enhancing its institutional memory, given the term of the President and limited number of long-term staff. He supported the idea to request the incumbent to submit a report to the President-elect that included recommendations and lessons learned. In sum, revitalizing the Assembly’s work should be a continuous, action-oriented process.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) stated that, as the principal deliberative policymaking, norm-setting and the one truly universal and democratic body of the United Nations, the General Assembly’s status should be unquestioned. It was therefore an “abiding irony” that the Assembly was engaged in a seemingly endless exercise to have its status recognized ungrudgingly. What emerged, among other things, from deliberations of the Ad Hoc Working Group was that a number of resolutions related to revitalization required either one-time action or procedural adjustment. The fact remained that the Assembly was not enjoying its rightful place in the scheme of things, he said.
The heart of the matter, he continued, was that, barring genuine political will, revitalization of the Assembly would continue to be an exercise “replete with clichés”, while offering little in terms of substance. There was a gap between different stakeholders, and whereas some issues that fell entirely within the Assembly’s domain, they were instead taken up by the Security Council. In regard to the implementation of resolutions related to revitalization of the Assembly, the Ad Hoc Working Group should concentrate on the areas that required action. He said there could be a special unit the in the Assembly President’s Office to assess the status of implementation of various resolutions in the intercessional period.
Additionally, the “much-vaunted” rationalization of the Assembly’s work should be approached with caution, he said. Its agenda should remain open to insertion of new items, and divisive and arbitrary concepts, such as the “sunset clause”, should be eschewed. Regarding the selection of the Secretary-General, there was a need to find a “middle ground” between the Assembly’s desire to have a greater role and the requirement of Article 97 of the Charter. Finally, Assembly President should not be handicapped by un-assured budgetary and human resources. At the same time, strengthening the institutional memory of the President’s Office should not unduly constrain the flexibility in selection of staff by the incoming President.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said the Assembly’s revitalization required political will to come up with substantial short-term results. Important issues were still pending, however, and the co-facilitators document A/63/959 had not been used at all. She supported conducting a review to identify provisions that had been applied to General Assembly revitalization, mainly to point out the reasons why they had not been carried out. Also, the agenda must reflect priorities of the international community and rationalizing it could better distribute the Assembly’s workload. That goal could be only achieved if the Assembly decided on it as a whole. Among the most feasible ways to do that was to deal with items every two or three years.
It was also important to analyse ways to improve voting methods, she said, which should guarantee that the vote was reliable, credible and confidential. Also, the Assembly’s relationship with other organs required more coordination, especially with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. As for the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, she said the process should be more open and inclusive of all States. The Security Council held power on that decision and the Assembly simply sanctioned it. Pursuant to Charter Article 97, the appointment of the Secretary-General fell to the Assembly, after listening to the Security Council’s recommendation. To comply with that article, the Assembly must have prior knowledge of all candidates. Unfortunately, that had not been the practice. Swift, clear and concrete progress was needed in that area.
HASSAN KLEIB (Indonesia), commending the work of the previous co-facilitators and the Ad-Hoc Working Group for steering the “dynamic process” of the working group towards the adoption of the resolution 64/301 (2010), said that text reflected the zeal of Member States to continue reinforcing the gravity of the reform process of the Assembly as a critical United Nations principal organ. He said that several key elements of the resolution should be the focus of Member States’ attention in the current session. Those included: the actualization of the mandate of the Working Group, particularly to undertake a comprehensive review of the inventory contained in the annex to the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group submitted at the sixty-third session; and the identification of further ways to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the Assembly.
Further to that resolution, States should focus on the intent of the text which requests the Secretary-General to 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 in accordance with existing procedures; the importance of the balance among the principal organs, particularly between the Security Council and the General Assembly; and the improvement of the process of appointing a United Nations Secretary-General. On the latter issue, Indonesia shared views, without prejudice to Article 97 of the Charter, on the need for a substantive interaction of the candidates with the Assembly in which due regard would continue to be given to a regional rotation.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored the Assembly’s central place as the United Nations principle deliberative body. In the last 20 years, it had taken steps to enhance its authority, which he welcomed, and had sought to refocus its work, including in international peace and security, combating terrorism and avoiding the resurgence of crises. Various resolutions had allowed for making headway on revitalizing the Assembly, but improving the practices of the major committees, consolidating the President’s role and rationalizing the agenda were strategic goals that required more work to make the Assembly a strong, credible and effective body.
Such work must be carried out in respect of the Charter, he stressed. It also required implementation of texts from its summits and meetings, starting with those on the Millennium Development Goals, and on the Middle East. Under the Assembly’s theme of global governance, States would go to greater lengths to advance the revitalization. Indeed, the international community sought to restore trust in multilateralism, which ensured a balanced treatment of the views of all Member States.
MANSOUR SALSABILI ( Iran) called for a doubling of efforts to find concrete ways to fully realize the Assembly’s functions and powers and to enhance its role and authority. Forming a study group to look at all aspects of the continuous, gradual and constant encroachment of the Council on the prerogatives of the Assembly and other organs could be considered a positive step in understanding and addressing Member States’ concerns. Of particular concern was the Council’s practice of setting norms, making laws and establishing definitions in areas beyond its competencies. According to Article 13 of the Charter, the Assembly was the only universal, representative organ tasked with the “progressive development of international law and its codification”. He noted that the institutional memory of the Assembly President’s Office had a profound link with other substantial issues at hand, but he expressed alarm that since 1998, the Office’s budget had not increased, while the United Nations budget had increase threefold.
He appreciated voluntary funding to correct that budgetary issue, but said an increased regular budget for the Office was needed to ensure predictable, sustainable and impartial funding. The process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General was not out of the Charter’s scope and could therefore be discussed in the Assembly. The Secretary-General’s appointment should be arranged through a process or a systematic series of actions that included giving the Assembly a more meaningful, determined role. Assembly resolution 51/241 (1997) had prescribed provisions to strengthen the Assembly’s role in selecting the Secretary-General. In particular, paragraph 56 reaffirmed the need for a more transparent selection process. The matter was of concern for the entire international community. The Secretary-General’s legitimacy and credibility should be based on the wider support of Member States.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI ( Libya) confirmed the support of the Libyan delegation for the contents of the statement of Algeria’s delegation on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement. It was necessary to carry out the General Assembly’s mandate completely, he said, and to work together to reverse the “encroachment” of the Security Council on the Assembly’s mandate. The end of the Cold War was the reason for that encroachment — a matter that “could not be accepted” in the light of recent changes in the international arena.
Libya welcomed the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group and stated that its focus should be on ways to enforce Assembly resolutions and to halt the encroachment by the Security Council on its work. Those functions should be enhanced and widened. Further, resolutions of the Assembly should be binding, and a concept which should serve as a tool for the implementation of the revitalization process. The General Assembly was the only central body that was representative of all Member States. Consequently, it was truly a “world parliament”, and should not be held “hostage” to the actions of the Security Council. Libya, which had been honoured to have one of its officials preside over the previous session of the General Assembly, felt there was a need to offer further financial support the Office of the President of the Assembly, as present resources were not sufficient for the Office’s work.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), supporting the Non-Aligned Movement, said the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, the role of the Assembly, its relationship with other United Nations organs, and its working methods were part of deliberations on revitalization in the sixty-fifth session. The selection of the Secretary-General was important to the Assembly’s revitalization. Proposals had been made during the last session and the Security Council’s monopoly over that issue was an “anti-democratic practice” that excluded the Assembly from decision-making. The process must be inclusive and involve the Assembly in all levels.
The Secretariat must act in line with Charter provisions on that matter, he continued, which would add to the Secretary-General’s legitimacy. Also, there was a need to stop the harmful trend of exceeding jurisdictions that fell exclusively to the Assembly. “Not everything that happens in the world is a threat to peace and security,” he said. Not all issues should be handled by the Security Council. Strengthening the Assembly required the full exercise of its powers within the framework of international peace and security, as outlined in Articles 10 trough 14 of the United Nations Charter. The Assembly President could count on Venezuela’s support to work with him and the co-facilitators.
ELIAS FELEKE ( Ethiopia) emphasized the need to revitalize the role and authority of the General Assembly to address multidimensional challenges that the global community faced today. Therefore, Ethiopia fully supported the “timely and appropriate” reaffirmation of the central role of the “universal organization”. Further, Ethiopia strongly believed that there was a shared purpose and much expectation of Member States that the Assembly would be revitalized and assuming, as it should, its responsibility as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.
The Assembly’s role and authority in norm-setting, across the United Nations system, in line with the provisions of the Charter, had to be preserved, as well as enhanced. In that regard, he said the growing encroachment by the Security Council in the purview of the Assembly was a concern for many States, including Ethiopia. It was “high time” that that trend was reversed, putting the General Assembly in its rightful place, enabling it to address the issues that fell within its domain.
Regarding the selection of the Secretary-General, he said Ethiopia was of the view that undertaking a comprehensive review of the Assembly’s role in that process was also timely and appropriate. In order to move the Assembly’s revitalization process forward, focusing on urgent and specific issues, including on assessment of the status of implementation of past Assembly resolutions on the issue, was the right approach to bring about tangible progress. Also, the streamlining of the Assembly’s agenda to focus on the most pressing issues and those of the greatest relevance to the membership and the international community needed to be a priority. Regarding the holding of thematic debates on issues of international significance, he said that to avoid overlapping or duplication of discussions across the Organization, emerging issues, including the maintenance of international peace and security, should deserve the utmost attention in agenda setting.
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