|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Director of General Assembly,
Economic and Social Council Affairs Division
The head of conference management for General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs briefed journalists today on those bodies’ new work programme decided upon in the wake of last week’s disruptive hurricane that had caused flooding damage to the United Nations New York Headquarters and forced its closure for three days.
Speaking at a Headquarters news conference, Ion Botnaru, Director of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs in the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, said storm-related events had hampered the work of the General Assembly’s plenary and six Main Committee meetings during the busiest part of the sixty-seventh session.
“Due to the efforts, flexibility and creativity of all parties involved — the Secretariat, as well as Member States — we were able to find a way to overcome the loss of those three days”, he said, adding that just two days ago, the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) ended the main part of its session with 59 resolutions approved. The plenary’s new programme of work could be found in document A/INF/67/4 Rev.1.
As for next week, he said the General Assembly would hold elections for the Human Rights Council on 12 November. Later that week, on 14 November, the Council’s annual report would be considered by both the plenary and the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
On 13 November, he continued, the plenary would consider the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, and its related resolution. Later in the week, the Assembly would hold a joint debate on the annual report of Security Council, along with the question of equitable representation in the Security Council. Last year, those items had been considered separately.
The General Assembly would have before it the Secretary-General’s report on cooperation between United Nations and regional organizations on 19 November, Mr. Botnaru told reporters. “Lately, the cooperation between the United Nations and regional organization has been going very well”, he said, adding that a number of draft resolutions were under discussion.
A new date — 27 November — had been set for discussion of the situation in Afghanistan, he said. On 29 and 30 November, the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East in the General Assembly would be taken up. Finally, in the beginning of December, the plenary would take action on the incoming reports of its Main Committees.
Taking questions, first on the Assembly President’s comments that Security Council reform would not be the Assembly’s top priority, Mr. Botnaru said the President usually appointed a facilitator of intergovernmental negotiations after their debate on the matter.
To a question on whether there were enough countries co-sponsoring the Palestinian request for upgraded membership, Mr. Botnaru said his office would address that issue only after a draft resolution was tabled with the Secretariat. States must first negotiate the issue, issue an “L” document and collect sponsors. Then, at the request of the sponsors, a plenary meeting would be scheduled. He said a draft text could emerge when the Assembly considered the question of Palestine and the Middle East. But generally, it was too early to answer the question.
Taking questions on the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and a budget for Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi, Mr. Botnaru said those issues were outside the authority of his division. His department was ensuring that all reports were issued timely, in all languages, and available on the website. Everything was being done to facilitate the Fifth Committee and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
To a question on printing services, he said he was not aware of any reforms to cut down on printing. If something could be done better with fewer resources, “we have to do it and plan in advance”, he said. His department must satisfy its clients, Member States.
* *** *