Remarks by Ambassador Tomas Anker Christensen, Chef de Cabinet of the Office of the President of the General Assembly of the 70th session at briefing for stakeholders on the PGA’s High Level Thematic Debates
9 February 2015
Thank you Mr. President.
The first of the three events is a High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the SDGs on 21 April.
As you know, this meeting will take place back to back with the high level signing of the Climate Agreement on 22 April.
The aim of this event is to drive action to support implementation during this crucial first year.
It will therefore focus, not on the what but on how we actually get implementation underway; and on who needs to take action to make that happen.
We will look at what member States are doing to get national level implementation under way and we will also look at some of the key means of implementation including on finance, technology, data and partnerships as well as at climate-action.
In terms of stakeholder participation:
- A dedicated registration process has been set-up online for all stakeholders wishing to participate in the event: csonet.org.
- The meetings will be broadcast live online.
- UN DESA NGO division, in partnership with NGLS will also launch a speaker selection process.
- And three speakers – each representing CSOs, NGOs and the academic/science community – will be selected to engage in the discussion around National Implementation.
- We also expect to have civil society participants engage on the other issues and these will be selected by my office based on the specific issue which we wish to bring focus to.
- In addition, in advance of this event, my Office is running a google page on our website in order to collect virtual inputs from stakeholders across the globe.
- Finally, we will encourage the moderators to give opportunities to civil society during discussions with participants.
I urge you all to do what you can to make this event a success.
The second high level thematic debate will take place on 10-11 May and will focus on the Peace and Security pillar.
With reviews on-going in relation to UN peace operations; the UN Peacebuilding architecture; and on women, peace and security, this 70th Session offers a unique opportunity to discuss ways to strengthen the UN’s overall engagement in the field of peace and security.
Each of these reviews was inspired by the sense that the UN needs to keep pace with and respond to evolving challenges and threats to international peace and security.
It is in this spirit that the President’s May event will take place. It will offer member States a platform to draw out synergies from the recent reviews and to galvanize efforts to translate them into concrete conclusions.
It will help member States to begin to formulate a new vision on the UN’s role in the field of peace and security.
Of course member states are certainly not the sole preserve of wisdom on this subject.
We are therefore encouraging a wide range of stakeholders including think tanks, civil society organisations, and individual experts to organize meetings and seminars to inform this High-level Thematic Debate.
A series of regional workshops and experts meetings are taking place in Brussels, Brasilia, Geneva, Cairo, Addis Ababa, Shanghai, Monrovia, Accra and lastly New York.
And their conclusions will be presented during the high-level thematic debate and inform the discussion.
While these workshops are being organized independent of the Office of the PGA, in order to maximise their reach, all relevant information is available on the PGA’s website.
We are still in the process of determining the arrangements for stakeholder participation at this event, but our hope is that it will be on a par with that of the April event.
The third debate will take place on 12-13 July focusing on the Human Rights pillar and, in particular, on the United Nations’ critical role in this field.
It takes place as we mark the 50th anniversary of the international human rights covenants and as many people grapple with the relationship between the obligations arising out of these covenants and the SDGs themselves.
This event therefore seeks to address a number of crucial 21st century human rights issues such as tackling discrimination against women and broader patterns of inequality; strengthening the foundations for human rights in terms of good governance, the rule of law and access to justice; and addressing how best to support the active participation of citizens, human rights defenders and others in society.
We are also considering holding a dedicated segment on the current humanitarian and refugee crisis which can serve as a bridge between the World Humanitarian Summit in May and the Summit on migrants and refugees taking place next September.
This event will provide an opportunity to highlight how action globally to realize human rights can and is contributing to progress on peace and security and sustainable development.
We hope that we can demonstrate that while making progress on some of these issues is not easy, many governments and others are taking action to unlock the potential for significant improvements.
Many of you here today are of course at the forefront of the human rights movement. You or the people you represent know first-hand how difficult the current environment is for human rights defenders so we are relying on your support to help make this event a genuine success.
In this regard, we are engaging with a number of external actors to see whether some preparatory meetings are needed.
And finally, again, we will do all we can to ensure high levels of stakeholder participation in the event itself.
To conclude, we have tried to instill the spirit of last year’s processes in the preparations for High Level Thematic Events and where possible, in other UN processes taking place this year.
We are however extremely keen to avoid the creation of talk-shops which duplicate other UN fora, waste resources and ultimately make little contribution to improving our world
Your engagement and your activism around these events can greatly help us in this regard.