Second Committee Considers Limits on Speaking Time, Deadlines for Submitting Drafts, as Members Propose Ideas to Improve Working Methods

8 October 2010

Second Committee Considers Limits on Speaking Time, Deadlines for Submitting Drafts, as Members Propose Ideas to Improve Working Methods

8 October 2010
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Second Committee

7th Meeting (AM)

Second Committee Considers Limits on Speaking Time, Deadlines for Submitting


Drafts, as Members Propose Ideas to Improve Working Methods


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to consider whether to impose limits on speaking time during its discussions, set one-time deadlines for submitting draft proposals, and whether to eliminate its general debate altogether, among other ideas proposed for improving its working methods.

Taking up a “non-paper” prepared by the Bureau, as part of the agenda item on revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, Committee members also considered whether they could avoid repetition in the Committee itself and with other United Nations bodies by clustering related topics under one agenda item, discussing items biennially or triennially instead of annually, and discontinuing debates on items already discussed during the July session of the Economic and Social Council.

Furthermore, the Committee mulled over replacing the traditional opening of many of its speaker-by-speaker debates with panel discussions, round tables and other interactive meetings involving delegates as well as representatives of the Secretariat, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and outside experts.

Committee Chairperson Enkhtsetseg Ochir (Mongolia) strongly appealed to delegates to respect deadlines for the submission of draft proposals, saying that delays held up the Committee’s overall work programme as well as the preparation and completion if its reports to the General Assembly plenary.

During the discussion, delegates overwhelmingly stated their desire to maintain the Committee’s annual general debate.  They also agreed on the merits of more interactive discussions and of adhering faithfully to timetables, noting that it was the Bureau’s responsibility to ensure compliance with set time limits.  Members acknowledged that deadlines for submitting draft resolutions, often ignored, must be respected.  However, one representative warned that imposing a single deadline would lead to capacity constraints, particularly for small delegations, suggesting that realistic, multiple deadlines would be a better option.

Some representatives called for more streamlined, focused draft proposals.  One delegate argued that it would be impractical to limit the length of drafts, urging the Committee to discuss more realistic deadlines for submission, taking into account the complexities involved in preparing texts.  But another delegate said that creating deadlines based on the complexities involved could take valuable time away from substantive discussion of draft proposals.

Several delegates said the Committee should continue holding panel discussions, inviting a “healthy” balance of experts from the global North and South.  However, they cautioned against too many panels, which could unnecessarily overload the work programme.

One representative said it would serve the Committee well to eliminate certain sub-items because many draft resolutions overlapped in substance.  Another said that grouping statements together according to agenda items would help save time.  Several delegates supported the call to improve the division of labour between the Committee and the Economic and Social Council in order to avoid unnecessary overlapping.

Responding to those interventions, Nikhil Seth, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, said that, while the Committee’s consideration of improving its working methods was important and should continue, it was not easy simply to replicate the good practices of other Committees.  All topics before the Second Committee were interlinked, he noted.  The fact that members worked on the basis of consensus had its own dynamics, he said, pointing out that a democratic and consensus-based approach was more time consuming.

The Committee’s work would be judged by the timeliness and quality of outcomes, he continued, stressing that if the Committee’s legislation did not add value to the body of external legislation, it might not be necessary.  Committee members should examine the merits of more in-depth consideration of each agenda item.  Regarding the criticism that the Committee’s debates overlapped with those of the Economic and Social Council, he said they complemented, rather than duplicated, each other.

Making statements today were the representatives of Yemen (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), United States, Russian Federation, Guyana and Bangladesh.

The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 October, to begin its debate on macroeconomic policy questions.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.