Press Conference by President of General Assembly to Provide Update on Sixty-fifth Session’s Agenda

27 May 2011

Press Conference by President of General Assembly to Provide Update on Sixty-fifth Session’s Agenda

27 May 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by President of General Assembly to Provide Update


on Sixty-fifth Session’s Agenda


General Assembly President Joseph Deiss ( Switzerland) briefed the press at Headquarters today on a wide range of topics, covering his recent travels on behalf of the world body and highlighting his meetings with political groupings and Government officials on matters, such as Security Council reform, global governance and support for the least developed countries.

Mr. Deiss said that, at the beginning of the week, he had attended the Sixteenth Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had also been a commemoration of the group’s fiftieth anniversary.  Held in Bali, Indonesia, the Conference showed again that the modern global governance landscape had become more complex.  New actors, civil society organizations, the private sector and other informal groups of countries, such as the “Group of 20” (G-20), had emerged and were increasingly involved in world affairs.

“In Bali, I reiterated that a global governance system should reflect the new realities of today and effectively address global challenges with leadership, legitimacy and expertise,” he said.  Welcoming the recent admission of two new States — Azerbaijan and Fiji — the President emphasized that, although its membership varied widely in geography, interest and ambition, it was to be hoped that the Movement would remain a “bridge builder” on the international scene.

Before travelling to Indonesia, Mr. Deiss had visited Italy, where, on 16 May in Rome, he had attended a conference on Global Governance and Security Council reform convened by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  “I stated in Rome that, unless Member States find the determination to advance on the Security Council reform issue, the United Nations will lose some of its credibility,” he said.  Stressing that the Organization would be marginalized in the absence of action on the matter, he said important issues would be discussed in other forums and groupings perceived as more efficient and more representative of new realities.  “We must reinforce the United Nations as the central place of global governance,” he added.

Security Council reform would succeed if the process rallied the broadest possible support within the international community, he continued.  Moreover, the outcome of any reform must be in conformity with the most basic values and principles of the United Nations and its Charter — inclusiveness, democracy, accountability, transparency and subsidiarity.  Moreover, changes in the Council’s membership or structure would have to be “simple” enough to be easily understood, not just by politicians and parliamentarians, but especially by those outside the United Nations system, he said.  Further, reform must aim at efficiency and the solution must be workable.

Mr. Deiss said it was now time for Member States to embark on real negotiations and to display a constructive, realistic and flexible attitude that would enable a reformed Security Council not only to address current challenges, but also to adapt to emerging ones.  “Success in reforming the Security Council will be an important contribution to improving our capacity to address global challenges and to creating a world that is safer, more democratic, more representative and more prosperous,” he said.

As for the President’s other travels, he said that earlier in May, he had attended the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, which had been a unique opportunity to make a real difference for the development of those most vulnerable nations.  “I called for a renewed and strengthened partnership of the international community to support the [Least Developed Countries] that are undertaking reforms,” he said, adding that the General Assembly would take the necessary steps in the follow-up to, and monitoring of, the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action.

He went on to highlight upcoming events, including the Assembly’s important High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, from 8 to 10 June.  As of this week, it had been announced that eight Heads of State and six Heads of Government would participate, he said, adding that a number of Vice Presidents and Deputy Prime Ministers would also be present, in addition to 40 Ministers and 14 Vice-Ministers.  The meeting should show the commitment of the Assembly and the wider United Nations to fighting and overcoming the terrible pandemic.

The Assembly would also hold several thematic debates next month, he said, noting that the one on 2 June would address the “green economy”, and that of 28 June “global governance”.  He announced that the thematic debate on “Intercultural dialogue”, planned for 15 June, would be postponed to a later date during the sixty-fifth session.  Finally, he mentioned that on 3 June, the Assembly would hold another informal dialogue with France’s Minister for Labour, on behalf of the French Presidency of the G-20.  Hopefully, such meetings would become more regularized discussions between “the two complementary bodies”.

Responding to several questions on the state of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, and whether consensus could ever be reached on the nettlesome issue, Mr. Diess acknowledged that, with so many proposals having been put forward by different groups over the years, there would probably not be agreement on any single formula.  The challenge would, therefore, be to craft a solution that achieved broad consensus and in which all Member States were invested, he said, adding that every country should be able to feel that there was an improved possibility of its effective participation in the Council’s work.  Further, it would be a “win-win” for everybody if a solution brought the 15-member body into step with current political reality.

Asked about the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood, he said that, while he had heard relevant statements by several leaders, including President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he could not speculate on a matter that was not yet before the Assembly.

However, he set out the procedure for admission to the Assembly as follows:  submission of an application to the Secretary-General and a formal declaration stating that the State in question accepted its obligations under the United Nations Charter; the Security Council’s consideration of the application (any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of nine of the 15 Council members, provided that none of its five permanent members has voted against the application); and the Council’s recommendation of admission would be presented to the Assembly for consideration.  [A two-thirds majority vote is necessary for the admission of a new State, and membership becomes effective on the date on which the admission resolution is adopted].

Mr. Deiss went on to point out that General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947 already provides for the creation of two States — one Arab and one Jewish — at the end of the British Mandate in Palestine.  “The General Assembly cannot take the initiative, but we are ready to do our work, based on any recommendation from the Security Council,” he said, adding that he was holding “very intensive” conversations to ascertain “whether this momentum exists or not”.  Hopefully, the situation would become clearer in June or July, he said.

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