In Two Texts, General Assembly Establishes Political Forum to Replace Commission on Sustainable Development, Reaffirms UN Role in Global Economic Governance

9 July 2013

In Two Texts, General Assembly Establishes Political Forum to Replace Commission on Sustainable Development, Reaffirms UN Role in Global Economic Governance

9 July 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly


91st Meeting (AM)

In Two Texts, General Assembly Establishes Political Forum to Replace Commission

on Sustainable Development, Reaffirms UN Role in Global Economic Governance


Secretary-General, Paying Tribute to Stoyan Ganev of Bulgaria, Says

He Brought ‘Welcome Energy’ to Forty-seventh General Assembly Session

The General Assembly this morning adopted two resolutions by consensus ‑ the first outlining the format and organizational aspects of a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, as mandated by the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last year, and the second reaffirming the role of the United Nations in global economic governance.

Emphasizing the need for an improved and more effective institutional framework for sustainable development, the Assembly decided, in the resolution submitted by its President, that the High-level Political Forum should provide a dynamic platform for regular dialogue and for stocktaking and agenda-setting to advance that process. 

The new Forum, consistent with its universal intergovernmental character, should also provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, and review progress in the implementation of related commitments, and enhance integration of the sustainable development’s three dimensions in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner.

In a related provision, the Assembly recommended that the Economic and Social Council abolish the Commission upon the conclusion of its twentieth session ‑ whose timing, agenda and duration was postponed from May, pending progress on the format and organizational modalities of the Forum.

Further to the wide-ranging resolution, the Assembly decided that the meetings of the Forum would be held, under its auspices, every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government for two days at the beginning of the Assembly session, resulting in a “concise negotiated political declaration” to be submitted to the Assembly for its consideration.

The Forum would convene annually for eight days, under the Economic and Social Council’s auspices, with a thematic focus reflecting the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, in line with the thematic focus of the activities of the Council and consistent with the post-2015 development agenda.

Prior to consideration of the resolution, a representative of the Secretariat drew attention to a statement of the Secretary-General on budget implications (document A/67/927), which amounted to $741,800 for the biennium 2014-2015.

Many delegations took the floor following the text’s adoption to express support for the Forum.  A number of speakers, including the representatives of Liechtenstein and Benin, welcomed the universal, intergovernmental nature of the new platform.  The representative of Kazakhstan called it a “landmark” for the United Nations and the delegate from Belarus similarly described it as a “milestone” in systematizing all the elements of sustainable development.

Meanwhile, the representative of Venezuela, also expressing support for the resolution, said that there should be significant “dovetailing” between the Millennium Development Goals and the sustainable development agenda.

The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), cautioned that the establishment of the Forum, per se, would not fulfil the aspirations laid out in Rio; it would be the level and quality of the participation of Member States that would determine its success.

The representative of Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that he had hoped that a stronger mechanism for the follow-up and implementation of the commitment made to small island developing States could have been explicitly anchored in the Forum’s formatting and organizational aspects.  The Alliance expected such a mechanism would be created.

For his part, the representative of the United States said that his delegation was dismayed and disappointed that the Secretariat had, just last night, provided an oral statement with extensive requests for budgetary resources.  The representative of Japan echoed that sentiment, expressing regret that negotiators had been forced to make a decision before being provided sufficient budgetary information.  In a similar vein, the representative of the European Union delegation worried that there had been no mention in the resolution of how the costs outlined for 2014 and 2015 would be absorbed.

Meanwhile, several speakers, including the representative of Switzerland, warned that the process of strengthening the Economic and Social Council should in no way alter the new Forum’s mandate.

Also today, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution entitled “The United Nations in global economic governance” (document A/67/L.73).  By its terms, the Assembly ‑ stressing that the financial and economic crisis had highlighted the need for reform and added new impetus to international discussions on the reform of the international financial system and architecture ‑ reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations system in ongoing efforts to find common solutions to such challenges.

Further to the text, the Assembly recognized the importance of the interaction between the Secretary-General and the Member States regarding the participation of the Secretary-General in summits of intergovernmental groupings that make policy recommendations or take policy decisions with global implications, including the summits of the Group of 20 (G-20).

At the same time, the Assembly expressed serious concern at the lack of progress in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and reiterated the call for the necessary flexibility and political will in order to break the current impasse in negotiations.

Introducing that resolution, the representative of Chile said that a transparent system was vital in finding solutions in the area of the global political economy.  Emphasizing the instrumental role of multilateralism in tackling global challenges, he said that efforts should be made to strengthen the role of the United Nations in global governance through regional and subregional forums, which promoted development and cooperation, and an international trade system based on norms and standards.

Following the adoption, the representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Global Governance Group, emphasized that the United Nations must remain the cornerstone of global governance, where global standard-setting exercises took place.  Meanwhile, the representative of Venezuela underscored that no intergovernmental grouping should be favoured over another, and that there should be no meetings of intergovernmental groupings that compromised the General Assembly.

The representative of the United States welcomed the resolution as sending the “right signal” of encouragement to the United Nations to continue to play a complementary role to other international processes and forums.  He emphasized, however, that his country would not interpret the language of that document as endorsing a formal United Nations role in decisions affecting international financial institutions.

Vuk Jeremić, General Assembly President, took the floor to highlight the importance of the two resolutions, which he said had historic significance and wide-ranging implications for the United Nations.  On the establishment of the High-level Political Forum, he reminded the Assembly that work was also needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  By that date, he said,we should have a single, integrated development agenda,” and not two parallel tracks.

On global governance, he went on, today’s resolution was a notable step, representing the first time that the United Nations had assigned a role to a grouping of the world’s leading and emerging economies ‑ namely the G-20 ‑ in achieving sustainable development.  The resolution established a link between the G-20 and the United Nations, which would serve as an inclusive, consultative platform for countries to share concerns and information and present their views.

Also today, the Assembly paid tribute to the late Stoyan Ganev ( Bulgaria), who had served as President of the forty-seventh General Assembly session.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his condolences to Mr. Ganev’s family, saying that, as one of the youngest Presidents of the General Assembly, he had brought a “welcome energy” to the post.  Mr. Ganev’s tenure had coincided with a period when the United Nations, freed from the constraints of the cold war, had been able to act and engage in new ways to address global problems.  Having met him several times, the Secretary-General said, “I feel a certain kinship with his service”.

Mr. Jeremić recalled Mr. Ganev’s “remarkable” contribution in serving his country and having played an outstanding role in the United Nations.  He had guided 179 Member States in tackling several issues in the last decade of the twentieth century, taking up items ranging from regional disarmament to Somalia to United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Mr. Ganev would always be remembered for his unwavering commitment to the principles of the United Nations, he added.

Also participating in the tribute were the representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Solomon Islands (on behalf of Asia Pacific States), Poland (on behalf of Eastern European States), Uruguay (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Iceland (on behalf of Western European and Other States), and Bulgaria.

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