Amid Corruption Allegations, General Assembly Examines Function of President’s Office, Selection Process for Next Secretary-General

GA/11716
3 November 2015
Seventieth Session, 45th Meeting (AM)

Amid Corruption Allegations, General Assembly Examines Function of President’s Office, Selection Process for Next Secretary-General

In the wake of allegations of corruption against a previous President of the General Assembly, representatives of the 193-member body today debated the function of and the selection to the United Nations highest leadership positions.

Hearing from two dozen speakers from around the globe, delegates largely agreed what the problems were, and proffered a range of solutions to reach goals of transparency, functionality and representativeness.

Also today, the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution related to the recommendations emanating from the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, in the context of strengthening of the United Nations system.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that he had already expressed his shock at the very serious allegations against John Ashe, the President of the sixty-eighth Assembly session, and had also “unequivocally” declared that corruption at the United Nations or in its name would not be tolerated.  “The Assembly must now draw larger lessons from this incident — and act with resolve,” he said, adding that:  “In this effort we can build on a tradition of responding to problems with systemic solutions.”

He welcomed the intent of the United States Attorney to “get to the bottom” of the very serious allegations about the propriety of Mr. Ashe’s conduct, and added that he had taken several specific steps to address the issues raised.  Those steps included requesting an internal audit by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) of the interactions between the United Nations and the entities mentioned in the criminal complaint.  He had asked OIOS to audit any funds received from those entities, as well as any monies disbursed by the United Nations to them, and to determine whether, during the course of the audit, other matters arose which merited further appraisal.

“All of us have a responsibility to work together to make sure that this Organization and its officials comply fully with all relevant rules and regulations, and carry out our duties with full transparency before the eyes of the world,” the Secretary-General said.

It was a focus that was comprehensively echoed by Mogens Lykketoft, President of the Assembly’s current session.  “To further rebuild confidence, I wish also to set out to you, the membership, three principles of conduct that I and my Office will adhere to during my Presidency,” he said, namely: integrity and impartiality, transparency and accountability, and professionalism and effectiveness.

Mr. Lykketoft pledged to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure gender and geographical balance in the Office; provide information about official travel, finances and engagements; communicate openly with the membership and external audiences and comply with all relevant rules and procedures; and run the Office effectively and use resources efficiently, while keeping appropriate records and ensuring a smooth transition to his successor.

The representative of Japan expressed shock and sadness at news that the President of the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session had been arrested amid claims he had taken payments from a Macau-based developer, and asked the current President about measures to restore credibility, as he hailed from Denmark, which consistently ranked as the most transparent country in the world.  Turning to the appointment of a new Secretary-General, a matter which the majority of delegations speaking today chose to address, he expressed hopes that a joint letter from the Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council would be issued as soon as possible, calling for Member States to nominate candidates for the post.

It was high time for the Organization to have a woman or women candidates, for Secretary-General, said the representative of Ecuador, a point echoed by the representative of Brazil, who noted that other ways to address gender parity would be to ensure that the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General were of a different gender.  Romania’s representative approached the issue of representation from a different angle, noting that Member States should take note of the fact that over the past 70 years of the Organization’s existence there had never been a candidate from Eastern Europe.

On succession to the highest offices of the United Nations, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania noted that more could be done to enhance the institutional memory of the Office of the Assembly President, including by exploring the option of allocating dedicated Secretariat staff to complement and reinforce staffing from Member States.  The representative of Kyrgyzstan agreed that the institutional memory should be enhanced, and on the Assembly’s functioning, he suggested that certain items could be discussed on a biennial or triennial basis and other items could be removed from the agenda altogether.

The representative of the United States concurred with that, stating that the Assembly’s agenda must be streamlined and prioritized to remove outdated topics, so as to address issues most in need of its attention.  Indeed, on working methods, the representative of the European Union recalled the need to take steps towards the rationalization of the Assembly’s agenda and that of the Economic and Social Council to eliminate duplication and overlap, and to promote complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar and related issues.

The representative of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of another major regional organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had a specific suggestion on the selection of the next Secretary-General: The Assembly and Security Council Presidents should jointly submit names on an ongoing basis and there should be Arria Formula Council meetings for updates on the nomination process.

Another specific suggestion came from South Africa’s representative, who said that the selection criteria for the next Secretary-General should have as prerequisites proven leadership skills, extensive experience in international relations and strong diplomatic skills.  In addition to that, the Council should recommend more than one candidate so that the best qualified candidates could be chosen, the representative of Algeria said, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Also speaking at today’s meeting were representatives of Estonia (on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group), India, Cuba, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Russian Federation, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Peru.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 November, to conclude its debate on revitalization of the Assembly and begin discussion on the follow-up to the commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Strengthening of United Nations System:  Action on Draft Resolution

The President of the General Assembly, MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), introduced a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening of the United Nations system” (document A/70/L.6).  By its terms, the Assembly, reaffirming its determination to further strengthen the role, capacity, effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations system and taking note of the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations on uniting our strengths for peace: politics, partnership and people, and the Secretary-General’s related report on implementation of the High-level Panel’s recommendations, would decide to give further consideration during its seventieth session to the recommendations regarding the Secretary-General’s initiative emanating from several bodies.  They include: the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and other relevant bodies, in accordance with established procedures and in compliance with their respective purview.

The Assembly approved, without a vote, the resolution.

Implementation of UN Resolutions/Revitalization of General Assembly’s Work

Mr. LYKKETOFT then opened the debate on the implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations and on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.  He said that last week, when celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations, the international community had been reminded of the values, principles and purposes of the Organization’s Charter.  In order to advance those purposes, however, the Assembly’s role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency had to be continuously reviewed and enhanced.

An Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the Assembly’s work had focused its work during the last session on four thematic clusters and identified ways to enhance the Assembly, he said.  On the Assembly’s role and authority, he was working to increase cooperation, coordination and exchange of information with the presidents of the Organization’s principal organs and with the Secretary-General.  On the working methods of the Assembly, significant progress had been made through the sharing of best practices and lessons learned between the body’s six main Committees.

The third cluster related to the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General, he said.  Resolution 69/321 provided clear guidance as to the way forward on that crucial issue.  The Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council would circulate a joint letter to the membership inviting candidates to be presented in a timely way and describing the entire process.  The names of individuals submitted for consideration as candidates, together with accompanying documents, including curricula vitae, would be circulated and the Assembly would conduct informal dialogues or meetings with candidates.  The resolution also stressed the need to fill the Secretary-General post with the best possible candidate.  “In his own view, the inclusion and consideration of female candidates would go a long way towards securing that outcome,” he said.

The fourth cluster, the running of the Office of the Assembly President, had taken on even greater significance given recent events relating to the President of the sixty-eighth session.  The President’s activities had increased markedly in recent years.  While the primary role of the President and his or her Office was to officiate at Assembly meetings, the work of the Office was much more extensive and included the fulfilment of mandates set down in multiple Assembly resolutions.

There was scope for improvement, however, and that should be considered in further detail as a matter of priority by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Assembly Revitalization, he said.  The Secretary-General also intended to establish an internal task force on that overall issue that could also be of assistance.  Consideration could, for example, be given to matters of disclosure, financial independence, staffing and reporting.  Transparency was a matter for each and every President and from the outset he had taken a number of steps to support that objective, he said, including by carrying out regular press briefings or providing information on the staffing of his Office.  On a new transparency page on his website, he was making available an information note on the Office of the Assembly President that built on the President’s Handbook.

“To further rebuild confidence, I wish also to set out to you, the membership, three principles of conduct that I and my Office will adhere to during my Presidency,” he said, namely: integrity and impartiality, transparency and accountability, and professionalism and effectiveness.  He pledged to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure gender and geographical balance in the Office; provide information about official travel, finances and engagements; communicate openly with the membership and external audiences and comply with all relevant rules and procedures; and run the Office effectively and use resources efficiently, while keeping appropriate records and ensuring a smooth transition to the President of the Assembly’s seventy-first session.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that his statement would take up a most serious matter which struck at the prestige and reputation of the Assembly.  He had already expressed his shock, he said, at the very serious allegations against the President of the sixty-eighth Assembly session.  He had also “unequivocally” declared that corruption at the United Nations or in its name would not be tolerated.  “The Assembly must now draw larger lessons from this incident — and act with resolve,” he said, adding that:  “In this effort we can build on a tradition of responding to problems with systemic solutions.”

Reviewing the history of the timing of the election of the Assembly President, he noted that members of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council would in future be elected six months in advance of their terms.  Member States had to improve the functioning of the Office of the President of the Assembly to make it more robustly organized, including the budget supporting the President’s activities.  “We need greater transparency and accountability.  This is essential,” he said.  Welcoming the work of the Permanent Representatives of Croatia and Namibia, he welcomed their reappointment as Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Assembly’s work, and added that he would support them in every way possible.

He welcomed the intent of the United States Attorney to “get to the bottom” of the very serious allegations about the propriety of the conduct of the President of the sixty-eighth session, and added that he had taken a number of specific steps to address the issues which had been raised.  Those steps included requesting an internal audit by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) of the interactions between the United Nations and the entities mentioned in the criminal complaint.  He had asked OIOS to audit any funds received from those entities, as well as any funds disbursed by the United Nations to them.  He had also requested OIOS to determine whether, during the course of the audit, other matters arose which merited further audit.

He said he had established an internal task force, chaired by the Chef de Cabinet, to review the arrangements for the financing and staffing of the Assembly President’s Office.  The task force would recommend ways to promote enhanced transparency and accountability.  He had also requested the heads of the United Nations entities mentioned in the criminal complaint that might have engaged with the entities involved in the criminal complaint to advise him what they were doing to look into the matter.  “All of us have a responsibility to work together to make sure that this Organization and its officials comply fully with all relevant rules and regulations, and carry out our duties with full transparency before the eyes of the world,” he said.

Welcoming the Assembly’s initiatives to involve more stakeholders in its discussions on issues of critical importance to the international community, he noted that interactive thematic debates now included civil society and others whose voices and actions could add great value to the work of the Organization.  In its most recent resolution on revitalizing the Assembly’s work, Member States had set out important measures concerning the process for selecting and appointing his successor as Secretary-General.  Advances such as a joint letter from the Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council soliciting candidates showed the wide-ranging scope of the agenda item under discussion.

MOAHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of fully implementing Assembly resolution 69/321 on revitalization of its work.  Priority was given in the text to the appointment of the future Secretary-General, which called on the Assembly President to play a pro-active role in the process to enhance its transparency and credibility.  The current practice of appointment of the Secretary-General was informal and flexible, having evolved over time.  Assembly resolution 11 (I) had been amended by the provisions of resolutions 51/241, 60/286, 64/301, 66/294, 68/307 and A/69/321.  Those relevant provisions should be fully applied to the forthcoming selection process.

The Security Council should recommend more than one candidate so that the best qualified candidates could be chosen, he said.  The Presidents of the Assembly and the Council should circulate a joint letter to all Member States calling on them to submit candidates.  Endorsed candidates should send a letter to the President of the Assembly and Security Council notifying of their formal candidatures.  The Assembly President should also hold timely meetings of the Assembly for an exchange of views.  The Joint Inspection Unit’s 2011 report on prevailing practices in the election of executive heads of other United Nations system organizations could be applied in the appointment of the next Secretary-General.  As stated in the report, no position was reserved for any Member State and candidates should not be under pressure to give posts in the Secretariat to people of a particular nationality in return for political support.

IOANNIS VRAILAS of the European Union Delegation said the adoption of Assembly resolution 69/321 was a “milestone” in enhancing the transparency and inclusivity of the selection process of the next Secretary-General.  He called on the Assembly President to ensure the necessary follow-up, including the joint letter foreseen in that text.  The holding of informal dialogues or meetings with candidates for the position of Secretary-General was particularly noteworthy in that regard.  Welcoming positive developments that had emerged from the Assembly’s revitalization process, including thematic debates and periodic informal briefings by the Secretary-General, he said that improving transparency and cooperation between the Assembly and the United Nations other principal organs remained important goals.  On working methods, he recalled the need to take steps towards the rationalization of the Assembly’s agenda and that of the Economic and Social Council to eliminate duplication and overlap, and to promote complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar and related issues.  In that context, he pointed specifically to resolution 68/1, and said it was appropriate to further examine the biennialization and triennialization of items, as well as their clustering or elimination, including through the introduction of a “sunset clause”, with the clear consent of the sponsoring State or States.

Turning to the work of the Assembly’s Main Committees, he highlighted efforts by the Chairs of those Committees at the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session to improve their working methods.  Their joint letter, dated 13 April, containing specific proposals to streamline working methods, had proved helpful in making further progress in that area.  Although each Main Committee had its own authority over the rules of procedure, some streamlining and standardizing would lead to more efficient work.  He looked forward to an active role of the Secretary-General, the President of the Assembly — including in his capacity as Chair of the General Committee – and the Chairs of the Main Committees, in consultation with Member States, to enhance coordination for scheduling high-level meetings with the view to optimizing their number and distribution throughout the year while bearing in mind the need to preserve the integrity of the general debate.

RAJA REZA B.R ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating with Non-Aligned Movement, said the seventieth anniversary of the Organization provided an opportunity for its reinvigoration to make it effective, transparent and responsive to Member States.  The Assembly should play its role as the chief deliberative and representative organ of the United Nations.  ASEAN welcomed Assembly resolution 69/321 in that regard.  It also attached great importance to the interaction between the United Nations and regional organizations as articulated in the political declaration adopted on 5 May 2015.  He hoped that concrete measures would follow.

On the appointment of the next Secretary-General, he hoped that Assembly resolution 69/321 would be adhered to for transparency in the nomination and selection process.  The Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council should start the procedure of soliciting candidates through a joint letter to all Member States in a timely manner.  There should be a clear timeline for selection and a schedule for informal dialogue with Member States.  The Assembly and Council Presidents should jointly submit names on an ongoing basis and there should be Arria Formula Council meetings for updates on the nomination process.  In order to strengthen the institutional memory of the Office of the Assembly President, Secretariat staff should be dedicated to assist the transition between Presidents, and interaction between the Assembly President and the Secretary-General.  There should be interaction between former Presidents and President-elects, and a summary of the current President’s work should be provided to his or her successor.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, welcomed the “spirit of compromise” during negotiation of resolution A/69/321, as well as the resolution setting a structured process for selecting the next Secretary-General.  Implementation was key and, as a first step, a joint letter by the Assembly and Council Presidents calling for nominations should be sent to States before year-end.  The focus should be on ensuring that the best candidates were considered.  In that process, all Member States should have the opportunity to hear the candidates’ vision.  Due regard should be given to equal geographical and gender balance, as well as the option of a single non-renewable term.

RAM GOPAL YADAV (India), associating with the statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, regretted that an ineffective Council had meant huge human costs due to wars and conflict.  It was imperative that Assembly resolution A/69/321 be fully implemented.  The issue of preventing encroachment upon the Assembly mandate and making the Security Council more responsive must be addressed.  Security Council debates on thematic issues within the purview of the Assembly or the Economic and Social Council remained an area of concern.  Addressing the selection of the next Secretary-General, he said his country had pressed the Security Council to recommend two or more names to the Assembly.  There was no legal impediment for the Security Council to do so.  Being the voice of the international community, the Assembly must be given a greater say in this matter.

TANIERIS DIEGUEZ LAO (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the democratic nature of the Assembly must be bolstered.  The Assembly had to recover and consolidate its policy-making functions in line with the powers outlined in the Charter.  Sustaining the trust of the international community and the legitimacy of the United Nations required that the Organization respond to the interests of its Member States.  She stressed the need for balance among the principal organs of the United Nations and called for an end to the “dangerous” trend for the Council to encroach on the purview of the Assembly.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Charter offered the Assembly “enormous space” to play its role, especially in peacekeeping, by using the full potential of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.  Pakistan had proposed steps to make the Assembly’s communication with the Council more substantive, with the Presidents of those bodies discussing collaboration and presentation of a more analytical Council report that allowed the Assembly to offer feedback.  The only way to strengthen the Council’s accountability to the Assembly was through increasing its elected members, and in that process, it should ensure that all States were equitably represented on the basis of fixed terms and rotation.  The Assembly should continue progress on the appointment of a new Secretary-General, adhering to the principles of transparency and inclusivity.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) expressed shock and sadness at news that the President of the sixty-eighth session had been arrested amid claims he had taken payments from a Macau-based developer.  “This unprecedented case has severely damaged the credibility of the United Nations”, he said, expressing regret at those events, as Mr. Ashe had advanced the issues of climate change and sustainable development.  He asked the current President about measures to restore credibility, as he hailed from Denmark, which consistently ranked as the most transparent country in the world.  The flow of money from and into the Assembly President’s Office was not fully transparent, as there was no report on how voluntary contributions from States and private sources were used.  On the appointment of a new Secretary-General, he hoped the joint letter would be issued as soon as possible, also encouraging the Council President to circulate a letter explaining that body’s recommendation.  Streamlining the Assembly’s agenda was an urgent task and he proposed integrating items of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), for example, given the holistic nature of the 2030 Agenda.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said improved working methods, early election of non-permanent members of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and strengthening of the Office of the Assembly President had enabled the Assembly to gain prominence, while its high-level debates on peace and security had improved the 193-member body’s relevance.  Resolution 69/321 must be implemented, with more focus on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, as well as on strengthening consultations between the Assembly and regional organizations.  Further, the Assembly’s role in international peace and security should be reinforced.  It should lead on the issues of conflict prevention, advancing peaceful dispute settlement and searching for political solutions.  More work was also needed on issues such as terrorism by non-State actors and human displacement.

XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) said that an issue of great importance to many was the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General.  There should be no automatic proceeding with regard to that selection, and all provisions of the Charter should be followed.  In the selection process, coordinated actions by the President of the Assembly and the Council were of the utmost importance.  Member States should continue to be informed of the presentation of new candidates.  It was high time for the Organization to have a woman or women candidates, for the position as Secretary-General.  The Assembly should play an active role in the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General.  The Assembly should continue discussing those issues and making the selection process more democratic.

ZHAO YONG (China) noted that 2015 marked the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations.  At that new historic starting point, Member States should reflect on how the United Nations could play a role in the advancement of mankind in the twenty-first century.  With 193 Member States, the Assembly was the main policy deliberation organ; its seventieth session built on the past and prepared for the future.  The Charter mandated the Assembly to deliberate matters and make recommendations.  The Assembly should, in accordance with the Charter, improve its division of labour with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, to strengthen cooperation and to form synergy.  China would work with other countries to push for progress.

MICHELE SISON (United States) said that during the sixty-ninth session, the Working Group had discussed many issues of paramount importance, including the process for selecting the next Secretary-General, which was a clear priority for many Member States.  Last year, consensus had been achieved on a resolution that would serve as a strong basis for revitalization of the Assembly’s work.  The selection of a new Secretary-General was always an exciting time for the Organization.  Resolution 69/321 reflected the efforts of Member States to work together constructively.  Looking forward to considering all candidates over the coming months, she added that moving forward, the Assembly’s agenda must be streamlined and prioritized to remove outdated topics, so as to address issues most in need of its attention.  The Charter made clear the coequal relationship between the Security Council and the Assembly, which should be respected.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that realistic measures should be applied to increase the effectiveness of the Assembly.  Its work could be revitalized by improving working methods and reorganizing its agenda, which was currently overloaded.  Some agenda items that were no longer current could be removed.  Events scheduled during the high-level week of the Assembly should be limited as Heads of State and Government had many bilateral meetings to attend during that time.  In that regard, the Assembly President’s plan to organize several thematic debates in May 2016 was commendable.  The selection of the next Secretary-General should be done in accordance with the Charter, and on the Council’s recommendation.  How the Assembly platform would be used during elections should not eclipse the substantive work of the body.  The Russian Federation was not opposed to the Council recommending more than one candidate.  There was criticism that the Council was encroaching on other bodies.  The Russian Federation shared such concerns and had shown restrain in not encroaching on items on the Assembly’s agenda.

MARÍA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed the hope that the selection of the next Secretary-General would proceed in a transparent and inclusive fashion.  A joint letter from the Assembly President and Council should be circulated to Member States with the names of candidates so that their qualities and experience could be assessed.  Formal and informal hearings could give Member States the opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions.  It was very important that women candidates would be considered as that placed the United Nations at the forefront of principles it espoused.  The Group of Friends in favour of a woman for Secretary-General of the United Nations, of which Colombia was a member, believed history would be made in that regard.

AMR ABOULATTA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that important improvements had been introduced to the Assembly’s working methods, notably the early election of the members of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, six months prior to their assumption of responsibility.  There was a need to continue improving the Assembly’s working methods, and in particular those of its six Main Committees, to ensure an efficient management and effective conduct of their steadily increasing workload.  The challenges facing the United Nations today were daunting, from combating terrorism to maintaining peace to achieving sustainable development and addressing the root causes of conflict.  They required enhanced cooperation between the principal organs of the Organization, in a mutually reinforcing and complementary relationship, while observing the balance among their respective functions and mandates as enshrined in the Charter.  On the issue of the appointment of the new Secretary-General, he believed that the Assembly’s “landmark” resolution 69/321 paved the road for a predictable, transparent and merit-based selection process.  Through its adoption, the Assembly had addressed some of the multiple imperfections that had negatively impacted the process for the past 70 years, he said, adding that the challenge now was to ensure its timely and effective implementation.

JEREMIAH N.K. MAMABOLO (South Africa), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the appointment of the next Secretary-General should break with the antiquated process established by Assembly resolution 11/1 (1946).  It was time that the most representative Organization in the world appointed a chief administrative officer in a transparent and inclusive manner taking into account pre-established selection criteria, gender equality and geographic representation.  To that end, the joint letter by the Presidents of the Assembly and Council to start the selection process officially should be done in a timely manner.  The selection criteria, including proven leadership, extensive experience in international relations and strong diplomatic skills were a pre-requisite.  Both Presidents should continuously update the curriculum vitae of prospective candidates and be available for informal dialogue with the broader membership of the Organization on the issue.  The Assembly should be given a prominent role in the process and not merely rubber-stamp the choice of a select few members.

AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan) said the world was facing new issues and priorities that demanded efficient working methods and new approaches.  Today, more than ever, the Assembly must address the needs and interests of all States, particularly of vulnerable groups such as least developed countries, small island developing States and land-locked countries.  The Assembly should be able to bring new and enhanced perspectives to the issues of peace and security due to its comprehensive membership, which would add value to the Council’s work and allow the bodies to complement each other, rather than compete.  The renewed Assembly should be able to solve acute contemporary challenges of wars and conflicts, he said, adding that the central task of the twenty-first century should be to implement a strategy that would completely eliminate wars, their threats and causes.  The Assembly’s agenda would need to be well-conceived, structured and sequenced to obtain optimal outcomes.  “While trying to preserve the principle of consensus, we should avoid weak resolutions and focus debates on substance, not on process,” he said.  It was also critical that the Assembly collaborate closely with the Secretariat for purposes of internal coordination, greater rationalization, streamlining the agenda and avoiding duplication with other United Nations bodies.

ION JINGA (Romania) said that the adaptation process of United Nations bodies would make them more fit for action.  A lot of progress had been made in making the Assembly more efficient.  However, more must be done in rationalizing its agenda.  The selection of the next Secretary-General should be carried out in a more transparent and inclusive manner.  Member States should take note of the fact that over the past 70 years of the Organization’s existence there had never been a candidate from Eastern Europe.  That historical injustice should be rectified.

RAMADHAN MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, underlined the importance of the timely implementation of the important Assembly resolutions.  Lack of implementation only served to undermine the authority and credibility of that important organ and its Member States, he stressed, adding that they should therefore strive for quality — not quantity — and foster a culture of accountability, not impunity.  Welcoming continued interactions with and submission of annual reports by the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Secretariat to the Assembly, he emphasized the need for a “qualitative improvement” in those reports, especially their analytical aspects.  He also welcomed the instructive provisions of resolution 69/321 on the selection of the next Secretary-General, regarding the issuance of a joint letter from the Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council soliciting candidates for that post; the publishing of the list of candidates; and the holding of informal meetings with interested candidates.  Finally, he seconded calls for strengthening the Office of the Assembly President, noting that more could be done to enhance the institutional memory of that Office, including by exploring the option of allocating dedicated Secretariat staff to complement and reinforce staffing from Member States.

ILYA ADAMOV (Belarus), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that Assembly resolution 69/321 had many important elements.  However, it remained be seen whether the resolution would become a “timely catalyst” or one that would never be implemented.  On the selection of the next Secretary-General, it was very important that for the first time in many years small countries would be able to express their views on the candidates.  The Belarus delegation also looked forward to open dialogue with the Secretariat on the daily work of the Organization.  Although that might seem insignificant given the current issues facing the Organization, addressing such details would make the United Nations more effective.

CARLOS DUARTE (Brazil) supported efforts to streamline the Assembly’s agenda and strengthen the President’s Office through adequate resources from the regular budget.  The inventory of resolutions on revitalizing the Assembly must be updated.  Selection of the next Secretary-General should be done in a transparent and inclusive way.  The most transformative aspect of that process outlined in Assembly resolution 69/321 was the fact that Member States would be able to interact with candidates.  The inclusion of women candidates was also an important step forward.  Other ways to address gender parity would be to ensure that the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General were of a different gender.  The next Secretary-General should be committed to women’s empowerment.  In selecting that person the international community must bear in mind the current times.  The Human Rights Council and Sustainable Development Goals had provided a road map for the United Nations work in those areas.  However, the Organization’s work in peace and security faced vital substantive and governance challenges, which should be addressed by the next Secretary-General.  In the selection process, more than one candidate should be proposed by the Council rendering the process more democratic.  The appointments of the Deputy Secretary-General and Under-Secretaries-General should also be more transparent.  The posts should not be reserved for particular Member States, but awarded on the basis of merit.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV (Kyrgyzstan) expressed support for the Assembly as the main deliberative body of the Organization.  It should play a leading role on peace and security, development and maintaining friendly relations between States.  In recent times much had been done to improve its work.  However, there still remained a lot to be done.  Improvements should be made to enhance the Assembly’s cooperation with regional organizations and its agenda should be streamlined.  Certain items could be discussed on a biennial or triennial basis and other items could be removed from the agenda altogether.  The institutional memory of the Assembly President’s Office should be enhanced.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) associated with the Non-Aligned Movement and with the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, and welcomed the reappointments of the Permanent Representatives of Croatia and Namibia as Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group for the present session.  Peru recognized the importance of adopting Assembly resolution 69/321, which recognized the pressing need to review the Assembly’s working methods and referred to the commitment of resources to strengthen the Office of the Assembly President.  Resolution 69/321 was extremely valuable in that it highlighted the role the Assembly had to play, being the only universal organ where all were equally and democratically represented.

For information media. Not an official record.