17 September 2018
Seventy-second Session, 116th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Sets Agenda for Seventy-third Session, Adopts Resolution on Strengthening Policymaking Role, Improving Working Methods

The General Assembly today adopted a resolution related to the ongoing process aimed at revitalizing its work, while also allocating a list of items for consideration at its seventy-third session, slated to open formally on 18 September.

Acting without a vote, the 193-member organ adopted a draft resolution titled “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”, contained in paragraph 89 of a report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on that matter (document A/72/896).  By its terms, the Assembly decided to establish, at its seventy-third session, an ad hoc working group on the revitalization of its work — open to all Member States — aimed at identifying ways to enhance the Assembly’s role, authority effectiveness and efficiency.  Also by its terms, the Assembly reaffirmed issues related to its role and authority and working methods; the selection and appointment of the Secretary‑General and other United Nations executive heads; and strengthening the accountability, transparency and institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly.

Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria), speaking on that item on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, underlined the importance of revitalizing the Assembly’s work.  Noting that the issue — a political process, rather than a procedural one — is aimed at strengthening the Assembly’s role as the United Nations chief deliberative policy-making and representative organ, he stressed that the process should be conducted in an inclusive, democratic, transparent and efficient manner.  Of particular importance are such issues as streamlining the Assembly’s agenda, improving the practices and working methods of the Main Committees, enhancing the role of the General Committee, strengthening the role of the President of the Assembly and enhancing the Assembly’s role in the process of selecting the Secretary-General, he said.

“More efforts should be deployed, with the support and the political willingness of all Member States, […] to overcome the persistent divergences” related to the Assembly’s four interconnected clusters, he continued.  Flagging the fact that clarifications are still missing on those matters — in particular concerning the method applied to the Main Committee’s Co-Chairs and the Secretariat in establishing the pattern of rotation — he expressed regret that, despite various efforts, those challenges have not yet been tackled.  In that vein, he called for a thorough evaluation of the status of Assembly resolutions and a clear identification of the underlying causes behind any lack of implementation, emphasizing that strengthening the Assembly’s work will ensure that the organ becomes a “true, universal parliament of nations”.

Arisoa Lala Razafitrimo (Madagascar), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the latter has shown a great deal of flexibility in the lengthy negotiations on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.  Emphasizing that Assembly resolutions 69/321, 70/305 and 71/323 are the cornerstones of the revitalization process, she expressed concern that constraints still exist which prevent the process “from putting forward all its potential”.  Echoing calls for a full investigation into the status of Assembly resolutions and the identification of any underlying causes behind any lack of implementation, she also urged Member States to show more flexibility and underlined the imperative need to look forward to a more empowered Assembly “without encroachment on its powers and functions”.

Gerardus Van Den Akker, speaking on behalf of the European Union delegation, said the bloc decided to join in the Assembly’s consensus on the revitalization resolution in light of the matter’s increasing importance.  Expressing regret that language on civil society participation could not be maintained in the text and that no agreement could be reached on language related to the allocation of dedicated Secretariat staff to the Office of the President of the General Assembly, he nevertheless expressed the European Union’s commitment to work closely with other delegations in taking the issue forward. 

Also today, the Assembly decided to include various items in the draft agenda of its seventy-third session, slated to open formally tomorrow.  Those include:  “Prevention of armed conflict”; “Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution”; “Zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic”; “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”; “Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte”; “The situation in Central America:  progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development”; “Question of Cyprus”; “Armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo”; and “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)”.

The representative of Armenia stated her delegation’s decision to disassociate itself from the inclusion of “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” on the Assembly’s agenda.

Other items which the Assembly decided to include in the agenda of its seventy-third session are:  “The situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti”; “Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security”; “Consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait”; “Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965”; “Implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations”; “Strengthening of the United Nations system”; and “Financing of the United Nations Mission in East Timor”.

The Assembly further decided to include two items on the provisional agenda of its seventy-fourth session, to begin in 2019, namely:  “Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies” and “United Nations reform:  measures and proposals”.

An item titled “Elimination of unilateral extraterritorial coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion” was deferred to the Assembly’s seventy-fifth session.

In other business, the Assembly decided that the upcoming high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis will be held on the second day of the general debate at its seventy-third session, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  It further decided that the meeting’s opening segment will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and its plenary segment will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. today to formally close its seventy‑second session.

For information media. Not an official record.