I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The following countries align themselves with this statement: The candidate Countries Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and the EFTA Country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia.
The EU warmly welcomes the strong and unanimous support by the General Assembly for the establishment of a composite gender entity within the UN system.
The consolidation of the four existing entities into one single structure, headed by an Under-Secretary-General, will strengthen the capacity, accountability and effectiveness of the UN system in the area of gender.
The EU believes that the new entity will bring an important shift to the work of the UN in the area of gender equality and the empowerment of women. On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Program of Action, the decision today to reform the current gender architecture could not have been timelier.
There is wide-spread recognition of the need to improve gender equality and the empowerment of women in order to build sustainable, just and developed societies. Gender equality is a prerequisite for reaching the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals. Meeting the gender related MDG targets is proving particularly challenging. The UN needs to mobilize for these targets to be reached by 2015.
There is also growing realization of the urgency of addressing the needs of women during armed conflict and the essential role of women in peace building and reconstruction.
Through the new entity, the UN will be able to play the central role it must play for the empowerment of women in all regions of the world, meeting the ever-increasing requests by governments for support in this area. It will help close the current gap between the normative and the operational work in the area.
Moreover, it will strengthen gender mainstreaming and help other parts of the UN system to improve their work on gender.
During the past three years, detailed options for the new structure have been debated by Member States, based on information provided by the Secretary-General in earlier reports.
The EU stands ready to work with other Member States to finalize, through a swift process, the remaining details for the new entity. We should set ourselves an ambitious goal, aiming to finish the intergovernmental process in the first quarter 2010, at the latest. We are almost there. There should be no further delays in operationalizing this essential reform.
The EU thanks the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly for their crucial support for gender reform, and urges the Secretary-General, based on todays resolution, to begin the process of appointing the new Under-Secretary-General.
On behalf of the EU, I want to thank the Co-Chairs, my colleagues Ambassador Mbuende of Namibia and Ambassador Yáñez-Barnuevo of Spain, for their tireless efforts in bringing Member States to this consensus decision on the establishment of a new gender entity, and for bringing about progress in other important areas within the System-Wide Coherence Process.
In this regard, the EU warmly welcomes the progress made so far in the areas of funding and governance.
The EU recognizes that improving the governance structures and funding modalities for the UN development work is essential for the UN to be an effective partner for developing countries as they work towards achieving the MDGs. The EU is willing to contribute constructively to further progress in those areas.
In addition, the EU welcomes the acknowledgement by the General Assembly of the interim assessments of progress made and challenges remaining in those countries who are implementing the Delivering as One approach, including the programme country pilots.
The EU will continue to engage also in this area within the System-Wide Coherence Process during the 64th session.
Finally, the EU wants to recognize the essential contribution of civil society during the past three years towards the new gender entity. The ongoing dialogue between States and a wide range of organizations, at country level and at the United Nations, has helped us to identify the gaps, focus our deliberations and alert us to the urgency of reform.
It is essential to find sustainable formats for this important dialogue to continue once the gender entity is operational.
Thank you Mr President.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.