I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
We would like to thank you for convening this meeting to discuss the functions of the Office of the President of the General Assembly including strengthening its institutional memory, and its relationship with the Secretariat. We also would like to thank you for the excellent work you have made with the help of the Secretariat with regards to the second revision of the inventory/chart.
The General Assembly has noted several times that the activities of the President of the General Assembly have increased markedly in recent years, in line with the evolution of the GA’s workload. Accordingly, the role of the Office of the PGA, which is to support the President in the discharge of his/her responsibilities, has also evolved. We therefore welcome the measures adopted following the recommendations of the Working Group with a view to strengthening the Office of PGA. We encourage their further implementation. To further discuss the role and strengthening of the Office of PGA, it is important to clearly understand the evolution and present scope of the function of President of GA. The Secretariat might help the Membership in this regard by outlining the existing legal and procedural framework as well as practice.
Briefings by the President of the General Assembly on his recent activities, including official travels, continue to be an appreciated practice that serves from our perspective as a valuable source of information and transparency for the broad Membership. Indeed, transparency and accountability for all stakeholders shall be a guiding principle of the President of GA and his/her Office, as he/she represents all Member States during his/her official meetings and visits and shall do it with full responsibility and credibility.
We have long underlined the importance of enhancing the institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly with regard to ensuring coherence and continuity of General Assembly activities.
We believe that a cooperative relationship between the principal organs of the UN and their leadership, and with the Secretariat, is of vital importance for the functioning and, consequently, for the effectiveness of the UN. In this context, we encourage periodic meetings between the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC to ensure increased cooperation and coordination. Information provided by the President of the General Assembly to Member States on substantial issues raised during such meetings would further enhance transparency and ensure better coordination.
We also would like to underline that ensuring efficiency is necessary in the smooth transfer of responsibilities between the outgoing and incoming Presidents of GA. We note with appreciation the recent practice of outgoing Presidents of the GA briefing their successors on the lessons learned and practices in conformity with resolution A/66/294, as well as previous resolutions, and encourage them to also share their views and recommendations with the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the GA. In this regard, we welcome today’s very useful briefing by Ambassador Šahovic. In this context I would like to mention the Retreat “Towards a Stronger General Assembly” to be organized 11-12 July by the Permanent Mission of Finland in close cooperation with the DGACM . The retreat serves as a platform for the incoming PGA and General Committee to exchange views with the outgoing PGA and General Committee and familiarize themselves with the work of the GA.
We also consider that the existing “PGA Handbook” is a useful tool to be built on and we would very much welcome, at the end of each GA sessions, that the President share his or her views about his or her term. We suggest that a dedicated section on General Assembly Revitalization be established as part of the PGA web-site in order to preserve the memory of the process. Additionally, we are willing to explore the idea of implementing a comprehensive computerized documentation and archiving system that could facilitate the maintenance of files and increase cooperation and coordination.
We thank Messrs. Launsky-Tieffental, Adlerstein and Botnaru, for their substantive input to our discussion. In particular, we welcome with appreciation the considerable efforts undertaken by DPI with a view to increase the visibility of the work of the GA, including wire-agency style news stories by the UN News Center in all official languages, comprehensive press releases of all meetings of the GA, its Main Committees and subsidiary bodies as well as many other initiatives such as communication via social media platforms, the new smart phone educational app, the Creative Community Outreach Initiative and the training programme for journalists. These are all excellent initiatives which inscribe themselves in the broader effort towards the revitalization of the work and status of the General Assembly.
I thank you.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area