– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
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* and Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset, we would like to join other delegations in expressing our appreciation for your important work in preparation for our meetings, including the updating and streamlining of the inventory of General Assembly resolutions on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. The revised draft, split into two parts, reflects our work as well as remaining shortcomings. In our view, this inventory should continue to be updated on a regular basis, and should also include indications of reasons for non-implementation.
We also would like to thank you for your leadership during today’s session as well as the Chairs of the Main Committees for their very useful briefings on the working methods held in their respective committees together with their input during the interactive session.
The European Union and its Member States remain strongly attached to effective multilateralism with the United Nations at its core.
As we have stated on many occasions, for us, revitalization means a General Assembly more streamlined, more accountable and more effective at dealing with the issues currently on its agenda. In this regard, we are of the view that enhancing the efficiency of the working methods of the General Assembly is key to revitalizing its role and authority. Today’s thematic meeting is thus of particular relevance as it focuses on realistic and practical improvements of the work of the General Assembly.
We would like to reiterate here a point which is of crucial importance to us: we remain convinced that it would be most useful to examine in depth the possibilities for further biennialisation or triennalisation as well as clustering and elimination of items on the agenda of the GA, with the consent of the sponsoring State or States. In this regard, we stress the importance of paragraph 18 of resolution 66/294, which also requests that the introduction of a sunset clause be envisaged. Such important steps would allow rationalizing and streamlining the agenda. Each Main Committee should facilitate this task through evaluating the topicality and frequency of agenda items allocated for its consideration. As we have stressed in the past, the leadership of the Main Committee Chairs and Bureaus should play here a critical role. In this regard we recall the earlier recommendation of this Working Group that the General Committee, meeting in open-ended consultations, shall also consider the further biennialisation, triennalisation, clustering and elimination of items of the customary agenda of the General Assembly and make recommendations thereon to the Assembly. We note that since the adoption of this provision the General Committee has made no such recommendations to the General Assembly. At the same time there is a continued need of not only biennialisation, triennalisation, clustering and elimination of GA agenda items, but also their non-duplication with the agendas of other bodies, such as f.e. of ECOSOC. We could also consider whether duplication of discussions on the same or similar agenda items both in a Main Committee and GA could be avoided.
We note that the General Committee could play an important role on other matters of relevance to GA revitalization. In this connection we recall the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Working Group that at the beginning of each session, the General Committee, following recommendations from the President of the General Assembly, shall recommend to the Assembly a programme of, and format for, interactive debates on the items on its agenda. The Group could explore the interrelation of the thematic and interactive debates.
On the same note, while noting with appreciation the efforts of the Secretary-General and the Secretariat we reiterate the invitation to the President of the General Assembly, in particular in his capacity as the Chair of the General Committee, and the Chairs of the Main Committees, in consultation with Member States, to enhance the coordination of the scheduling of high level meetings, especially of those which are being scheduled near the general debate. The Working Group could also contribute with indicative guidance in this regard. As for the recommendation of this Group at its 66th session on the consolidation of documentation in order to avoid duplication of work, to exercise the fullest possible discipline in striving for concise resolutions, reports and other documentation, inter alia, by referring to previous documents rather than repeating actual content, and to focus on key themes. We reiterate our call for the Ad Hoc Working Group itself to lead the GA revitalization process by showing an example of efficiency and effectiveness, inter alia by submitting more concise, focused and action-oriented resolutions.
As regards the chairmanship of the Main Committees, we would like to stress the necessity to prepare, as soon as possible, a fair, transparent and balanced medium term rotational arrangement for chairing the six Mains Committees starting with the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly. As this issue might be considered to fall under the mandate of our Group, this could be undertaken either by our Working Group or by establishing a separate expert working group with equal representation from all regional groups. Either way we call on the President of the General Assembly to take strong leadership in this regard.
We also would like to reiterate the importance of improving the existing balloting system and the need to adapt it to modern technologies. However, we are mindful of concerns expressed by many delegations in previous sessions of this Working Group over possible issues of security and confidentiality associated with such improvements. We are looking forward to updates from the Secretariat on any new technological developments which could be useful in this regard.
As in previous years, we note with appreciation the efforts made by the Secretariat to reduce the distribution of paper versions of UN documents to the permanent missions; such savings could be used to further improve the quality of these documents, taking into account the requirements regarding their availability in all official languages.
Finally, as in previous years, we strongly support a wider use of internet so that it becomes the main paper-less and cost-effective channel of timely information and distribution of documents. Noting the useful practice of websites of the Main Committees we would like to reiterate our proposal that a dedicated web-site devoted to the General Assembly revitalization be established following the model of the web-sites of the Main Committees, as was mentioned by our Chair in his opening statement today.
We look forward to the continued discussions of the Working Group with a view to achieving concrete value-added results.
I thank you.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.