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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

30 November 2016, NewYork – Statement on behalf of the Member States of the European Union by Mr. Jan De Preter, Counsellor at the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, 71st Session of the General Assembly Fifth Committee: Supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

– As delivered –

Madam Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Member States of the European Union.

Madam Chair,

allow me to thank Mr. David Nabarro, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for introducing the report of the Secretary General on Supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda SDG and Addis Ababa Action Agenda (A/71/534), as well as Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for introducing its related report.

Madam Chair,

at this stage we would like to make some general observations in response to this report and the corresponding recommendations of ACABQ, and we look forward to the informal consultations on this issue.

We are pleased that the current report attempts to present a comprehensive and UN Secretariat wide approach in response to the mandate given by the General Assembly in Resolution 70/248C and we appreciate the effort made to encourage UN entities to work more closely together.

The member states of the European Union are firm supporters of the 2030Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a global framework for action of unprecedented ambition. We are proud of the outcome achieved last year. The Agenda should be transformational for all actors, including the UN. We have to go beyond business-as-usual, and engage in an effort of restructuring, reprioritizing, redeploying, streamlining and stepping up system-wide-coherence, efficiency and effectiveness.

We are determined to contribute to the implementation of this new overarching framework. We are also committed to ensuring strong mechanisms to follow-up on, and review the implementation of, these landmark agreements. In doing so, the system must follow the guidance of member states, and the new Secretary General.

Resolution 70/1 on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development clearly states that implementation of the agenda should take place primarily at the country-level, and is the responsibility of individual Member States. EU member states are determined to deliver at home, and to contribute to international efforts to support others to deliver. The entities of the UN Development System should assist Member States in implementing the SDGs, including through the UN Country Teams. The UN Secretariat has an important role to play when it comes to monitoring, accountability, follow-up and review. But even within the UN, entities other than the Secretariat will lead on offering support for SDG implementation. The Secretariat should not seek to play an implementation role as this will only lead to more duplication and competition for scarce resources within the Development Pillar. We do not believe that the Development Account or the Regular Programme for Technical Cooperation are effective mechanisms to strengthen UN support for Agenda 2030 implementation. The proposed so called strengthening of the development account and of the regular program of technical cooperation, including the proposed expansion of eligibility, has not been mandated by member states. The Development Account is not as transparent nor as grounded in real results as other entities of the UN development system. We should not divert much-needed funds from more effective UN delivery mechanisms, nor create more fragmentation within the system.

The soon-to-issue QCPR will help to set the tone and make specific requests on reform. We also want to see the system acting upon requests that member states have already made. OP 16 of GA Resolution 70/299 asked the Secretary General to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of DESA. In response to requests in GA Resolution 67/226 and from the ECOSOC, UNDG agreed in April 2013 to implement system-wide cost-sharing to support the Resident Coordinator system. It is unacceptable that these two clear mandates are being ignored.

In reviewing this report and its proposals, we see many proposals and recommendations but miss an overview of existing capacities and capabilities within the Secretariat, with their perceived link to existing mandates. If we had this baseline, we could discuss additional resource needs to support monitoring and accountability. In the absence of such benchmarks however, it is impossible to properly assess the budgetary asks. Furthermore, the report makes no attempt to consider the possible redeployment of existing resources, which is troubling given that all development staff in the Secretariat must have previously been working on activity relevant to Agenda 2030.

Overall, we ask the Secretary General to more thoroughly consider ways of ensuring the Secretariat’s alignment with the new Agenda in a coherent, effective way. In doing so, he should not be shy about making bold efforts in terms of reprioritisation of mandates and reorganisation of structures.

In this regard, it has to be noted that we have repeatedly highlighted that the role of Regional Economic Commissions, in support of implementation of the agenda, is clearly set out in Resolution 70/1. Paragraph 80 of this states that follow-up and review at the regional and sub-regional levels can provide useful opportunities for peer learning, including through voluntary review, sharing of best practices and discussions on shared targets. It also states that is up to all of us to identify the most suitable forum for follow-up and review at regional level. For some, the UN Regional Commissions can and should play a role in the above contexts; for many, the role of the UN regional commissions will only be complementary to that happening in other fora. We think this is an important principle worthwhile recalling. Either way, we would recall that Rule 153 of the UN Charter requires the Secretariat to clearly set out any costs arising from decisions made by member states, and we express deep disappointment that this rule was not adhered to in 2016 negotiations involving the role of the Regional Economic Commissions on supporting Agenda 2030.

I thank you, Madam Chair.


* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN16-203EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fifth Committee - Administrative and Budgetary Committee
  • Date: 30/11/2016

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