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16 February 2016, New York – Statement by the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations at the 1st Thematic Debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the General Assembly- strengthening the role and authority of the General Assembly

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Co-Chairs,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Thank you, Co-Chairs, for convening this first thematic debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly, dealing with the role and authority of the Assembly. We welcome today’s insightful briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Ms. Cristina Gallach, on efforts to raise the visibility of the General Assembly and to enhance public awareness of its work. As we all know, the Department of Public Information has a central role to play in ensuring the success of the endeavours of the United Nations in the area of public diplomacy. We are glad to see that issues such as the 70th anniversary of the UN, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights issues, as well as many of our other policy priorities at the UN, are the subject of dedicated thematic campaigns by DPI. We also commend DPI’s efforts to reach out to the peoples of the world in an accessible manner to achieve transparency and accountability. We invite DPI to continue its work in improving its communications in this regard, including by streamlining the different UN websites and considering additional measures aimed at making it easier for all relevant stakeholders to find information and engage.

Co-Chairs,

The European Union and its Member States continue to be committed to revitalization and to supporting efforts aimed at strengthening the role and authority of the GA, in line with the UN Charter and relevant resolutions. Indeed, we wish that the GA, as the only intergovernmental body with universal membership and given its broad mandate with far-reaching responsibilities, is able to take up the challenge of conciliating legitimacy and efficiency in a context of emerging global challenges. At the same time, we wish to reiterate that it is imperative that concrete steps are taken, at all levels, to spend more wisely, to deliver in new ways, including through leveraging the use of new technology and streamlining back-office administrative processes, and to ensure that the Organisation lives within the agreed budget levels. An unceasing effort to find new and creative ways to work is essential to achieve more effective delivery of mandates and sustainable use of resources. We believe that revitalization can be ensured only when the GA takes relevant action on issues of common concern to the international community, helps to tackle these issues, and produces results. By doing so, it lives up to its role as one of the principal organs of the UN.

The GA revitalization process has led to positive developments such as, for example, the practice of holding periodic informal briefings by the SG, and the thematic debates which facilitate more in-depth discussions, often at a higher political level, on current issues of critical importance to the international community. The EU and its Member States especially value the interactive character of thematic debates allowing closer engagement of the GA with other stakeholders, international and regional organizations and groups outside the United Nations system. We look forward to the continuation of this practice and invite the President of the GA to consult with Member States on the possibilities, where appropriate, in the spirit of partnership, engaging a broad range of stakeholders and achieving result-oriented outcomes in such debates. We also recognize the importance of the interaction between the GA and international or regional organizations dealing with global matters of concern to the international community and the benefits to be drawn from such interaction.
As to the relationship of the GA to other principal organs of the UN, we believe that improving transparency, cooperation, and complementarity remains important and invite the PGA to continue working towards these goals. As we have in the past, we welcome efforts to ensure increased coordination, cooperation, and communication among the Presidents of the principal organs, and with the UN Secretary-General. The GA should benefit from information about the meetings between the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Security Council, ECOSOC, as well as with the Chairs of subsidiary bodies. Rationalising the GA’s and ECOSOC’s agendas, eliminating duplication and overlap and promoting complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of related issues are also priorities for us, especially in light of the implementation of 2030 Agenda. There is consensus to move forward on this issue and we really need to make progress during this 70th session. Those are concrete measures that can effectively improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the GA and subsidiary bodies.

Allow me to conclude with a few words on the transparency of the GA and its work. Increasing awareness of this body and its important work to the “outside world,” whilst being mindful of costs, plays a useful part in strengthening this UN principal organ’s role and its perception. To this end we support enhanced interaction between the GA and civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and commend the Secretariat’s outreach efforts by creating and updating the GA revitalization website in all six official languages. Today’s world needs partnerships more than ever.

Co-Chairs,

Let me emphasize the important role the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly plays. I would like to assure you that the EU and its Member States will continue to engage in a constructive manner in the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Working Group.

I thank you.


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

Ref: EUUN16-011EN
EU source: European Union
UN forum: General Assembly
Date: 16/2/2016

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