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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.

Summary: 3 March 2015, New York – Statement delivered by H.E. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the United Nations General Assembly – 69th Session First Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly

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Mr. President,

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*, Iceland+, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

The European Union and its Member States welcome the convening of the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.

The EU and its Member States also take this opportunity to warmly thank the previous Chairs, the Permanent Representatives of Slovakia and Thailand, and to further thank the President of the General Assembly for his appointment of the two Co-Chairs for the present session, the Permanent Representatives of Croatia and Namibia. We look forward to supporting them and wish them every success.

Mr. President,

Effective multilateralism with the UN at its core remains close to our hearts, so it is only natural that we welcome any effort to increase the efficiency and functioning of the GA, the only intergovernmental body with universal membership. As a principal organ of the UN, we must all ensure that the GA can take action on matters of common concern to the international community and produce results. Given this important role, it follows that this assembly should strive continuously to revitalize itself. We therefore thank the two Co-Chairs for convening this first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group today.

In the forthcoming months this body will consider the four clusters that presently make up the GA Revitalization discussions. The EU and its Member States look forward to an exchange that, with the guidance of the Co-Chairs, will culminate in tangible results. On the role and authority of the General Assembly, we recognise the importance of the interaction between the GA and international or regional fora and organizations dealing with global matters of concern to the international community and the benefits to be drawn from such interaction. We welcome efforts aimed at increasing the visibility and transparency of the GA’s work and how it uses its resources. In particular, we see great benefit through the GA increasing its interaction with civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

The working methods of the GA present us with a number of opportunities for improvement. The early convening of this meeting sets the right tone for a better distribution of meetings, such as the Thematic Debates, over the year. On the Chairs of the Main Committees, we welcome the reiteration of the interim arrangement on the rotation mechanism adopted in General Assembly decision 68/505, in connection with guidelines for future arrangements in the annex of resolution 68/307. Also, we would like to stress the importance of the implementation of all resolutions of the General Assembly, including on the revitalization of its work, and note its impact on the authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the General Assembly. Resolution 68/1 on the strengthening of ECOSOC calls for the need of the GA and ECOSOC to rationalize their agendas with a view to eliminate duplication and overlap and to promote complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar or related issues. Other areas to explore further include the early elections of Committee Chairs, the role of the bureaus of the Main Committees, the management of the process to negotiate resolutions, and the possibility of biennialization of items or to merge similar resolutions. The positive impact of e-services such as the PaperSmart portal, not only ensure the expedient distribution of documents, it also saves considerable resources and cuts waste.

We recall the need for transparency and inclusiveness of the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, and stress firmly the provisions in Article 97 of the Charter in this regard. We look forward to an in-depth discussion of the issue, which is doubtless of particular relevance this year with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and with the appointment of the next Secretary-General foreseen for 2016.

On the functions of the Office of the PGA, efforts to strengthen the institutional memory of the office remain of great importance and are to the benefit of all of us. To this end, efforts to encourage cooperation between incumbent and incoming PGAs could prove most useful. With the evolving work load of the GA, the EU and its Member States are firmly committed to identifying and implementing possible improvements for the effective and efficient functioning of the office.

Finally, let me emphasize the importance that the role of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of General Assembly plays. I would like to assure you of the continued willingness of the EU and its Member States to engage in a constructive and useful manner in the work 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.

+ Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.

  • Ref: EUUN15-024EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: General Assembly (including Special Sessions)
  • Date: 3/3/2015

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