28 March 2017, New York – 28 March 2017, New York – Statement by Mr. Gerton van den Akker, Chief of Staff, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the General Assembly 71th Session, at the 2nd Thematic Debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly: Working methods of the General Assembly
I have the honor 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 potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Thank you co-chairs for convening this second thematic debate, the Committee chairs for their insightful presentations and Under-Secretary-General Ms Pollard for the very interesting presentation on the revitalization of the UN journal. Almost two years ago we agreed upon a new development framework, the 2030 Agenda. Since, we have been encouraged by the general recognition of the need for reforms within the UN Development System. In this regard we note with appreciation that the process of the Alignment of the work of the General Assembly and ECOSOC on the 2030 Agenda has been started. We wish to reiterate the importance of such steps taken towards rationalization of the agenda of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC in order to reprioritize, eliminate duplication and overlap, and promote complementarity in the consideration and negotiations of similar and related issues. We would also like to emphasize, in this regard, that the Revitalization of the General Assembly should function to reconfirm what has been agreed in the Committee setting, and not renegotiate issues to be true to our principle not to duplicate work ourselves. Within these processes, the leadership of the Chairs and the bureaus of the Main Committees is of great importance. Their efforts, evidenced by their active participation today and in the 69th and 70th session, to improve the working methods in the Main Committees are much appreciated and we look forward to a continued constructive collaboration during the 71st session.
It has been agreed in resolutions 69/321 and 70/305 that there is a need to look further into the biennalization and triennalization of items, as well clustering, elimination, including through the introduction of a sunset clause, with the clear consent of the sponsoring State or States. We believe the President of the General Assembly together with the Chairs of the Main Committees and the President of the ECOSOC can play an important role in finding these synergies, and bringing coherence and complementarity to the GA agenda, including its Committees and the ECOSOC. We value their commitment to help move this process forward.
Whilst having authority over their own rules of procedure we believe the Main Committees should continue to strive for the highest standards and best practices with regard to these rules in order to work more efficiently. An example that supports incoming members of the General Committee is the annual retreat, organized by the Permanent Mission of Finland, where topical issues and best practices concerning the functioning of the General Assembly at large can be discussed. As mentioned by the representative of DGACM during the first thematic debate, we would also wish to emphasize the potential for better interaction between the Secretariat and the Main Committees. Timely issuance of documents and information to support the resolution negotiation process in order to, for example, get timely information about budget implications.
The EU and its Member States look forward to continued active participation of the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, including in his capacity as Chair of the General Committee, and the Main Committees to enhance coordination of high-level meetings to optimize their number, relevance and scheduling while bearing in mind the need to preserve the integrity of the General Debate. We believe that the exploration of concentrating high-level events in a specific period of time, will increase political magnitude of the meetings and encourage more intense high-level participation from Capitals. The General Committee could play a useful role in this process.
Relating to the practical side of the everyday functioning of the Member States and Main Committees, we want to stress the importance of making use of the e-services provided by the Secretariat. We look much forward to the development of a one-stop shop and the online version of the bluebook, as opposed to the current PDF format, and a more user-friendly format for the UN Journal. The presentation given by Under-Secretary-General Ms Pollard, looks promising in this regard and we will study both options and their budget implications very carefully. Other services as UN webcast and the PaperSmart portal evidently have a positive impact on the work of the General Assembly during its main session, and shows how a considerable amount of resources, energy and paper can be saved. In the spirit of saving resources we also encourage the Main Committees to exchange best practices to ensure distribution of documents in all language versions simultaneously in due time, and to adjust document planning and programs of work to avoid, where possible, resorting to advanced copies. We commend the accessibility of the PaperSmart portal, equally in the six official languages of the United Nations and emphasize the importance to continue working in that direction.
In order to ensure revitalization we must take relevant actions, even so important is the implementation of the resolutions of the General Assembly, as to create public visibility and awareness and to fulfil its mandate and deliver on the issues of common concern to the international community.
Finally, let me say that we have made major progress within the process of Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, in which the Ad Hoc Working Group has played an important role. The EU and its Member States will continue to engage in a constructive manner in the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Working Group and look very much ahead to the next two thematic debates organized in this group’s capacity.
I thank you.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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