20 February 2018, New York – Statement by Mr. Gerton van den Akker, Chief of Staff, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly on Agenda Item 121: Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
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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, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Thank you, Co-Chairs, for convening this first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly. I would also like to thank H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly, for his valuable remarks.
At the outset, let me congratulate H.E. Mr. Vladimir Drobjnak on his now third reappointment as co-chair which is a testament to his and H.E. Ms. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh’s excellent work done in the Ad Hoc Working Group of the 71st session of the General Assembly. I would also like to congratulate H.E. Ms Mejía Vélez on her appointment as co-chair for the 72nd session of the General Assembly. We look forward to engaging constructively also in this year’s working group and wish you success for the work ahead.
We have seen ground-breaking achievements in the last two resolutions this working group has produced. Resolution 70/305 contains significant new elements that strengthen the accountability, transparency and institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly. Particular progress was seen in the introduction of an Oath of Office to be taken by the PGA, and by establishing a Code of Ethics to be observed by the PGA and members of his office. Resolution 71/323 builds on this progress and contains new elements aimed at improving the working method of the General Assembly, including the invitation of the President-elect of the General Assembly to meet incoming members in order to view the proposed programme of work of the main committees, an improved rapport between all Chairs of the Main Committee, incoming and outgoing, with an emphasis on the frequent exchange of information pertaining to best practices and lessons learned, and the discussion between all Member States prior to each regular or special session in relation to the organization of high level meetings and other activities. Additionally, all information within the Journal will now be published in the six official languages throughout 2018, and a webcast of all Ad Hoc Working Group meetings has been established. All these and other elements will ensure that the effectiveness of the working methods of the General Assembly are enhanced.
Turning towards the work that lies ahead, we believe that the emphasis on this session’s resolution should be consolidating the work achieved so far. Effective multilateralism with the United Nations at its core remains key to the European Union and its Member States. In the context of the global challenges we face, supporting the SG in his reform efforts to strengthen the UN remains our top priority. In this context it is imperative that concrete steps are taken, at all levels, to spend more wisely, to deliver in better and more efficient ways, and to ensure the organisation lives within the agreed budget levels. With this in mind we continue to be committed to the revitalization process and to supporting efforts aimed at strengthening the role and authority of the GA, in line with the UN Charter and relevant resolutions. We believe that revitalization can be ensured only when the GA takes relevant action on issues of common concern to the international community and produces results. But we can do a better job in streamlining our work, including reprioritization and the elimination of overlap where necessary.
We would like to recall the urgent need to take steps towards the rationalization of the agenda of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC to eliminating duplication and overlap and promoting complementarity in the consideration of similar and related issues. We would also like to re-emphasize the need to further examine the biennialization and triennialization of items, as well as their clustering or elimination, including through the introduction of a sunset clause, with the clear consent of the sponsoring State or States.
Finally, let me emphasize once more the important role of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of General Assembly. 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.
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