UN: EU Statement on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly - Report of the Secretary-General (A/61/483)

UNGA 61st Session; Agenda Item 110: Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly - Report of the Secretary-General (A/61/483)

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the European Union

New York, 13 December 2006

Madame President,

The European Union would like to thank the Secretary General for his report presenting an overview of the status of implementation of the resolutions regarding the revitalization of our work in the General Assembly and its main committees.

The European Union believes that the role and authority of the General Assembly has benefited from the revitalization efforts carried out under the leadership of a number of General Assembly Presidents over the past 15 years. Most recently, last September the Ad Hoc Working Group on the General Assembly revitalization completed its work, after six months and several rounds of negotiations, and adopted Resolution 60/286 containing further decisions aimed to improve its efficiency and its effectiveness. The EU would like to take this opportunity to thank the Co-Chairs of the Working Group, His Excellency Mr Abdullah Alsaidi, Ambassador of Yemen and Her Excellency Mrs Solveiga Silkana, Ambassador of Latvia for their valuable work.

Madam President,

Any reform requires all parties to agree upon, and then to implement, realistic and action-oriented steps to be taken at the practical level. The EU welcomes the achievements that have been set out to improve the working methods of the General Assembly. Most of the decisions and recommendations already taken can not be implemented by the General Assembly as such, or by the Secretariat.

The real challenge in implementing these decisions is for the Member States. We - every single delegation in this room - have to act accordingly and apply in our own performance in the General Assembly what has been found useful and necessary to revitalize this body. For that reason, the EU would like to highlight some of the decisions adopted by the Member States.

Firstly, the General Assembly revitalization is an ongoing process, not just one event or series of meetings. Therefore, we would like to encourage the Main Committees to review their agendas and working methods on a continuous basis. In particular, the General Assembly and its Main Committees should continue to rationalize and streamline their agendas, including through clustering as well as biennialization or triennalization of agenda items, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. The EU welcomes the fact, as noted in the Secretary General's report that the General Assembly is continuing to make efforts to streamline the agenda of the plenary. In addition, innovative means should be further considered to make our debates more in-depth, focused, and interactive in order to make the Organization serve the international community.

The EU notes with concern that according to the Secretary General's report there has only been a limited success to consolidate the reports on related subjects. The question of rationalization of reports and their issuance is one area where more progress should be made to avoid duplication but also to allow the work of Member States to be more meaningful.

In addition, the EU would like to stress the need to make reports available in all official languages in a timely manner and in accordance with the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, as agreed in the resolution 48/264. This is a necessity to allow all delegations to consider the substance of the reports in advance of meetings.

Secondly, we have emphasized that the UN should be directed to preserving its institutional memory. Exchange of experiences between the outgoing and incoming Presidents and bureau members of the Main Committees need to become a regular practice in order to bring us to work for a common goal. The EU looks forward to receiving a study by the Office of Legal Affairs to provide precedents and past practice of the General Assembly available.

Thirdly, in many aspects of modern technology may be useful to facilitate our intergovernmental work. The introduction of new websites assists delegations to be better informed. They also help us to be more open and visible to the world outside. Greater public visibility through mass media could make the UN more understandable to the world constituency.

Information technology may also be useful in improving monitoring the implementation of those General Assembly resolutions that are relevant for the advancement of the international development goals. The EU also looks forward to the upcoming study on the use of optical scanners that would be presented to the GA later during the ongoing session, which could be an essential tool for delegations during the very frequent elections.

Madame President,

Coordination and cooperation should guide our work. In that regard we welcome the regular meetings of the General Assembly President with the Presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. In this regard the EU would like to acknowledge the increased level of transparency in the recent selection process of the Secretary General.

While reaffirming the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security the EU would like to reiterate the decision taken in the context of revitalization process to invite the Security Council to submit to the General Assembly special subject-oriented reports on issues of current concern, as it is enshrined in the article 24 of the Charter. 

Madame President,

In conclusion, the process of the General Assembly revitalization should not be perceived as a separate task. Rather, it should be framed in the broader context of the ongoing UN reforms where issues are interconnected. Furthermore, the EU would like to underline that the full involvement of the General Assembly in the reform process of the Organization is a concrete proof of its own revitalization.

The EU is ready to engage in further discussions on the General Assembly revitalization.

Thank you, Madam President.

*) Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process