Dear Co-Chairs, Excellences, colleagues,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Let me start by thanking the Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs as well as the CDC of the President for your briefings today and for your engagement in this process.
Enhancing the GA's working methods is in many ways key to achieve the overarching goal of revitalization the GA, of making this body - and by extension the UN as a whole – more effective and fit for purpose We owe it to our citizens who have spoken loud and clear in support of a strong UN during last year’s Global Consultation.
The way we work and allocate scarce resources is central to the effectiveness and efficiency of this body – and it will determine if we succeed in delivering on our agreed priorities as laid out in the UN75 Declaration. As said before, the latter – together with the Agenda 2030 - should serve as our roadmap for action.
The way the GA agenda looks now, delegations are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing workload. An endless flow of new mandates and initiatives - often lacking a clear added value – keep distracting us from where our focus should really lie: on implementation of what had already been agreed and dealing with new global challenges such as the current pandemic.
What we need is a proper prioritization of the limited resources and a thorough screening of all agenda items in terms of their relevance and added-value to avoid a duplication and overlaps - and instead promote synergies and complementarity. The role of the Committee Chairs, especially when it comes to 2nd and 3rd Committee, as ‘guardians’ of the respective mandates, is essential in this regard.
We support streamlining the GA's agenda in order to eliminate or at least reduce obsolete, irrelevant, ineffective, and, in some cases, redundant agenda items and resolutions across the six committees. This applies particularly to the Second Committee, which has more resolutions than ever before.
Many of the resolutions we are dealing with do not herald developments that would justify discussing them on a yearly basis. Introducing and applying periodicity more rigorously provides the most efficient use of our scarce resources and would free up time and means to focus on our top priorities. As a concrete deliverable for our resolution, we could consider agreeing a first list of those items that we deem sufficient to be addressed every other year. This could in fact also include bi-annualising the GA revitalization resolution itself.
The EU has already presented various other concrete suggestions towards agenda streamlining in the 2C Revitalisation and alignment process, including not introducing any new annual resolution; covering any new initiatives dealing with an emerging or new challenge by default with a one-off resolution; and equipping all recurring existing and new resolutions with a sunset clause.
We should focus on initiatives with tangible real-life impact, first and foremost, the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. Covid19 has put us further off towards achieving this goal - but to be fair, we were already lagging behind on the SDGs before the pandemic hit us. As to ensure better delivery, better synchronization between the GA Revitalisation and other related processes, most notably the GA-ECOSOC alignment process as well as the HLPF and other fora linked to the 2030 Agenda, and making them mutually-reinforcing, is essential.
Further rationalizing the number of high-level events and side events, mainly, but not limited to high-level weeks, is another important tool to keep the GA agenda focused. We fully support the idea of guidelines to minimise the number of side events during the General Debate, while preserving its integrity. The General Committee could play a useful role in this process, while overall we feel that we could make even better use of the Committee as a sounding bloc for new initiatives.
We commend the various positive innovations of recent months introduced to ensure business continuity during these challenging times, including the introduction of E-voting as well as the ‘Interprefy’ platform. The latter eventually allowed for interpretation, indispensable to upholding multilingualism as a core value of this organization. Investing more into E-services, which would allow us to be better prepared for crisis like this one and to making more data and reports available, should be one of the key lessons-learnt of the pandemic – both for practical reasons but also in budgetary and environmental terms.
Lastly, but certainly not least important, the EU and its Member States believe that the function of the GA would also greatly benefit from greater inclusion and participation of various stakeholders in all aspects of our work, including youth and civil society organisations. There is no better occasion to do this than during this 75th session.