Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement: United Nations General Assembly: Revitalisation of the work of the GA

New York , 02/03/2020 - 16:31, UNIQUE ID: 200303_15
Statements on behalf of the EU

2 March 2020, New York – European Union Statement by Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Ad-Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly: General Debate

Co-Chairs, Mr President, Under-Secretary-General, Excellencies,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North 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 for convening this meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly. Let me congratulate Ambassadors Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee and Michal Mlynár on their appointment as co-chairs and wish them the very best in the process they are undertaking. I would also like to thank the President of the General Assembly for his personal commitment to this agenda item which is an essential element of the internal reform process and towards strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations.

Gradual progress has been achieved in recent years, notably in the latest Resolution 73/341. Let me congratulate once again the previous co-facilitators for their success in trimming down the text significantly, enhancing synergies and coherence by mainstreaming the agendas and working methods of the General Assembly and its Committees and addressing gaps, overlaps and duplication. We can certainly build on this incremental progress. But I also need to stress that the European Union and its Member States were working towards a more ambitious outcome.

Allow me to say that, in the year of the UN's 75th Anniversary, we have a special responsibility to be more ambitious. Our citizens, who are exposed to the biggest challenges of our times – from conflicts to climate change, from human rights abuses to lack of health or education – rightly expect from us that we deal with such issues in a focused, meaningful, effective and intelligible way.

The General Assembly is the only intergovernmental body with universal membership and far-reaching responsibilities. We don’t always agree on what the priorities should be, but we should be able to agree to be as effective as possible – and that some items on our agenda have become obsolete and risk taking resources and political energy away from issues that really matter.

We should aim to demonstrate that the UN is efficient in responding to issues of common concern to the international community, and produces results. For this we need to genuinely rationalise the way we work and focus on the most important priorities aimed at improving the lifes of all citizens.

To achieve that objective, we propose to focus the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the streamlining and rationalization of the General Assembly’s programme of work, the number of high-level events and side-events, as well as on enhancing the interactive nature of the meetings.

This debate is closely related to the overall reform of the United Nations towards making this organisation more effective, transparent, democratic, representative and accountable, and better placed to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow. We continue to fully support the Secretary General in his efforts to modernize and reform the UN in the fields of sustainable development, peace and security and management. While we start to see concrete benefits of these efforts, we also believe that monitoring of their implementation will remain important.

GA revitalisation should also be seen in connection with other ongoing and related processes, such as the alignment of agendas of the GA, its committees, ECOSOC & their subsidiary bodies as well as the HLPF and other fora, to deliver more effectively on Agenda 2030.

In this regard, we recall the need to take steps towards eliminating duplication and overlap and promoting complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar and related issues. We should also avoid the duplication of the debates at the intergovernmental consultations on the alignment process (UNGA Resolution 73/341) and at the meetings of this Ad Hoc Working Group.

The 75th Anniversary of this organisation must be one in which we clearly demonstrate our sincerity about the revitalisation of the GA. Otherwise our pledge to strengthen the United Nations will remain hollow. As a very concrete deliverable, we remain strongly committed to further rationalizing the number of high-level events and side events, mainly during high-level weeks. By doing so we would demonstrate that we are serious about making effective use of the scarce resources of the UN.

Finally, I will surprise no-one by stressing how important it is for the European Union and its Member States that the revitalization of the GA goes hand in hand with a greater inclusion and participation of various stakeholders in all aspects of our work, including youth and civil society organisations.

Chers Coprésidents, Monsieur le Président de l’Assemblée générale, l'Union Européenne et ses États membres sont fortement attachés à un multilatéralisme efficace avec l'ONU en son coeur. Vous pouvez compter sur nous pour travailler avec tous nos partenaires à la poursuite incessante de cet objectif, tout en restant attachés à la préservation du consensus.

Soyez assurés que nous nous engagerons de manière constructive dans les travaux du Groupe de travail spécial, et que nous attendons avec intérêt de discuter en détail des différents thèmes définis par les coprésidents au cours des prochaines semaines.

Merci de votre attention.

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