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

EU Statement – United Nations Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly: Working methods of the GA

New York, 12/03/2020 - 17:29, UNIQUE ID: 200312_14
Statements on behalf of the EU

12 March 2020, New York – European Union Statement by Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly 1st Thematic Debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly: Working methods of the General Assembly

Dear Co-Chairs, Excellences, colleagues, 

I have the honor 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.

Enhancing the GA's working methods is in many ways key to achieve the overarching goal of revitalization the GA, and by extension, of the United Nations as a whole. Good progress has been achieved in recent years, notably in the latest Resolution 73/341, largely due to the daunting task undertaken by the previous co-facilitators, first and foremost in trimming down the text of the Resolution significantly. We can certainly build on this progress and fully support the co-facilitators in an attempt to even further streamline the text. Key to this endeavor is not to reopen previously-agreed language.

As we stated already during the General Debate, the UN's 75th Anniversary calls for being ambitious. We feel encouraged in this regard by the ambition you, dear co-facilitators, conveyed in your letter of 12 February as well as by your opening statements during the general debate. But also by the very frank and bold statement by the PGA, which many delegations, including ours, echoed in their interventions.

This set the tone for a constructive process, which will – hopefully – conclude well before the summer break. We can fully subscribe to what the Australian Ambassador said two weeks ago: Chances of success are the highest when we focus on issues that are at the core of the GA's mandate –avoiding overlap and duplication and instead promote synergies and complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar and related issues.

As we already stated during the general debate earlier this month, the process of GA Revitalisation can and should not be seen in isolation from other ongoing and related processes, such as the alignment process of the agendas of the GA, the ECOSOC and their subsidiary bodies as well as the HLPF and other fora linked to the 2030 Agenda. Here, delivery is particularly important as we entered the Decade for Action. We must ensure that these processes are synchronized as much as possible to make them mutually-reinforcing. In this regard, we fully support the work of the two co-facilitators for the Alignment Process, the PRs of Botswana and Montenegro.

Allow me to request already now a placeholder in the draft resolution which will allow us to include specific paragraphs following the conclusions of the Alignment process. This methodology worked very well last time around. We should also coordinate our work on revitalization with those initiated in individual Committees, to avoid any contradiction or overlap.

We also support streamlining the GA's agenda in order to eliminate or at least reduce obsolete, inefficient, and, in some cases, redundant agenda items and resolutions across the six committees. This applies particularly to the Second and Third Committees, which have more resolutions than ever before. Many of the resolutions we are dealing with do not contain new elements which justify discussing them on a yearly basis. We therefore continue to advocate for biennial, triennial or even quadrennial reporting and negotiation.

One could also envisage biannualizing the UNGA revitalization resolution itself. This would be the most efficient use of our scarce resources: it would reduce the budgetary impact and free up time and means, allowing us to focus on concrete outcomes that have the biggest tangible effect on our citizens. We must use this year, the year of the 75th Anniversary of the UN, to demonstrate that what we are doing here is relevant to the outside world.

As another very concrete deliverable, we remain strongly committed to further rationalizing the number of high-level events and side events, mainly, but not only, during high-level weeks. We can fully support the proposal which the US delegation, I believe, made last November to come up with guidelines to minimise the number of side events during the General Debate with the aim to reducing the current overload, while preserving the integrity of the General Debate. The General Committee could play a useful role in this process.

By rationalizing the number of side-events we would demonstrate that we are serious about making most effective use not only of our taxpayers' money, but also of the time of our leaders, who usually rush from one side-event to the other. It would also show that we know how to prioritise and focus on what is really essential.  Again, the statements from you, co-facilitators, the PGA and other delegations have been very encouraging in this respect.

Focusing on the practical side of our everyday work, we would also like to reiterate the importance of making better use of electronic services as much as possible in order to save resources, energy and paper.

Lasty, dear Co-Chairs, the European Union 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, especially youth and civil society organisations.

I thank you.

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