Dear Mister President, distinguished candidate, Excellences, colleagues,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The EU would like to thank the PGA for convening this important informal dialogue with the candidate for the post of PGA during the 75th session. Let me also thank the candidate for being here today to present his vision and priorities for the Presidency. This meeting has become an essential element in further enhancing the transparency of our work here.
Let me start by reiterating that the EU attaches great importance to the continued well-functioning of the General Assembly as the UN’s main policy-making organ.
We have been encouraged by the candidate’s Vision Statement and can subscribe to the priorities laid out therein, starting with reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism and the rules-based international system; respect for international law, including human rights law and International Humanitarian Law; support to the UN reform agenda, including GA revitalization; and to implementing the SDG ‘Decade for Action’.
Your pledged strong support to advancing human rights and in particular the rights of women and children, including promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, is also well noted. We would like to highlight in this regard that gender-related human rights also include the advancement and protection of LGBTQIA rights.
All these priorities deserve our strong collective support at a time when the UN is under a specific spotlight – because of its 75th anniversary, but even more so because of the global response to the current pandemic, which has upended our daily life and the way we do business. It has not changed our priorities– but it requires us to adjust many of them in ways that can best contribute to a ‘building-back better’ agenda. This shall also include making advances on our ambitious agenda for climate action and biodiversity as well as on water – making sure that we make “the Super Year of Nature” 2020 a year of delivery.
The PGA has a specific responsibility and central role to play as head of the only universal UN organ that deals with all these global challenges. A strategic vision to advance the UN work in all three pillars of the organization is therefore essential for any holder of this post. We would also appreciate the candidate’s vision on how to organize the 75th session, and in particular how to hold high-level week amidst this continued uncertainty, including the organization of the special session to commemorate the UN’s 75th Anniversary.
A cornerstone of the commemorations as well as of the Declaration to be adopted shall be the focus on the people. This includes having strong and active participation of civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders at the special session, but more broadly and as a standing principle – across our work here. We count on the candidate’s commitment to make real progress in this regard.
The EU pays tribute to the actions taken by the current PGA and the Secretariat to allow this body to continue to perform its essential functions during these times. But there are also concerns that need to be urgently addressed, such as the ability to take action on proposals as foreseen in the Charter and the Rules of Procedure, and ensure credible elections processes in the absence of physical meetings.
In addition, multilingualism must not become a collateral damage of the current crisis. Almost two months after new working methods were introduced, virtual meetings are still not provided with interpretation services into the 6 official UN languages. This limits the active participation of some delegations, particularly those with fewer staff and resources. We expect this issue to be handled with priority.
In light of the UN’s continuous fragile financial situation, coupled with the heavy workload of delegations, we welcome the candidate’s commitment towards “quality over quantity”. We also commend the candidate’s approach that the SG and PGA should work in harmony.
The EU is encouraged by the candidate’s commitment to efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and non-discrimination as guiding principles of his Presidency, which in our view are essential for ensuring a level-playing field. They should go hand in hand with the principles of integrity, impartiality, and transparency, including strict adherence to the UN Charter and the GA Rules of Procedure as well as respect for resolutions adopted by all UN organs. The EU further expects any candidate to fully abide by the Code of Ethics, which should not only be seen as an obligation, but rather as a way to strengthen the capacity of the President to exercise his or her duties whilst enhancing moral authority, integrity and credibility.
Before concluding, I’d like to ask the candidate the following questions:
- What lessons from the pandemic would you draw for the priorities of the GA?
- Could you shed more light on your vision to revitalise and better align the work of the GA and its committees with the work of other UN bodies, notably ECOSOC?
- What initiatives do you foresee to ensure better NGO and human rights defenders’ access and participation in the work of the General Assembly despite the current challenges?
- How can the GA better mainstream human rights, including rights of women and girls, of children and older persons, in light of the Covid-19 crisis? How do you intend to continue promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls during your mandate?
- The crisis is exacerbating difficulties for groups vulnerable to discrimination, including notably those belonging to the LGBTQIA community - many of whom face discrimination and stigma when seeking health care and are more vulnerable to violence, hate speech and other human rights abuses. We have an obligation to ensure everyone is equally well protected. As PGA, how do you intend to protect and promote respect for diversity and inclusivity?
What does recovering better mean for you and how do you think the GA can contribute to this? How to you intend to make sure that the 2030 agenda remains the overarching roadmap for the work of this Assembly and what is your vision for the Decade of Action? How do you intend to promote the concept of green recovery in the context of combating climate change?
Peace and Security & Rule of Law
In the “recover better” era, how do you intend to pursue the push for greater emphasis on the SG’s sustaining peace agenda, notably in matters of conflict prevention/mediation and peacebuilding, in complementarity with the Security Council ?
In which way do you intend to maintain the respect for the Rule of Law and international justice at the top of the UN agenda?