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

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: 1st Reading of the zero draft resolution of the Ad Hoc Working Group on GA Revitalization

New York, 24/08/2020 - 21:18, UNIQUE ID: 200824_10
Statements on behalf of the EU

24 August 2020, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the 1st Reading of the zero draft resolution of the Ad Hoc Working Group on GA Revitalization

Thank you Madam Co-Chair,

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

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

I would like to thank you both Co-Chairs for preparing the zero draft resolution and for convening this first reading of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the draft text in front of us. Allow me to express our appreciation for your continued engagement on this important file under very difficult circumstances, which continue to test the organization and this Assembly.

When kicking off the consideration of this agenda item last autumn, and in earnest earlier this year, the EU had high ambitions towards making further progress on revitalizing this body and hence increasing its effectiveness and efficiency – as you rightly put in the zero draft - “as a critical component of the overall reform of the United Nations”.

Covid19 forced all of us to adjust – both our working methods and our ambition. We commend you, co-facilitators, and the Secretariat for doing your utmost to conduct this process to the best extent possible, including  by convening the four main interactive dialogues.

As much as we would have liked to see a proper negotiation of this resolution, the severe constraints imposed by the pandemic –the absence of physical meetings and of the indispensable tool of interpretation into the 6 official UN languages – made us all realize that a technical roll-over is probably the maximum that could be done in this context.

Based on the understanding that this Ad Hoc Working Group approaches the item with a level of ambition and willingness to make substantial progress under the 75th session, we can go along with the text you proposedincluding the request to the Secretary-General to undertake an analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our work, including lessons learned and recommendations, and for the SG to submit a report of this analysis and present the main findings to this Group.

This is indeed a welcome exercise of which the UN bodies and its membership shall equally benefit of, ideally allowing us to be much better prepared in case the current pandemic takes a turn to the worse or other crises of that magnitude hit us in the future

This said, as for the EU and its Member States to be able to agree to this para, we would need to see it slightly modified as to meet the following 3 criteria:

Firstly, this working group shall only address the findings specifically related to the GA - in line with its mandate -, and not deal with the impact on the UN as a whole. There are other fora better suited to address the impact on other UN bodies, including on the Secretariat. We would hence propose for the text to read: “Requests the Secretary-General to undertake an analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the. A second more stylistic change would be to move the reference to ”including lessons learned and recommendations” after “to submit a report of that analysis […]

Secondly, it is necessary to ensure good coordination and the avoidance of duplications with the Omnibus Resolution − currently still under negotiation – which contains a similar request.

And thirdly, the report to be prepared and submitted by the SG should not become subject to negotiations in its own right. We of course appreciate the occasion for the SG to present the findings and they will certainly be reflected in next year’s resolution. The current wording implies though that the report would be subject to more than a one-off presentation. We would therefore propose to slightly amend the end of this para to read: “[…] when discussing/considering the report” instead of “when it begins its consideration of the report”.

Apart from these two modifications, which we hope we can build consensus around, we are still waiting for the alignment paras of course.  We were hoping that they would have been already agreed but we understand that some paras still require further consultations. The EU and its Member States support and appreciate the efforts of the co-facilitators of the alignment process, Botswana and Montenegro, to find compromise language. 5 years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, we cannot afford ourselves to lose more time to instill coherence and relevance in the agendas of the GA and ECOSOC.

We hope an agreement based on this understanding can be found soon so that the resolution in front of us can be finalized asap in view of the end of the session and high-level week quickly approaching.

Once again, thank you, dear co-facilitators, for your tireless efforts. You can count on the EU and its Member States to continue to play a constructive role towards bringing this file to a successful conclusion.

Thank you.

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