Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: Ad-Hoc Working Group on GA Revitalisation

New York, 11/02/2021 - 19:19, UNIQUE ID: 210211_35
Statements on behalf of the EU

11 February 2021, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (Item 126)

Mister President,

Co-Chairs,

I have the honour to deliver this statement 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 the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

I thank you for convening today’s first General Debate of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the "Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly" during the 75th session.

We welcome your commitment, Mister President, towards treating this important file as key priority during your mandate.

We are also very encouraged by the ambition and commitment of our co-chairs and esteemed colleagues, Ambassador Mlynar and Ambassador González López, towards implementing all previously-agreed measures and achieving a “substantial negotiated outcome” with forward-looking results during this session,

This is even more important given that the Covid-related restrictions did not allow us to go beyond a technical roll-over during the last session. This 75th jubilee session - during which we have a commitment to show to our citizens multilateralism works and delivers - is a critical one for tangible progress towards further strengthening the GA’s work. Achieving this goal would also contribute to the overall UN reform agenda.

In this regard, we warmly welcome the attempt by the co-chairs in identifying some key areas we should focus our efforts on. Our overarching objective should be to make the General Assembly more relevant.

Adopting action-oriented outcomes - as the co-chair suggested - would be key in this regard and we are fully ready to work towards this end.

We consider the following measures as essential:

  • Further streamlining and rationalizing the agenda of the GA and aligning the GA’s work towards our main priorities as outlined in the UN75 Declaration – the roadmap for our action - should remain our guiding principle. This rationalization should also apply to capping the number of high-level events and side events, in particular during High-Level Week – again focusing on the top priorities.
  • Achieving greater coherence and coordination in the work of the 6 main committees, avoiding overlaps and while making better use of lessons-learned.
  • Better aligning the work of the GA and ECOSOC with the 2030 Agenda is another crucial piece towards ensuring we deliver on our agreed priorities. We consider the two processes of GA Revitalisation and GA-ECOSOC Alignment as closely intertwined and therefore strongly encourage better synchronization between them. The EU stands ready to explore ways on how to achieve the desired and much-needed synergies between the GA and ECOSOC. Your personal strong engagement, Mister President, in this regard is much welcomed.
  • Promoting the interactive nature of discussions to generate real dialogue is another sensible proposal that would have our group’s support.

One of the most important aspects during this session should be the assessment of severe impact Covid19 has had and continues to have on the work of the GA – both in terms of outcomes, with many processes either scrapped entirely or limited to technical roll-overs – as well as working methods. Covid19 has caught all of us by surprise and we welcome your efforts, Mister President, towards ensuring much needed business continuity. This is also an opportunity to reconsider and rationalise our work!

We must be better prepared in the future and adopt measures that go beyond preserving business continuity. The absence of interpretation services as well as of physical voting severely hindered the ability of delegations to make their voices sufficiently heard - and slowed down considerably the GA’s ability to take the necessary decisions. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of GA resolution 75/251 on E-voting. Neither must we allow the sacred principled of multilingualism to be a collateral damage of this crisis, nor the pandemic to serve as excuse for backtracking on the strong engagement of civil society and other stakeholders in UN processes.

In this regard, we are very much looking forward to the analysis of the Secretary-General on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the General Assembly.

Last but not least, the GA, under your leadership, Mr President, will have a crucial role to play in the selection and appointment process of the Secretary-General for the next term beginning in 2022. We welcome the recent launch of this process through the joint letter you and the President of the Security Council shared with the membership. The milestone resolution 69/321, as well as resolution 73/341, provide the framework for ensuring a transparent and inclusive process. We also welcome the incumbent’s readiness to engage with the full membership based on his forthcoming vision statement. As was the case last time, we also very much welcome the involvement of civil society in the process.

Mister President, let me conclude by emphasizing the unique opportunity the 75th session provides to make progress amidst the challenges we are facing. COVID 19 proves that we need to improve and modernise the way in which we work.

Thank you for your attention.

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