35th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 73rd Session

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15-Nov-2018 02:43:11
Delegates advocate streamlining General Assembly work for best responses to emerging global threats, challenges at 35th plenary meeting.

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A streamlined General Assembly will protect multilateralism and increase the capacity of the United Nations to address emerging challenges, delegates said today during a joint debate on implementing resolutions and revitalizing the organ’s work.

“The need of revitalizing the Assembly — the most representative United Nations organ — is indispensable to responding to global challenges and achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador) as she opened the debate.

She said efforts are taking place at a time when doubts are emerging about the multilateral system’s ability to address international challenges. World leaders must look at the Assembly as the main body to discuss the most pressing global challenges, she stressed, asserting that States attach great importance to the role of the United Nations within the multilateral system.

Echoing her concerns about mounting threats to multilateralism was an observer for the European Union delegation, who said support for the global rules‑based world order is not a given. In this regard, the General Assembly plays a central role in advancing cooperation, he said.

Many delegates recognized that the Assembly’s central role as the most representative and democratic body of the United Nations increases the impetus to pursue revitalization efforts. They said the Assembly must adopt measures to streamline its work to more effectively respond to the needs of Member States.

“The General Assembly is the primary policymaking body of the United Nations and enhances the Organization’s credibility,” said China’s delegate. As a result, it must review and respond to issues of major concern to Member States, especially those concerning developing States. In the same vein, Algeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that to further improve the Assembly’s efficiency, certain resolutions must be considered on a biennial or triennial cycle.

The representative of Belarus warned that the Organization’s workload is rapidly growing and leading to the expansion of agenda items the Assembly would consider. As such, he said, States with limited resources do not have the capacity to address all items and risk being left behind.

Increasing the transparency of processes to elect United Nations executive heads was a recurring theme throughout the morning debate, with many delegates welcoming improvements in the appointment process for the Secretary‑General.

Indeed, revitalization efforts must target issues surrounding gender and geographic representation, said Costa Rica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group. He also highlighted progress made in promoting concepts of regional rotation and gender balance in the process of electing and appointing the best candidate for the post of Secretary‑General.

Likewise, Indonesia’s representative said that to make the Assembly more robust, it must continue to play a lead role in the selection and appointment process of the Secretary‑General. The delegate from the United Arab Emirates pointed out that ongoing efforts to improve selection processes, including the holding of interactive dialogues with candidates, are precisely the reason the Assembly President is a woman. Meanwhile, the United States representative welcomed future discussions on the conduct of election campaigns, emphasizing the importance of improving standards of transparency and equity, especially for smaller States with limited resources.

Concerns regarding representation also emerged about the Assembly’s subsidiary organs, with the representative of Bangladesh calling for the expansion of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions to reflect the growth in United Nations membership.

A number of speakers noted that lack of consensus surrounding revitalization efforts remains a formidable challenge. Kenya’s representative urged the ad hoc working group on the revitalization of the Assembly’s work to act in an open manner to address the various contentious issues surrounding the matter.

“We are all challenged to ensure that the methods of working at the United Nations reflect positively in addressing these challenges and improving the lives of people on this planet,” said Jordan’s representative, also speaking for Slovakia, as the co‑chairs of the Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the Assembly. It is only at the General Assembly where the world can find acceptable answers and solutions, she said, emphasizing that political will is essential to making the Assembly function as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly filled 17 vacancies in four subsidiary bodies — Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Committee on Contributions, Investments Committee and the Joint Inspection Unit — as well as the International Civil Service Commission.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Maldives, India, Cuba, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Morocco, Egypt and Bangladesh.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

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