UN - United Nations

11/08/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/08/2019 17:09

Amid Financial Crisis, General Assembly Should Reduce Number of Meetings, Streamline Activities to Better Meet Development Goals, Speakers Stress

At a time when the continued operations of the United Nations face uncertainty because of budgeting shortfalls and a liquidity crisis, reducing the number of meetings and consolidating the work of General Assembly is vital to address global challenges and meet development goals, speakers said today during a joint debate on implementing resolutions and revitalizing the organ's work.

'Noting the current financial situation of the Organization, it will be prudent of us to streamline our activities,' Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria) said as he opened the debate.

While reflecting positively on the 'vibrant engagement of Member States at the highest level,' he encouraged delegations to examine their practices to enhance the collective functioning of the Assembly and ensure it remains the most pertinent forum for multilateral engagement. 'We must also be self‑critical and improve the way we conduct our work,' he said. 'We all know there is lots to do.'

He said that implementing existing resolutions on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly is key. This is particularly true for the Assembly's Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees, and the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies. Addressing gaps, overlaps and duplication is essential, as activities must be modernized.

He asked Member States to support the Secretary‑General's proposal to secure a permanent position in the Office of the President of the General Assembly in order to offer continuity for successive Presidents and strengthen institutional memory. Malaysia's speaker endorsed this suggestion, calling for additional permanent staff and adequate funding from the regular budget to be allocated to that Office.

Several States supported proposals recommended by the representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, including preserving the primacy of the General Debate by restricting the number of high‑level meetings and side events, as well as limiting the amount of annual resolutions. 'Every resolution these days is an annual resolution,' he said, calling for some of those resolutions to be transitioned to biannual, triannual or quadrennial resolutions.

Delegations from numerous countries called for focusing on achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and avoiding the duplication of efforts by different United Nations entities. 'It's a question of the amount of empty work we find ourselves involved with,' said the speaker from Belarus, a comment echoed by others. 'This is the sad reality of work at the United Nations today.'

Conversely, the representative from Cuba rejected the notion that the Assembly's effectiveness and efficiency can be determined by the rationalization of its work, much less by the removal of items and resolutions from its agenda. He also echoed a comment made by others in expressing worry that the Security Council was gradually encroaching upon the Assembly's territory.

The delegation from the United Arab Emirates said that revitalization of the Assembly must factor in the attitudes of young people, citing a 2019 study by Edelman Public Affairs, which found that young people have a limited awareness of concrete initiatives the United Nations has undertaken, associating it with words such as 'important', as well as 'outdated' and 'boring'.

Suggesting another challenge to reforming the Assembly, the representative of the Maldives said that the organ is in danger of becoming polarized. 'We must never see this Assembly as a forum which allows for 'us' versus 'them,'' he said. 'Instead, this Assembly must be a platform where the entire world comes together as a collective 'us' versus 'humanity's biggest challenges.''

The speaker from the Russian Federation advocated for the Assembly concentrating on resolutions that are likely to be implemented. He also supported the Zambian delegation's call for reducing the number of events held during the General Debate.

At the meeting's outset, the Assembly filled vacancies in five subsidiary bodies - the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Committee on Contributions, Investments Committee, Board of Auditors and the Independent Audit Advisory Committee.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Switzerland (on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group), Algeria (on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement), India, Liechtenstein, Norway, Indonesia, South Africa, Singapore, China, Afghanistan, Slovakia, United States, Costa Rica and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 November to consider the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Appointments to Fill Vacancies in Subsidiary Organs, Other Appointments

The Assembly considered several vacancies in five subsidiary bodies as well as the International Civil Service Commission. It had before it reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the appointment of members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/74/482/Add.1); Committee on Contributions (document A/74/525); Investments Committee (document A/74/524); Board of Auditors (document A/74/526); and Independent Audit Advisory Committee (document A/74/527). The Assembly first turned its attention to filling six three‑year slots on the 16‑member ACABQ, which plays a crucial role in helping its Fifth Committee examine the Organization's budget and numerous management initiatives. The Assembly appointed Patrick Chuasoto (Philippines); Udo Klaus Fenchel (Germany); Olivio Fermín (Dominican Republic); Marcel Jullier (Switzerland); Takeshi Matsunaga (Japan); and Ye Xuenong (China). They will serve terms starting 1 January 2020.

For the 18‑member Committee on Contributions, which advises the Assembly on the distribution of the Organization's expenses among Member States, it appointed five people for three‑year terms starting 1 January 2020. They are: Cheikh Tidiane Dème (Senegal); Gordon Eckersley (Australia); Bernardo Greiver del Hoyo (Uruguay); Ugo Sessi (Italy); and Alejandro Torres Lépori (Argentina).

For the nine‑member United Nations Investments Committee, which advises the Secretary‑General on strategies and reviews the investments of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund at its quarterly meetings, the Assembly appointed four people as regular members for three‑year terms beginning on 1 January 2020. They are Simon Jiang (China); Achim Kassow (Germany); Michael S. Klein (United States); and Luciane Ribeiro (Brazil). They will serve a three‑year term beginning 1 January 2020. The Assembly also reappointed Madhav Dhar (India) as a regular member and as Chair of the Committee for a one‑year term of office beginning on 1 January 2019.

Also regarding the Investments Committee, the Assembly appointed Tay Lim Hock (Singapore); Abel Moffat Sithole (South Africa); Katina Stefanova (Bulgaria); and Macky Tall (Canada) as ad hoc members for a one‑year term of office beginning 1 January 2020.

The Assembly then appointed the Auditor‑General of the National Audit Office of China as a member of the Board of Auditors for a six‑year term of office beginning on 1 July 2020.

For the vacancies of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, the Assembly appointed Dorothy Bradley (Belize) and Anton V. Kosyanenko (Russian Federation) as members for three‑year terms beginning on 1 January 2020.

Joint Debate

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD‑BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, then opened a joint debate on the 'Implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations' and 'Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.' He said countries are more likely to succeed in resolving common challenges if there is a strong United Nations. Strengthening the Assembly is essential, as a principal organ of the United Nations and the most representative and democratic intergovernmental body in the world. The General Debate featured the 'vibrant engagement of Member States at the highest levels,' he said. The Assembly's convening power is immense. Participation at the General Debate, the high‑level meetings and the activities on the margins, demonstrate that the United Nations remains the most pertinent forum for multilateral engagement. However, 'we must also be self‑critical and improve the way we conduct our work. We all know there is lots to do,' he said.

Implementing existing resolutions on revitalization of the Assembly's work is key, he said. This is particularly true for the Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees, and the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies. 'Noting the current financial situation of the Organisation, it will be prudent of us to streamline our activities,' he said. Addressing gaps, overlaps and duplication is essential, as activities must be streamlined. 'The General Debate remains a key date in the calendars of Heads of State and Government; we should not detract attention from this most important platform for multilateralism,' he said. He asked Member States to support the Secretary‑General's proposal to secure a position in the Office of President of the General Assembly for future sessions. 'Adequate and sustainable resource mobilization would offer continuity and a smooth transition for successive Presidents,' he said. He concluded by calling on all delegations at this historic time to recommit to the founding principles of the United Nations as the Organization's seventy‑fifth anniversary approaches.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that revitalization of the work of the General Assembly remains critical. This year's resolution, which has been streamlined and is more concise, will provide the ground work to carry forward the necessary discussions and will help identify practical solutions to revitalizing the Assembly during its forthcoming session. He reaffirmed the need for all Member States to continue working together to further enhance the Assembly's role as chief deliberative, policy‑making and representative organ of the United Nations. On the working methods, he said the progress in this area has a direct and comprehensive impact on the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the Assembly in fulfilling its duties. Moreover, the alignment of the work of the Assembly with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is crucial.

'We reiterate the need to bring tangible solutions in addressing gaps, overlaps and duplication of the agenda items where they are found to exist, ensuring that the work of the General Assembly delivers on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda,' he continued. Additionally, he welcomed the Assembly's decision to update the oath of office of the Secretary‑General designate. On strengthening the institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly, he encouraged the continuation of the handover report which will be helpful not only for the President‑elect but also for Member States. The occasion marking the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations next year will be a timely opportunity to further enhance efforts.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the 25 members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, stressed the importance of transparency and inclusivity in the appointment processes for the Secretary‑General and other executive heads. He also welcomed the Assembly's commitment to consolidate advances gained in the relevant resolutions and explore ways to improve the process further. The Group remains committed to strengthening the revitalization process and to working with others during the sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the matter next year. Despite differences of positions between Member States and groups of States, constructive discussion in the framework of the Working Group has paved the way for strong consensus. 'This is worth highlighting as we have witnessed a decline in resolutions adopted by consensus during the past session,' he said.

The United Nations unprecedented liquidity crisis is a further issue of legitimate concern for the Assembly, he said, reiterating that the full and timely payment of assessments to the United Nations budget is a legal obligation of all Member States. These developments directly affect the work and functioning of the General Assembly and the Secretariat. In view of these challenges, the Group remains committed to continuing to contribute concretely to global multilateralism with the United Nations at its core. 'At the General Assembly, we will build on the advances of this working group and in the day‑to‑day work of the General Assembly and its bodies, continue to engage constructively in all relevant negotiations and discussions,' he said. The Group will pursue the promotion of the code of conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

SILVIO GONZATO, European Union delegation, said that the General Assembly is the only intergovernmental body with universal membership, and given its broad mandate with far‑reaching responsibilities, it has a central role in responding to global challenges. The European Union remains committed to supporting efforts aimed at strengthening the Assembly's role and authority, in line with the Charter of the United Nations and relevant resolutions. 'Collectively we have made significant progress towards this objective,' he said. The recent resolutions on the revitalization of the Assembly's work have made significant contributions to this end, including further efforts towards enhancing synergies and coherence by addressing gaps, overlaps and duplication in Assembly agendas, and towards limiting the number of side events during the week of high‑level meetings. 'We believe there is still a need to further streamline the work and working methods of the General Assembly, in particular to better align it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as to ensure strong involvement of civil society,' he said.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed deep concern about the impact of the current liquidity crisis on the Organization's ability to implement its mandated functions. He reaffirmed the Group's commitment to work constructively for a more efficient, accountable United Nations and proposed several changes to the Organization's functioning. First, there must be a clearer definition of what constitutes a high‑level meeting and appropriate restrictions on the number of these meetings. Second, the ever‑increasing number of side events and high‑level meetings convened during General Assembly sessions, including its General Debate, must be addressed. Many African Group members represent small countries with small delegations and their participation is greatly impaired when there are too many meetings taking place concurrently. During the last General Debate, for example, there were 400 or more side events, an untenable amount. The Group's third proposal is to limit the number of annually recurring resolutions. 'Every resolution these days is an annual resolution,' he said, even when there is no difference in the text from one year to the next. Only the number on the resolution changes, not its content. Fourth, he said the Group believes that periodicity of resolutions must be considered. He recommended biannual, triannual, and quadrennial resolutions. Finally, the Group believes that the length of these resolutions is also concerning. In many cases, the preambular paragraphs recall past years' resolutions, which could be done better in one or two paragraphs.

SOFIANE MIMOUNI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, first addressed the selection and appointment of the United Nations Secretary‑General, encouraging further openness during this process and inviting the Security Council President to inform Member States of straw poll (unofficial voting) results. He also stressed the need for broader and more timely dissemination to the wider membership of positions available at the level of Under‑Secretary‑General and senior posts, with due regard given to regional and geographical rotation as well as gender equality.

Turning to the Assembly's workload, he said expansion of the body's activities has made the President's presence and active participation necessary all year long. Thus, there is a need for additional posts in the President's Office on a permanent basis as well as allocation of sufficient human and financial resources from the United Nations regular budget. As for Assembly working methods, he said certain resolutions must be based on a biennial or triennial cycle, also stressing the need for more time to negotiate drafts. He also called for appropriate measures to enhance public awareness of the role and activities of the Assembly, encouraging media reporting of its work.

VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) said his country has always supported revitalization of the Assembly to make its work more productive, improve working methods and adapt to current realities. The agendas of the Assembly and its Main Committees are overloaded, he said, suggesting dividing agendas into two equal parts, with one half considered at the current session and the other half at the next session. This will lead to an improvement of the documents which Member States will adopt. The Organization will also save resources. Duplication of agendas also remains a critical concern, mainly in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. On the latter, he said its operational segment is a virtual copy of the Second Committee agenda and its humanitarian segment a copy of the Third Committee agenda. 'We keep repeating the provisions of one resolution after another,' he continued. All resolutions adopted in the past are important and valid. 'It's a question of the amount of empty work we find ourselves involved with,' he said, also adding: 'This is the sad reality of work at the United Nations today.' Ninety per cent of the resolutions adopted 'are simply using the same old language'. Belarus is not in favour of artificial deadlines, but the upcoming anniversary will serve as an opportunity to act on outstanding items.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), citing a 2019 study by Edelman Public Affairs, pointed out that although the United Nations is the most globally representative body, young people have a limited awareness of concrete initiatives it has undertaken, associating it with words such as 'important', as well as 'outdated' and 'boring'. The Ad Hoc Working Group offers an opportunity to make the body more substantive, relevant and responsive to people's concerns and aspirations, she said, before outlining several points that could be improved on. On the Sustainable Development Goals, she said they must be as action‑oriented as possible and avoid duplication in content. On the United Nations seventy‑fifth anniversary, she called for the Organization to steer clear of 'navel‑gazing' and to assess how it can deliver better for its constituents. The United Nations needs to be as diverse as the people it represents, and take steps to field female candidates, including from the global South. Turning to the selection process for the Secretary‑General, she said the advances made by the Ad Hoc Working Group towards transparency in this regard need to be consolidated, adding that fixing notional timelines for the selection process would be helpful.

FATHIMATH NAJWA (Maldives) said that, given the importance of the Assembly to the well-being of all of humanity: 'We must never see this Assembly as a forum which allows for 'us' versus 'them.' Instead, this Assembly must be a platform where the entire world comes together as a collective 'us' versus 'humanity's biggest challenges.'' It is paramount that the Assembly be made more efficient and effective in fulfilling that role. Welcoming the measures taken in recent years towards that end, she regretted that meaningful solutions to some aspects of the body's work have not been found. In that light, additional efforts are needed to focus on achieving the 2030 Agenda's goals, addressing gaps and avoiding duplication, particularly as regards the Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees and the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies. Careful review of the number of resolutions put forward and their implementation is also needed, along with addressing the proliferation of high-level meetings to respect the primacy of the General Debate and avoid overload.

NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Assembly's inclusive character cannot be compared to any other global organ. However, there is a widespread feeling that the Assembly has lost touch with its core responsibilities and focus. A part of the blame must lie with the Assembly and the Member States for allowing the body to become less effective in its unique role as the voice of humanity. The United Nations Charter gives the Assembly the lead role in setting the global agenda and addressing existing and emerging global challenges. It is worth recalling that the first issue the Assembly addressed in 1946 related to the critical issue of atomic weapons. In the same year, the Assembly began its discussion on the global struggle for opportunity for all people against the doctrine of racism. The Sustainable Development Summit, the Ocean Conference, the Climate Summit and the high-level meeting on universal health coverage are all examples of how the Assembly can galvanize the global community to squarely address global challenges. 'The revitalization of the General Assembly must also be seen in the wider context of overall reform of the United Nations,' he said, so that it can be current to geopolitical realities. The growing number of international challenges - climate change, migration, unemployment and inequality - cannot be addressed by countries alone, he added.

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that within the Assembly there has been an unfortunate tendency to backtrack on long-standing agreements, a decline in resolutions adopted by consensus and an increase in procedural difficulties. The Main Committees are seeing an increase in their work, without making efficiency gains, while efforts to streamline processes and economize routinely fall victim to ideological turf battles. From the perspective of a small State, it is increasingly challenging to secure full and meaningful participation in the General Assembly's proceedings. These general developments would be challenging in normal times, but today the membership faces several additional problems that represent a systemic risk to the Organization. In 2019, there have been significant delays in the proceedings of the Main Committees and a sharp decline in Secretariat services due to a lack of funds. Both issues are legitimate concerns for the General Assembly as they directly affect its work and functioning. The Ad Hoc Working Group should look into these issues.

MONA JUUL (Norway), associating herself with Switzerland, stressed the importance of General Assembly revitalization. She welcomed the work undertaken during the Assembly's previous session in the cluster dealing with the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads, underscoring the need to maintain progress made in terms of greater transparency and inclusivity. Such work is a vital part of improving the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council. Transparency and accountability are very important, she said, welcoming the ongoing discussions on the conduct of United Nations elections and campaigns. Guided by the principles of transparency and accountability, Norway has voluntarily committed to publishing all costs related to its campaign for a non‑permanent Security Council seat for the period of 2021‑2022.

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Ad Hoc Working Group should deliberate further on how to increase the global visibility of the General Assembly using traditional and new media. That communication should emphasize better dissemination of events, and how two‑way interaction with different audiences can enhance their ownership of United Nations work. Given the increasing role of the Office of the President of the General Assembly, he said it should receive more support including from the regular United Nations budget and staff secondment from permanent missions. The Assembly agenda must be rationalized to address gaps, overlaps and duplications, he noted, as concrete deliverables are more important than the volume of agendas, meetings and high‑level events. In an era when unilateralism, geopolitical rivalry and protectionism are spreading, the international community should reaffirm its collective commitment to multilateralism, strengthening the participation of and coordination with regional and subregional organizations.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that his delegation continues to participate actively in the Ad Hoc Working Group as well as its thematic cluster debates and interactive sessions. Continued informal dialogue will lead to a better understanding of priorities and proposals as well as challenges, he observed, expressing pleasure at significant reforms adopted in the previous two Assembly sessions. The role of the Secretary‑General is crucial in this regard and South Africa would like to see the reforms institutionalized. The Ad Hoc Working Group should continue discussing further reforms, including the possibility of a term limit and the appointment of the next Secretary‑General through a vote in the General Assembly. Moreover, the Security Council should recommend more than one name to the Assembly in this context. He also called for additional human resources to be assigned to the Office of the President of the General Assembly by the Secretariat on a permanent basis. Noting that the role and profile of the President has increased in recent years, he expressed concern that human and financial resources have remained the same.

GAVIN ANG (Singapore), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that the commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations next year will be a timely juncture to redouble efforts to reinforce the rule of authority of the Assembly, enhance its effectiveness and efficiency and increase the transparency and inclusiveness of its work. Efforts to revitalize the Assembly have already produced tangible results over the past few years, including improvements in the selection and appointment process of the Secretary‑General and the strengthening of the Office of the President of the General Assembly with better continuity between successive presidents. Going forward, Singapore believes that steps must be taken to preserve the primacy of the General Debate during the high‑level week by limiting the number of high‑level meetings and side events held in parallel. Noting the Assembly's proliferating agenda items and resolutions, he said that the growing volume of work is unsustainable and will only dilute the focus. The timing of debates on the 'Report of the Security Council' and the 'Report of the Secretary‑General on the work of the Organization' should be reconsidered to allow the wider membership enough time to review the reports.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated the importance of ensuring an appropriate balance among the Organization's principal organs and halting the 'growing and dangerous' trend in which the Security Council invades the Assembly's scope of action. He also expressed concern about an increasing tendency to make proposals aimed at undermining the sovereign interests of States by infringing upon their rights and privileges, as well as using the revitalization process to endorse biased views without consensus. The proposal to change the date of the opening of the Assembly's session should be carefully examined before any decision is made. Echoing expressions by some delegates that the Assembly must not be used to single out Member States on issues not included in its mandate, he declared: 'The powerful cannot be allowed to interfere in the internal affairs of other States in order to overthrow the economic, social and democratic order freely chosen by their peoples.' He also rejected the notion that the Assembly's effectiveness and efficiency can be determined by the rationalization of its work, much less by the removal of items and resolutions from its agenda.

GUO JIAKUN (China) said that, faced with unilateralism and protectionism, the world needs multilateralism and the United Nations more than ever. The revitalization of the Assembly concerns the credibility of all Member States, and developing States particularly hope this body will operate effectively and efficiently. He proposed several ways to improve the Assembly's operations, including 'focus on the key points and aim at the right targets.' More attention and input should be given to development. In addition, the Assembly should perform its own duties well and form synergy with other bodies. The Assembly would benefit from enhanced coordination with the Security Council, Economic and Social Council and other bodies of the United Nations. Furthermore, the Assembly should improve its work and efficiency, by streamlining decision‑making and improving quality of documents and reports. The office of the President of the Assembly must also be enhanced, since effective operation of the office is crucial to the overall functioning of the body, he said.

ADELA RAZ (Afghanistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said she supports the Assembly's sustained strengthening to ensure the United Nations truly works for all. Her delegation agrees with the need for the timely identification and presentation of resolutions and correcting the gaps, overlaps and duplications related to the 2030 Agenda. Regarding working methods, she said Afghanistan supports efforts to increase gender parity across the Organization and welcomes the increasing number of female candidates nominated for the Assembly's subsidiary organs. She said Afghanistan supports continued efforts to make the selection process for the Secretary-General and other United Nations officials more inclusive, transparent and efficient. Her delegation also supports efforts to strengthen the institutional memory, accountability and transparency of the Assembly President's Office, which plays a crucial role in the Assembly's successful work. The allocation of appropriate human, technical and financial resources for more efficient operations and transitions is important. Greater geographical and gender balance is also needed.

ALEXEY R. BOGUSLAVSKIY (Russian Federation) said that success in revitalizing the Assembly is only possible when there is broad consensus for it. 'The output of the upcoming negotiating round will depend to a large extent on the willingness of delegations to listen to each other,' he said. The Assembly would benefit from further streamlining its working methods and dealing with the issue of overloaded agendas. The body should continue work on bi-annualizing or tri-annualizing agenda items and removing some items that are no longer relevant. The Russian Federation supports the proposal from Zambia's delegation to change the number of events held during the General Debate. However, any changes should include respect for the desires of all States. In addition, the Council is often criticized for infringing on other organizations, and the Russian Federation supports that concern. Recently, there has been increase in number of thematic debates, and he called upon those who aggregate them to consider what is done on these topics. There should be increased transparency and democracy as the Assembly moves to improve the way it helps choose a Secretary-General. The changes must be in strict compliance with the United Nations Charter. 'Over-codifying' procedures could have undesirable consequences. In considering resolutions, attention must be given to how feasible it is to implement them, he said. The Assembly should avoid an approach that leads to division among Member States. A resolution that is adopted with wide support has a better chance of being implemented.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) said that previous resolutions of the Assembly on revitalization and any other relevant matters should be duly implemented so that several issues of concern can be addressed in a simple way without the need to repeat tiresome negotiations at each session. The Assembly should learn lessons from its Main Committees, which rationalized their work, including a decision to take up certain agenda items once every two or three years instead of annually. There is a general recognition of the overburdening of the agenda, but no agreement on any tangible measures to address it. It is not realistic to expect to alleviate this untenable situation without addressing the difficulties posed by the proliferation of high-level events and side events that conflict with the General Debate.

JOHN GIORDANO (United States) called for a reduction of duplicative resolutions and agenda items across the six General Assembly Committees but particularly the Second Committee (Economic and Financial). Triennial and quadrennial reporting and negotiations may be more effective than annual ones. 'There are also a number of resolutions that are outdated, irrelevant, ineffective and in some cases, redundant,' he said. This year's Second Committee has more resolutions than ever before. 'We all must look holistically across the board,' he added, underscoring the need 'to look at resolutions themselves,' some of which run as long as 20 pages. The United States remains supportive of moving to a biennial General Assembly revitalization process, which would help enhance the ability to achieve the common goal. Time spent in negotiating rooms on resolutions with little effect is time away from other areas of importance. The overloaded programme causes the quality of work to suffer. 'Delegations do not have infinite human resources to devote to preparing for debates in this Hall and in the Committee rooms,' he emphasized, also adding that time and resources should be devoted to areas that have more of an impact. He called for improving transparency in elections and including civil society in meetings. Achieving sustainable development rests with the adequate participation of civil society. The Ad Hoc Working Group must remain focused on strengthening the Assembly's work, he added.

DATO'SYED MOHD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), aligning himself with ASEAN, said the General Assembly must be equipped with necessary capacities to address challenges the world faces today, be they in the political-security or socioeconomic spheres. Welcoming continuous efforts to address gaps, overlaps and duplication in the Assembly's agenda, he called for regular and closer consultation between relevant Committee chairs. He also encouraged regular interaction between the Presidents of the Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council in reinforcing the synergy, coherence and complementarity between the three United Nations organs. Finally, stressing the need to strengthen the Office of the President of the General Assembly, he proposed that additional permanent staff and adequate funding from the regular budget be allocated to that Office.

RODRIGO ALBERTO CARAZO ZELEDON (Costa Rica), associating himself with Switzerland, said that much remains to be done with the Assembly to ensure that civil society is involved with the body's work. He said that Assembly resolution 73/341 on the revitalization of the Assembly's work is appropriate and not too ambitious, especially regarding the role of accountability and transparency, which are essential to all democratic systems. Coordination between the Council and the Assembly must be improved. He lamented that the Security Council's 2018 report to the Assembly did not contain any consideration of what the Assembly is doing. In September, the Assembly's discussions on the Council report occurred without most Council members even in attendance. The Council did not even suspend its activities, as the rules currently call for. Similarly, the Human Rights Council did not attend the appropriate Assembly meeting.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the Assembly plays a central role as the principal multilateral organ with the broadest international representation. The Assembly is best positioned to address pressing global challenges such as countering terrorism, preventing violent extremism, transnational organized crime, mass migration, poverty and inequality. The efficiency of United Nations organs can be improved through collective efforts in building synergy and complementarities as well as avoiding duplication and overlap. The working methods of the Assembly and its Main Committees are only one step towards more substantive improvements aimed at restoring and enhancing the role and authority of the Assembly. 'We would see merit in harmonising some of these efficiency measures across all the Committees,' he added. Noting the user‑friendly changes made to the format, production and editing of the Journal of the United Nations, he welcomed the opportunity for Member States to have a dialogue with the Secretariat to help address issues of mutual interest.