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Statement on behalf of the EU at the informal thematic consultations of the General Assembly of the UN on Cluster IV: The imperative for collective action: Strenghthening the United Nations

Date of Speech : 27-05-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Croatia* and Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, align themselves with this declaration.

Mr. President,

1. The EU strongly promotes UN reform with the objective to strengthen the international community’s capacity to face today’s threats and the broad spectrum of present-day challenges. Insufficient or no action towards UN reform will erode the overall UN system. We consider however that institutional reform is not an end in itself, but should flow from objectively assessed needs and our determination to make multilateralism more effective. A reformed UN should have the built-in ability to adapt to changing realities, take on new tasks and revise existing mandates. Institutional reforms should create an organization characterized by transparency, accountability and a clear system of checks and balances.

2. Our common objective should be to enhance the credibility and overall performance of the UN system, both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The EU stresses the need to take into account the links between development, security, human rights, the rule of law and democracy described in the Secretary-General’s report and commented in detail in formal plenary sessions of the General Assembly and more recently in the informal cluster debates of the plenary.

Mr. President,

3. At the outset, the EU reaffirms its strong commitment to the UN Charter and the principles therein.

4. The EU would like to stress the importance of the revitalization of the General Assembly. We support the adoption and early implementation of a comprehensive and far-reaching package of reform to revitalize the General Assembly, taking the Secretary-General’s proposals as a starting point. Important efforts have been made in the past to revitalize the GA, and good results were achieved during the 58th session of the General Assembly, but much more needs to be done, for instance by seriously streamlining the main committees, where very little has been achieved so far.

5. The EU underlines the need to restore the political stature of the General Assembly. We would welcome a more vigorous effort by the membership to revitalize our global plenary body in the work of the UN. We share the analysis of the Secretary-General on the necessity to review fundamental procedures of the General Assembly, which too often result in the lowest common denominator. But, beyond procedural improvements, our focus should be on the quality of the General Assembly’s work. In this regard, the agenda of the General Assembly should refocus on the agreed global priorities of the organization and address the major substantive issues of the day. We propose a steering role for the General Committee in support of the President of the General Assembly’s task to manage the GA’s work. The quality of that work would also gain from reducing the number and length of resolutions and from improving the monitoring of their implementation.

6. The EU is pleased to see the Secretary-General’s commitment to increase civil society participation in the work of the UN. The General Assembly should, as a matter of urgency, draw the necessary procedural conclusions from the Cardoso Report on the participation of the NGOs in its deliberation. It should also open its debates to local authorities, and the private sector. The EU strongly supports the recommendation for the GA to establish a mechanism enabling it to engage fully and systematically with civil society.

7. The EU also encourages contacts between the General Assembly and parliamentary assemblies, in particular through the IPU.

8. We stand ready to actively continue the work on GA revitalization, under the leadership of the President of the General Assembly and his facilitators.

Mr. President,

9. With a view to enhancing the overall performance of the UN system, the EU acknowledges the need for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all its aspects, with the aim to strengthen its legitimacy and effectiveness.

10. Membership in the Security Council requires explicit and proven commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN.

11. The EU is of the view that the discussion on Security Council reform should not over-shadow the other important issues under discussion in view of UN reform as a whole.

12. The EU also considers that stronger efforts should be made to seriously reform ECOSOC. As a Charter body of the UN, it needs to become a more effective multilateral instrument that meets the challenges in the economic, social, environmental, humanitarian and human rights fields and that can follow-up to and review effectively the implementation of major UN Conferences and Summits, including the Millennium Summit. A strong and more effective ECOSOC can be realized within its current mandate. The EU is of the view that the agenda of ECOSOC needs reform and focus. At the same time, the resolutions adopted by ECOSOC should concentrate more on substance.

13. The EU welcomes the Secretary-General’s proposal that ECOSOC should serve as a high-level development cooperation forum. The ambitious agenda on development requires bold action on the institutional side in order to ensure that UN institutions, in particular ECOSOC and the operational activities machinery, are better able to cope with the challenges of the XXIst century in the economic, social and environmental fields in a coherent manner.

14. ECOSOC also must fulfill its role as the central mechanism for the coordination of the UN activities in these areas. In its areas of competence, ECOSOC could be entrusted with monitoring the consistency of UN policies in terms of harmonization and coordination, at the international, regional and national levels and both within the UN system and intergovernmental structures. The coordination between the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions should also be further improved, including at the field level.

15. The substantive session of ECOSOC is at the center of its activities. The EU recalls its strong attachment to the current balance between Geneva and New York.

16. The EU supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General, if needed, to address crises, as and when they occur, and the need to promote a more coordinated response to famines, epidemics and major natural disasters.

Mr. President,

17. The EU agrees on the need to guarantee that human rights have the central and equal place assigned to them in the Charter. To that end the UN structure for the promotion and protection of human rights should be strengthened and upgraded. The EU thanks the Secretary-General for his explanatory note on the proposed creation of a standing Human Rights Council and is looking forward to further discussing the creation of such a body.

18. Consistent with its mandate, such a new structure should benefit from an increased legitimacy that could be obtained by electing its members by a two thirds majority of the members of the General Assembly. That would also strengthen the accountability of its members. The peer review mechanism, as proposed by the Secretary-General, deserves further study, especially the role that the OHCHR could play in that regard. The EU has consistently supported the view that accountability of all States is necessary. The composition of the proposed Council should also be studied carefully.

19. The EU is of the view that the valuable aspects of the acquis of the present system should be safeguarded, including the ability to address specific country situations. Likewise, special procedures should be preserved and strengthened. In that regard, we would like to stress that the place of non member states as well as of civil society in the field of human rights should be preserved. The new structure should also keep the ability to address serious human rights situations and to take action accordingly.

20. As a general point, the EU underlines that closer linkages between the main UN organs should be established to promote synergy among their different fields of action. The EU supports as well a strong linkage between ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission, proposed in the Secretary-General’s report and explanatory note, ensuring that ECOSOC highlights the medium and long-term economic, social and environmental dimensions of post-conflict situations. In order to do so, its agenda needs to become more flexible, allowing for timely meetings and discussions of relevant issues.

Mr. President,

21. The EU would like to support the reform efforts in the areas of management, budget and finance, procurement and human resources proposed by the Secretary-General with a view to promoting a more efficient, effective and modern administration that focuses on today’s challenges and avoids duplications and overlaps. The Secretariat also needs to strengthen its procedures as to accountability, transparency, checks and balances.

22. The EU would like to see the Secretary-General’s authority strengthened in order to assess the performance of his managers. The process for the selection and recruitment of senior level personnel needs to be revisited. Ways should be found to refresh and realign the Secretariat’s human resources to address new challenges.

23. The EU strongly welcomes the proposal to enhance the independence and effectiveness of OIOS. Review, under the authority of the Secretary-General, of the Secretariat’s mandates that are five years or older, would allow for reassessing the continuing needs for activities and possible reallocation of human and financial resources.

24. The EU also feels the need for greater clarity, rules and criteria for access to and release of information.

25. Besides strengthening the Secretary-General’s role in personnel and other management matters, the EU would also like to see his policy role in agenda setting enhanced. The pressing nature of global issues of common interest might serve as a guideline.

26. The EU welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to further improve the cooperation and coordination between funds, programs and specialized agencies, both at headquarters and field level. In the medium and longer term, we are ready to embark on a more radical reform process, including the grouping of the various agencies, funds and programmes into more tightly managed entities. We recognize also that there is a need for more predictable financing of the UN’s development efforts to be underpinned by sufficient burden sharing. The EU supports the request of member states to ensure a consistent approach in the governing boards of the various development and humanitarian agencies. In particular, we would like to highlight the need for specialized agencies to be more closely involved in the coordination of UN development efforts in the field and headquarters.

27. We also support the Secretary-General’s efforts to increase the authority of and the resources available to Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators at the country level, bearing in mind the need to avoid overlapping mandates. Coordination should be intensified on the basis of an effective UNDAF result matrix agreed with host governments and with the help of consolidated regional support from the UN agencies to the UN country teams.

28. As pointed out already, the EU supports to improve the cooperation and coordination with the Bretton Woods Institutions.

Mr. President,

29. The EU would like to stress the importance of an adequate humanitarian response to all crises, including natural disasters and complex emergencies. The international community needs to improve its mechanisms bearing in mind that the poorest people are often the most vulnerable in a humanitarian crisis.

30. The EU welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen the humanitarian system and is looking forward to receiving in June 2005 the findings of a comprehensive humanitarian response review currently under way. We look forward to proposals regarding the establishment of benchmarks for performance of the humanitarian system. We would like to underline the need to strengthen the coordination roles of OCHA and Humanitarian Coordinators in the field of humanitarian assistance.

31. The EU welcomes the emphasis in the Secretary-General’s report on predictable response capacity, predictable funding and the predictability of access and guaranteed security for humanitarian workers and operations in the field.

32. We support the proposal for new standby arrangements for personnel and equipment to ensure the capacity to respond immediately to major disasters and other emergencies.

33. The EU particularly welcomes the Secretary-General’s proposal to consider ways of pooling funding to enable immediate response to sudden disasters and financing for neglected emergencies. To this end, the EU welcomes the current Good Humanitarian Donorship support for a study to examine the potential of an enhanced Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF). We consider that the Secretary-General’s proposal to revitalize the CERF should be the primary option in seeking to strengthen UN financial mechanisms for rapid and equitable response.

34. The EU recalls the need to address “forgotten humanitarian crises�?.

35. We welcome the emphasis in the Secretary-General’s report on addressing the protection gaps associated with IDPs, as well as the commitment to further strengthen the collaborative approach and inter-agency response to IDPs. We call on all states to accept the “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement�? as the basic international norm for protection of such persons.

Mr. President,

36. The EU welcomes the attention given in the Secretary-General’s report to sustainable development, especially to environmental issues, including on climate change and on international governance in the field of environment. The EU emphasizes the urgency of the worsening ecological and poverty tracks around the world. We are simply running out of time and must be more proactive and pragmatic in our governance reform efforts.

37. Activities of the UN in socio-economic fields should aim at enhanced coherence in international governance of environmental issues and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, as well as the promotion of the accession to such agreements. The EU calls for the full implementation at the global level of agreed measures for strengthening the international environmental governance and, where necessary, the development of specific measures and implementation of further concepts. Such strengthening could lead to the upgrading of UNEP into a specialized agency with a broadly-based mandate on environmental matters. The EU supports the proposal for a more integrated structure for governance of the global environment, to be built on existing institutions such as UNEP, Treaty Bodies and Specialized agencies. The EU also underscores the comments of the Secretary General’s report that countries will benefit from improved synergies at the country level. We also welcome proposals aiming at the mainstreaming of environmental considerations in UN policy making.

38. While calling on States, who have not done so yet, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the EU would also like to reaffirm the need for further action beyond 2012. In this regard, we wish to emphasize the importance of increasing energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy sources and a phasing out of subsidies to fossil fuels.

Mr. President,

39. The EU stresses the importance of a strengthened coherence and cooperation on global, regional and national levels, between the UN and regional organizations as important contributions to the stability and prosperity of their members, as well as of the broader international system. In that regard, and in the spirit of subsidiarity, the UN and regional organizations should make full use of their comparative advantages.

40. The intention of the Secretary-General that the UN should conclude Memoranda of Understanding between the UN and individual regional organizations is welcome; these should reflect the nature of each regional organization and its relations to the UN.

41. The EU would like to highlight in particular its ever stronger cooperation with the UN, notably in the field of crisis management on the basis of the joint EU-UN declaration of September 2003, and with many regional organizations, in particular the African Union. We fully acknowledge the important and useful roles being played by regional organizations in their geographic areas of competence as well as in cooperation with each other.

Mr. President,

42. The EU can support the Charter amendments proposed by the Secretary General.

43. We are looking forward to a concrete outcome at the Summit on the basis of our discussions on the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).

44. We welcome the Secretary-General’s Explanatory Note as a useful and timely input to our ongoing discussion on the PBC. We agree with the four main purposes of a PBC as set out in the Secretary-General’s note.

45. We welcome the Peacebuilding Support Office as supporting, not duplicating existing arrangements. The work of the Office should include focus on the rule of law and human rights issues.

46. With regard to the mandate of a PBC, the EU would like to stress the following points which are in line with the Secretary-General’s note on the functions of the PBC:

· The PBC should focus on post-conflict peacebuilding activities, while not excluding in principle conflict prevention activities.

· Well designed and well implemented post-conflict peacebuilding activities should effectively prevent resurgence of conflict.

· The mandate of the PBC should primarily cover the transition between the end of conflict and the resumption of sustainable development activities over whatever period may be necessary.

· The PBC should address country specific situations and adopt, where appropriate, a regional approach.

· The role of the PBC should be primarily of an advisory nature.

· The PBC should have an overview function in strategic planning of peacebuilding activities.

· The PBC should monitor the implementation of peacebuilding activities.

· The PBC should mobilize required know-how as well as sustained financial and political support for peacebuilding activities.

47. With regard to membership, the EU recognizes the need for core membership of the PBC as well as for a wider membership on a case-by-case basis. We consider the participation of International Finance Institiutions in the work of the PBC as vital.

48. The EU recognizes the importance of sustained and predictable financing for peacebuilding. The proposed Standing Fund for Peacebuilding could assist with this. Exact modalities of financing and the scope of the Fund still need to be determined.

Mr. President,

49. In conclusion of this statement on cluster IV, but also on the occasion of the last of four substantial cluster debates in preparation of the 2005 Summit, let me thank you and the other facilitators – and through you the President of the General Assembly – for organizing and leading these debates. These two weeks of intensive informal consultations of the GA plenary have allowed us to convey in greater detail our respective thinking and positions on the important interdependent issues on the table.

50. The EU is confident that our discussions have succeeded in bringing our views closer together and, on that basis, we encourage the facilitators to carry on their quest for the common ground and the critical mass needed to prepare the ambitious and balanced outcome for the Summit that we strive for. From our side, we would like to assure you that the EU will remain positively engaged with member states and groups of member states willing to explore ways and means to that end.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process

This page was last modified on : 03-05-2005

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