Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Second Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the General Assembly (Role and Authority of the General Assembly) (29 April 2013)

Mr. Chairman,

We thank you for convening this important meeting.

We felicitate you on assuming Chairmanship of this Ad Hoc Working Group.

We associate ourselves with the statement made by Algeria on behalf of NAM.

Mr. Chairman,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the debate over how to revitalize the General Assembly. In our view, such a conversation remains important. Every institution needs to continue to renew itself – to stay relevant, efficient and effective.

The core objective of this effort should be the realization of purposes and principles of the UN Charter – promoting universal peace, security and prosperity on the basis of the sovereign equality of States.

Mr. Chairman,

The revitalization process has a mixed record. Over the past 20 years, progress has been made in working methods, documentation and agenda streamlining. New means of communication and technology have led to greater efficiency and financial savings. The Secretariat has made advances in human resource management, results-based budgeting and other administrative reforms.

Yet, enhancing the political role of the Assembly requires fresh impetus. The Assembly’s role in regard to promotion of peace, security and development has lagged behind improvements in organizational structures, management practices and administrative procedures.

We must take steps to resolve the perceived tension between the Security Council and the General Assembly. The interface between these two Charter bodies should not be made binary or dichotomized. After all these Charter bodies have the same set of shared objectives: to save the world from the scourge of war, to maintain peace and security, and to create better socio-economic conditions for humankind.

The General Assembly can discuss any matter within the scope of the Charter and make recommendations. Under Article 11 (3), the Assembly may call the attention of the Council to situations that are likely to endanger international peace and security, thus paralleling the responsibilities of the Secretary General under Article 99.

Under Article 11 (1), the Assembly may also make recommendations to the Council with regard to the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security.

The General Assembly, like the Security Council, remains in session throughout the year. It elects non-permanent members of the Council and receives Council’s annual and special reports.

The starting point for the General Assembly isthe full use of the enormous space it has been given by the Charter. Weak action in the Assembly will lead to involuntary outsourcing of its responsibilities.

Many of the issues now increasingly taken up by the Council – especially in its thematic debates – belong to the General Assembly, ECOSOC or other bodies.

We should energize the Assembly to serve as the primary locus of deliberations, law making, norm setting and policy-making.

Adequate resources are essential to implementation of the Assembly’s decisions. Member states must demonstrate strong political commitment to fund its approved activities.

Mr. Chairman,

For revitalization, the Assembly needs continuous internal reform. Shorter resolutions, and their adoption once in two or three years, can improve implementation.

For effective implementation, we welcome the establishment, and periodic updating, of the inventory mechanism. This too needs review and further improvement to enhance the role and authority of the Assembly.

We reiterate the suggestion that for every resolution, the Secretariat may submit, within a specific timeframe, a report on the “status of implementation”. This should include information on the reasons for non-implementation or delay in implementation.

A special unit could be created within the Secretariat for such a follow-up and review. The unit could also be located within the office of the President General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,

The role and authority of the Assembly can and needs to be revived in line with its many outstanding achievements in the past.

The United Nations General Assembly played the leading role in enabling the peoples under colonial rule to liberate themselves through the exercise of the right of self-determination.

Most of our States would not be here as sovereign Members of the UN, were it not for the sterling role of the General Assembly. The Assembly has contributed immensely to the evolution of international law and norms – for disarmament and non-proliferation, economic and social development, human rights, health, labor, telecommunications and environment.

The Assembly has addressed the issues of peace and security, and opposed aggression and the use of force whenever – as happened often in the Cold War – the Security Council was paralyzed by partisan vetoes.

It has created institutions for international cooperation in vital fields, including socio-economic development. It has convened Conferences to mobilize the international community on global priority issues – population, rights of women and children, environment, human rights, trade, and financing for development.

We must therefore identify the real causes behind the creeping erosion in the authority of the Assembly including a more focused debate on the correlation between the objectives of efficiency and effectiveness as well as finding ways of restoring authority of the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,

Finally, we may explore new ideas on how to bring more vigor, visibility and attention to the revitalization debate. We propose that the Ad Hoc Working Group examine the possibility of convening a high level meeting in the near future.

I thank you.