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H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson Chair of the Second Committee Addressed the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly, 20 March 2018


Distinguished Co-Chairs, dear colleagues,

I thank for the opportunity to address the Ad Hoc Working Group to report on the progress on working methods we collectively managed to make in the Second Committee, as well as to pass on my lessons learned  on what could be further improved in the work of the Committee.

As I announced at the beginning of the Seventy-Second session of the Second Committee, my Chairmanship was guided by the principles of efficiency, equality and empathy.  While we managed to make great inroads, there still remains ample room for improvement.

In the 72nd session of the Second Committee, perhaps more than previously, the Bureau’s focus was on efficiency. It had to be. We were facing the task of negotiating 42 draft proposals in the matter of essentially one month. I am proud to announce that everyone delivered, and in the process, together we even made history by ending the substantial work of the Committee on 30 November - last time this was achieved was in 1986 –  however this meant an unnecessarily hectic month for all people involved, hence my recommendations for the future sessions.

We could start earlier with the preparation of draft proposals as well as to further shorten the duration of the plenary sessions, as to allow increased time to negotiate. We could also review the way we conduct informals during the committee session, making better use of digital platforms. Due to the extensive workload, a more structured approach to negotiations would benefit everybody concerned. Agreeing in advance to a tentative negotiating schedule for all individual draft proposals, allowing sufficient time for coordinations and consultations with capitals, while sticking to the agreed timeframe would benefit the work of the committee by increasing the predictability of how the work of the Committee progresses. Increased predictability of procedural side will certainly benefit the substantive side of the negotiations.

On the note of substance, I also have another lesson learned that I would like to share. What I found is that while we did great in efficiency and equality during this session, in the Second Committee there is lots of room for improvement in relation to empathy. Whether it is through informal outreach, or more structured way of collaborating, for instance through co-drafting draft proposals, there certainly are avenues we should explore to make sure the Second committee follows what the UN is about – about working through our differences for the betterment of humankind.

This session showed that we if we are determined, we can do better. It was done during the last session, during the current session, and certainly could be done in the next. But the truth is that this is all in the hands of the negotiating delegations. I hope that the Seventy-Second session of the Committee has provided the momentum necessary to make sure that we can permanently change our ways for a more productive Second Committee. I am glad to see that some delegations have already started to use this impetus (for instance the Japanese non-paper) to improve the work of the committee. And I shall remain in service of all delegations to support this every way that I can.

Thank you.


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