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Statement by DPR Ms. Minna-Liina Lind on behalf of the ACT Group at the third thematic debate of the AHWG on the Revitalization of the GA, 16 April 2018

16.04.2018

Statement by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group at the third thematic debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly

16 April 2018 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group or in short ACT, a cross-regional group comprised of the following 25 small and mid-sized countries working together to improve the working methods in United Nations organs, particularly the Security Council: Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay.
 
Although there is still time until the peak of the next Secretary-General selection cycle, we do not think it is too early to consolidate the historic achievements. ACT members are convinced that the standards achieved and the principles set out in the General Assembly revitalization resolutions – in particular in 69/321 and 70/305 – should be applied and strengthened in all future selection processes. 

Therefore, we would like to make some proposals today for future institutionalization of the selection process. The proposals are based on our lessons learned of the most recent Secretary-General selection process as contained in the document A/72/514–S/2017/846.

We recall that in accordance with the UN Charter, it is the General Assembly, which – upon the recommendation of the Security Council – is responsible for appointing the UN Secretary-General. Furthermore, it is essential that the Secretary-General enjoys the widest possible support among the membership.

In ACT´s view, negotiations on outstanding issues with regard to the role of the General Assembly have to be carried through without delay in the Revitalization working group, notwithstanding the actual selection cycle.

Ovreall, for the ACT group there are two broader issues remaining to be thoroughly discussed in the upcoming sessions leading up to the next selection – first, regarding the communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly and second, on the selection and appointment of senior officials.  

The ACT group believes that an improved interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly is needed to ensure that the relationship between the principal organs of the United Nations is mutually reinforcing and complementary.

Let me make now some more concrete proposals starting with the selection timeline and nomination of candidates. It was a general understanding that providing a structured timeframe for the selection process greatly enhanced the 2015-16 selection process. Therefore, we believe that a deadline for presentation of candidatures, as well as a timeline for the overall process should be followed for future processes, while bearing in mind that ultimately the best possible candidate should be appointed.

As a general principal, ACT encourages early presentation of qualified candidates as late nominations may not allow sufficient time for full evaluation. We also appreciate the value added by various stakeholders, including civil society, in searching for suitable candidates at their own initiative as an input for Member States consideration.

Turning now to the selection process and informal meetings with the candidates, I would like to stress that the informal dialogues and meetings with the candidates are a key part of the selection process. The fact that the President of the General Assembly insisted in the latest selection on following the same procedure for all of the candidates prevented any attempts at selecting a candidate from outside the list. ACT sees possibilities though for further improving the format of the informal dialogues in making them more interactive.

In order to assist Member States in their assessments, ACT encourages civil society to continue working towards improving the selection process of the Secretary-General and efforts towards ensuring that the best possible candidate will be appointed, for example by looking into the practice of existing panels of highly regarded individuals reviewing candidates for similar senior positions.

Furthermore, ACT encourages consideration on possible ways to assess the level of General Assembly’s support for the candidates throughout the process.

As regards to the interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly, we believe that this needs to be further improved to live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency.

We therefore encourage the Security Council, to review its working methods building on the discussions held among Council members during the latest selection process. For example, the collective discussions within the Council on the merit, skills or experience of individual candidates would enhance Security Council decision making.

ACT would like to reiterate our call for regular public briefings by the Security Council on developments in the nomination process and open communication of straw poll results.

Last but not least let me make a few comments on identifying the best candidate for  appointment and issues related to re-appointment.

ACT believes personal qualification is the most important criterion for appointment, while due regard should be given to fair geographical distribution through rotation, and to gender balance.

ACT recalls moreover the prerogative of the General Assembly to draft the resolution for the appointment of the Secretary-General and proposes to finalize the draft resolution at the earliest convenience to ensure that the process is not linked to any individual candidate.

The provisions outlined in my intervention today and expressed in our lessons learned document should apply in the event that an incumbent Secretary-General seeks or is proposed for re-appointment. ACT would also like to continue the discussion and see an informed decision taken in the revitalization working group by all states on the term of office of the Secretary-General, including the proposal to establish a single, non-renewable term for future Secretaries-General.

Finally let me point out, that in line with the charter provisions and the oath taken by the Secretary-General, we believe that the Secretary-General should exercise complete independence in the selection of senior officials with due regard to geographical and gender balance.  Recalling resolution 70/305, the appointment process of the executive heads and the Senior Management Group of the organization should be inclusive and transparent and there should not be a monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any state or group of states.  

In this regard, ACT proposes that the principles, which should govern the appointment of executive heads and the Senior Management Group of the organization, be formally established.

In this regard, we commend all the efforts by the current Secretary-General to achieve gender parity and geographical balance. We would however like to receive a clearer overview from the Secretariat regarding vacancies and appointment timelines for all senior positions.

Many thanks for your kind attention.
 

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