ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INTEGRATED APPROACH TO WORK OF UNITED NATIONS, AS HE CLOSES FIFTY-FIFTH ASSEMBLY SESSION
NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly wrapped up its fifty-fifth session this afternoon by adopting a decision on the reform of the Security Council and keeping consideration open for its next session on 54 agenda items. Outgoing Assembly President, Harri Holkeri, declared the session closed, and reviewed progress made and obstacles remaining in some of the Organization’s ongoing reform efforts.
In his closing statement reflecting on his yearlong tenure as Assembly President, Mr. Holkeri pointed out the importance of an integrated approach to the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, as well as to other United Nations conferences held over the past decade. Member States and the respective entities of the Secretariat, he said, seemed unable to break the habit of considering various issues in isolation rather than in the context of the global agenda.
He urged Member States to reinvigorate the work of the Assembly in plenary, and to refrain from requesting the inclusion of new items on its agenda, thereby clogging the work of the plenary and rendering the institution, itself, irrelevant.
On Security Council reform, discussions should move to a higher political level, he said. The right of veto in the Council should be included in the discussions.
According to the text adopted today on Security Council reform, the Assembly took note of the report of a working group on comprehensive reform of the Security Council, and welcomed the progress so far achieved in its consideration.
The Assembly welcomed the provisional agreement recorded on a large number of issues, but -- noting that substantial differences of view remain on other issues -- urged the Open-ended Working Group to continue its efforts during the Assembly’s fifty-sixth session.
Among the agenda items deferred to the fifty-sixth Assembly session were: strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance; the situation in the Middle East; the question of Palestine; the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security; and causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Assembly President declared the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly closed. The fifty-sixth session opens tomorrow.
The General Assembly this afternoon met to wrap up its remaining agenda items and conclude its fifty-fifth session.
The Assembly planned to keep open its consideration of a number of reports for its next session, including that of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Assembly President Harri Holkeri (Finland) was expected to review the session’s outcome in closing remarks.
Action on Text
First up, the Assembly adopted the draft decision contained in paragraph 34 of the report of the Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council (document A/55/47).
According to that text, the Assembly, mindful of the United Nations Millennium Declaration in which heads of State and Government resolved to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, took note of the report of the Working Group. It also welcomed the progress thus far.
The Assembly welcomed the provisional agreement recorded on a large number of issues, but -- noting that substantial differences of view remain on other issues -- urged the Open-ended Working Group to continue its efforts to achieve progress on all aspects of equitable representation.
Deferral of Agenda Items
Next, the Assembly President announced the inclusion of the following agenda items in the provisional agenda of the fifty-sixth session: 10, 11, 12, 17, 20, 26, 32, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 50, 60, 73, 84, 94, 101, 112, 114, 116, 117, 121, 122, 123, 124, 126, 127, 128, 129, 120, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 140, 143, 144, 148, 150, 152, 153, 164, 167, 175, 176, 179, 182, 183, and 184.
Those items were, respectively: report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization; report of the Security Council; report of the Economic and Social Council; appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments; strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance; cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union; United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations; the situation in the Middle East; and the Question of Palestine.
Also: the special session of the General Assembly in 2001 for follow-up to the World Summit for Children; the situation in Central America -– procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development; the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security; causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa; United Nations reform -– measures and proposals; general and complete disarmament; and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Then: sustainable development and international economic cooperation; high-level international intergovernmental consideration of financing for development; and elimination of racism and racial discrimination; human rights questions; financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors; review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations; programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001; pattern of conferences; scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations; human resources management; United Nations common system; and the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The Assembly also kept open its consideration of the financing of the following: the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; the United Nations Angola Verification Mission and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola; activities arising from Security Council resolution 687 (1991); the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone; the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo; the Transitional Administration in East Timor; the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara; the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan; the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force; United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East; and the United Nations Protection Force, the United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia, the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force and the United Nations Peace Forces headquarters; the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus; the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia; the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti, the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti; the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic; the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Also to be included for consideration in its next session were: administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations; measures to eliminate international terrorism; the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict; review of the problem of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in all its aspects; and follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.
Statement by Assembly President
HARRI HOLKERI (Finland), General Assembly President, said that he had set the prompt and effective follow-up to the Millennium Summit as one of the key priorities of his term, but the United Nations was still far from a truly integrated follow-up. Similarly, the follow-up to the entire agenda of last decade's global conferences was too often approached on a piecemeal basis. Unfortunately, both Member States and the Secretariat seemed unable to break the habit of considering various issues in isolation. Proper focus was needed, but in the overall context of the global agenda.
He drew attention to the issue of civil society partnership –- another theme that he kept high on his agenda. During the past year, he had attempted to gradually make the work of the Assembly more effective and efficient. If efforts did not succeed in reforming its agenda and working methods, that body would fall short of its potential. The reform resolution adopted just a few days ago was only a beginning. In particular, the work of the plenary must be reinvigorated and Member States must show greater restraint in requesting the inclusion of new items on its agenda. Otherwise, the work of the plenary would become clogged and the institution itself irrelevant. The office of the President should also be given resources and servicing commensurate with its role.
There must be constant interaction between the Charter bodies, each one of them viewing the others as partners, he went on. His pursuit of regular meetings with the Presidents of both the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) must be set on a well-established footing. He had also established the practice of regular monthly meetings with the chairs of the five regional groups, to inform Member States in that fashion about the Assembly's work. Sustaining that kind of cooperation, however, required extra effort by the Secretariat.
The pursuit of dialogue and openness required full transparency and accessibility, he said. His door had been open almost 24 hours a day, and he had also tried to make maximum use of his Web site.
Concerning Security Council reform, he said he had attempted to pursue comprehensive reform on different fronts. He had tried to enhance cooperation and coordination on common issues at the monthly meetings, and he had taken the step to address the Council on the subject of East Timor -- a shared responsibility of both bodies. He had also tried to make progress in identifying key aspects of the reform process. Inputs from Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Member States stressed the importance of Council reform while recognizing its great sensitivity. Many had also expressed their concern about the slow progress. There was a common recognition that the Council needed to reflect the realities of the twenty-first century to better serve the interests of peace and security.
He highlighted three suggestions in the replies from Foreign Ministers as critical: moving the discussion to a higher political level, to build sufficient political will for a general agreement on that complex issue; inviting governments to consider approaching their goal of comprehensive reform by moving forward step-by-step, as had been done in the reform of the General Assembly; and including the question of the veto as part of discussions as the scope of the reform gathered support. He added that "the United Nations cannot afford to fail in the reform of the Security Council".
Turning to the question of globalization, he said that a shared vision for the future of humankind and shared responsibility were the key dimensions that were too often overlooked. Tackling poverty required an understanding of its multidimensional character and addressing all of its root causes in a holistic way. Attaining the Millennium Summit targets and eradicating poverty demanded a long-term vision to build human capital and sustainable people-centred development. The Millennium agenda on peace and development presented a major policy challenge, but the goals were within range through partnerships and cooperation.
Last December's agreement on the new scale of assessments was one of the highlights of the Assembly's session, he said. Others were the successful consideration of the important report by the Brahimi panel on peacekeeping and the launching of the conflict prevention report.
At the conclusion of his speech, the President declared the fifty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly closed. The fifty-sixth session commences tomorrow.
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