Remarks by Ms Minna-Liina Lind, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN on behalf of the ACT Group at the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly, 22 March 2016
First of all, we would like to join others in expressing sincerest condolences to the Belgian people and all others affected by the horrific terror acts in Brussels today.
Thank you very much for convening this thematic debate on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads at this session of the Ad Hoc Working Group.
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 seeking to improve the working methods of 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.
Everyone in this room most probably agrees that we have achieved quite a lot in the past year. The initial ideas expressed in the 69th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on opening up the process of selecting and appointing the next Secretary-General are now being implemented based on the resolution 69/321. The remaining months until the appointment of the next Secretary-General should be used for constructive discussions among Member States as well as close cooperation between the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council for the full implementation of this historic resolution.
The ACT group – as many others – has continued reflecting on key areas in the selection process leading to appointment of the next Secretary-General. We have therefore drafted ACT´s position paper dated 22 February 2016 on outstanding issues regarding selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General which has previously been sent to all Permanent Missions and is also available in this room today.
For the ACT group, the aim besides creating a more inclusive process with wider ownership is to strengthen the institution of the Secretary-General by making it more representative. While it is important to change perceptions regarding the selection process, it is even more important to make actual changes to bring the process into line with present day expectations.
ACT welcomes the early submission of candidatures in response to the letter by the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council of 15 December 2015 which would allow the informal dialogues and meetings to be concluded as soon as possible. ACT has welcomed 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. ACT has also strongly encouraged Member States to nominate female candidates.
Regarding the actual selection process, ACT calls on all candidates to participate in all stages of the process, as this will strongly increase their legitimacy. The General Assembly should play an active role in the selection process, in accordance with the UN Charter, resolution 69/321, and other relevant decisions.
For ACT the informal dialogues and meetings with the candidates are a key part of the selection process. We expect all candidates to take part in these meetings. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have an important role to play in making sure these meetings serve their purpose. In this regard, we would like to commend the efforts by the President of the General Assembly and his office in outlining an excellent plan for the informal meetings. ACT and its members will engage actively in these dialogues and ask questions from the candidates.
Moreover, we have also sent letters on behalf of the ACT group to all candidates put forward so far strongly encouraging them to take part in the meetings and echoing the call by the President of the General Assembly in requesting their vision statement ahead of the meeting.
For the informal meetings to be as open and transparent as possible, as also foreseen by the President of the General Assembly, ACT would like to call for ensuring civil society´s participation in these meetings with the candidates. We encourage also candidates themselves to interact with civil society organizations.
As we proceed in the selection process, ACT encourages regular communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly to update the wider membership on developments. In identifying the best candidate for appointment, ACT believes due regard should be given to fair geographical distribution through rotation, and to gender balance.
ACT would like to recall the prerogative of the General Assembly to draft the final resolution for the appointment of the Secretary-General. ACT also encourages the General Assembly to look into substantiating the appointment resolution, including on the term of office of the Secretary-General and would like to exchange views with other groups and interested delegations on this issue. It is important that there will be sufficient time, after the Security Council makes its recommendation for the General Assembly, to draft the appointment resolution in a transparent and consultative manner.
ACT would like to once again thank the co-chairs for having arranged the informal meeting on the issues related to selection of the Secretary-General on 29 February which proved to be an excellent opportunity for a thorough exchange of views. ACT welcomes various arguments put forward on the case to be made for a single, non-renewable term. We noted that on said occasion many Member States stated that they are looking favourably at the idea while others are still finalising their position which is also the case of some ACT members.
In concluding, let me emphasize another important issue for ACT. Our members believe that the Secretary-General should exercise independence in the selection of senior officials in line with the Charter provisions and the oath taken by the Secretary-General.
Finally, in ACT´s view the selection process should be finalized as early as possible, preferably three months prior to the assumption of the office by the next Secretary-General.
Thank you very much for your attention and we are looking forward to continued constructive discussions with other groups and delegations on this important issue that concerns all of us.