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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, on behalf of the ACT group at the informal meeting of the plenary with the Secretary-General-Designate, Mr. António Guterres

19.10.2016

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General-Designate,

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.

We warmly welcome the selection of Mr. António Guterres as the United Nations’ next Secretary-General and congratulate you, Mr. Secretary-General-Designate, on your appointment. We also want to thank you, and the President of the General Assembly, for giving us the opportunity to have this first informal meeting and exchange of views with you.

The ACT group welcomes the selection process that has allowed for the best qualified person, emerging out of a fair and transparent selection process, to be appointed by the General Assembly as the next Secretary-General. ACT members, with Estonia and Costa Rica at the helm, together with civil society, have actively advocated for making the selection of the next UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive. In particular, the declaration of candidatures on foot of the joint letter from the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the submission of vision statements, as well as the participation of all candidates in informal dialogues with the wider membership were important improvements in this regard. The standards achieved throughout this process should be applied and strengthened in all future selection processes. But at the same time we do think there is room for further increasing the transparency of the process, in particular in terms of communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

We would also like to highlight that the General Assembly has played an enhanced role, as foreseen for it under the Charter, including in using its prerogative to draft the final resolution for the appointment of the Secretary-General. The appointment resolution adopted on the 13th of October as well as resolutions 69/321 and 70/305 are definitely landmark documents that have an impact on the whole institution of the United Nations.

ACT is convinced that transparency, openness and independence should be the guiding principles throughout the Secretary-General’s term in office. In this regard our group has also been strongly advocating for the Secretary-General to exercise independence in the selection of senior officials as well as respect for the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity in these appointments while ensuring equal and fair distribution based on gender balance and as wide a geographical basis as possible.

Going forward, we also encourage you, Mr. Secretary-General-Designate, to take a proactive stance in bringing to the attention of the Security Council any situation that may threaten international peace and security, as stipulated in Article 99 of the Charter. We would be very interested to hear your views on these two issues.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that the ACT group will continue to pursue its efforts aiming at improving the working methods of the Security Council and to make the entire Organization more open, transparent, inclusive and effective. In this regard we are looking forward to an ongoing and fruitful cooperation and interaction with you, Mr. Secretary-General-Designate. We also encourage you, Mr. Guterres, to continue to take the time to hear the views of the General Assembly, as well as convey your priorities, during similar meetings in the future.

Let me once again congratulate you warmly for your election and be reassured that you can count on the support of our group during your tenure as Secretary-General.

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