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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson at the meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, 20 February 2017

20.02.2017

Mr. President, 
 
I would like to start by thanking you for convening the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly during the 71st session of the GA. 
 
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 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.
 
First of all, we would like to thank the Permanent Representatives of Croatia and Namibia for their excellent work during the last two sessions. We warmly welcome the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates who has taken up the role of the co-chair together with the Permanent Representative of Croatia during this session. We wish them both all the success in the coming months. 
 
There are many topics on the agenda of the working group, but as many of you already know, the ACT group has been most actively engaged on the cluster dealing with the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads. With the appointment of H.E. Mr. António Guterres as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations this selection and appointment process has come to an end for this time. Let me now make a few remarks regarding the latest historic selectionprocess.  
 
Throughout the process ACT has actively advocated for making the selection of the UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive. Looking back, we can now say that in the beginning of our journey a few believed that not much could be changed.  But a lot has been achieved. The improved process 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 new Secretary-General. 
 
The Ad Hoc Working Group with the consensual adoption of landmark resolutions 69/321 and 70/305 has undoubtedly impacted the whole process. We have been the witnesses of historic improvements. For example, 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 and the participation of all candidates in informal open dialogues with the wider membership and civil society. Further, we highlight that from the outset, the process acknowledged the importance of geographic and gender balance and explicitly invited the candidacies of women.
The standards achieved throughout this process should be applied and strengthened in all future selection processes. We have to guarantee that principles found in these resolutions become the norm in the future and are fully implemented.
 
But despite of all the positive developments the ACT group believes that there is still room for further increasing the transparency of the process, in particular in terms of communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly. During this session we could start finding ways on how to improve this communication. For example, the way straw polls are conducted behind closed doors and the results are not openly communicated to the Member States does not live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency. We could also further explore the possibilities of strengthening the role of the General Assembly in drafting and adopting the appointment resolution of the Secretary-General. 
 
During this session we should continue to examine ways to improve the process of selecting and appointing the executive heads of the organization. In this regard our group has 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 and geographical balance. Echoing resolution 70/305, there should also, as a general rule, not be a monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any State or group of States.
 
In this regard we acknowledge the timely and open request by the Secretariat to all Member States to nominate candidates to supplement Secretary General’s own search and consultation to ensure a wide pool of candidates for positions at the level of Under-Secretary General, stressing the importance of human rights screening and welcoming the nomination of women candidates, especially from developing countries. This will contribute to achieve the strongest leadership team of women and men on the bases of merit.
 
When talking about the senior appointments we could also start thinking about ways how to create a code of ethics for the executive heads and the Senior Management Group of the organization similarly to the code of ethics we created for the President of the General Assembly during the previous session.
 
In conclusion, let me assure you that the ACT group is looking forward to participate constructively in all the meetings to be held during this session of the Ad Hoc Working Group. 
 
I thank you.

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