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EU Statement – UN General Assembly: Interactive dialogue with the candidate for President of the 77th General Assembly

5 May 2022, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly: Informal interactive dialogue with the candidate for the position of PGA for the 77th session

Thank you, Mr President, for convening today’s important interactive dialogue with the candidate for the next, 77th President of the General Assembly.

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States.

The candidate countries Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Excellency, thank you for outlining your priorities for the next mandate, which we fully support. We share your ambition to make sure the GA is able to respond to the crises and challenges affecting our planet and the lives our citizens – from threats to peace and security and the triple-planetary crisis, to the ever-growing inequalities and the deteriorating human rights situation across the globe.

The UN as a whole must be at the centre of the global response to these challenges – and with it the General Assembly as the UN’s main deliberating, policymaking and representative organ. The President has a key role, as head of this body, in ensuring the GA focuses on real priorities, in steering the debate, and ensuring it effectively responds to our citizens’ expectations.

Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine has shaken the UN at its core. It is a blatant violation of international law, of the UN Charter and of everything this organisation stands for.  Such action undermines the credibility of this body and of the UN as a whole. The convening of an Emergency Special Session – the first one in 25 years, which can be resumed anytime! – and the passing of 3 subsequent GA Resolutions with overwhelming majorities sent a powerful signal that such a blatant violation would not be tolerated. It was a defining moment for the GA, taking action when the Security Council was unable to exercise its responsibility to act in the maintenance of peace and security due to a Russian veto.

The GA has spoken and we expect you, as President of the General Assembly, to defend the UN Charter and stand up for every Member State, big or small, against attacks to its sovereignty. The PGA must be impartial - but impartiality cannot mean indifference to injustice.

To this date, Russia has not shown any sign of de-escalation, but rather the opposite. Accountability for non-compliance is essential to the credibility of this organisation. As is the case when ensuring accountability for human rights violations in any conflict around the world – be it in Ukraine, Syria, or elsewhere. How do you intend to ensure that the GA contributes to upholding accountability?

Last week’s consensual adoption of the resolution related to the question of the veto was also an important step in ensuring transparency, accountability and the proper functioning of this organisation. With a view to the special responsibility of the next PGA in this regards, how do you see the complementarity of the roles of the Security Council and the General Assembly in light of these new developments and what measures could promote such complementarity?

The next session will also be crucial in ensuring the implementation of ‘Our Common Agenda and shaping the preparation for the Summit of the Future. It offers the opportunity for a renewed San Francisco moment – it is an opportunity we cannot miss. We want to see broad and inclusive consultations - true to the notion of an inclusive and networked multilateralism. How you intend to ensure such structured and inclusive process leading up to a Summit that produces ambitious and concrete answers to the needs of our people?

Your commitment to opening up the UN and involving youth and civil society in the work of this body, coupled with your 4S – solutions, sustainability, solidarity and science – leave us very reassured that under your leadership – in close coordination with the Secretary-General, and the President of ECOSOC - we can make a quantum leap towards a UN 2.0.

Your credentials on sustainable development and the Agenda 2030 bode very well for our ambition to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. Education is a key component and the ‘Transformative Education Summit’ in September will be the first test case of ‘Our Common Agenda’.  What contribution do you foresee for the success of this Summit?

You rightly stress the need to turn ambitions on fighting climate change and biodiversity into action. Full implementation of the Paris Agreement and the commitments at COP26 will be crucial. How do you intend to ensure the follow-up and at the same time address the ever-growing linkage between climate change, conflicts and food insecurity? What follow-up do you envisage to a new Global Biodiversity Framework to be adopted at COP15?

The digital file also deserves our utmost attention. We cannot close the digital divide and wont realise the 2030 Agenda and global recovery without affordable, meaningful and human rights-centred connectivity and digital inclusion. The EU trusts that you keep digitalisation and the discussions towards a Global Digital Compact high on the agenda, including emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, and their implications for human rights.

The GA has recently played a more active role in the defence of human rights. How do you intend to strengthen close relations between in NY and Geneva needed for the efficiency of the Human Rights System? Do you foresee initiatives to promote economic, social and cultural rights?

In your vision statement you noted “the historic injustice done to half of humanity for centuries”. The Secretary-General has led by example in taking decisive action to achieve gender parity in senior management in record time. We also commend the current PGA for his strong commitment to gender equality as well as to ensuring gender balance in his office.  We trust you, Excellency that you will display the same level of ambition and would be curious about any planned initiatives in this regard.

Lastly, with view to the Secretary-General’s suggestion of raising assessed contributions for peacebuilding and leaving the oversight to the General Assembly, how can we strengthen the GA’s role in this area?

I thank you.