General Assembly makes tangible progress to revitalize itself, its President says

General Assembly makes tangible progress to revitalize itself, its President says

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly
The 192-member General Assembly is well on the road to revitalizing its role within the United Nations, where the 15-member Security Council makes the binding decisions, and is planning major debates in the coming year on issues ranging from climate change to development funding to management reform, its President said today.

“I think that we have made tangible progress and obvious progress in terms of improving the working methods of the General Assembly, thus making it dynamic and vital,” Srgjan Kerim said at an end-of-year news conference in New York.

There was no need even for a resolution on revitalising the Assembly, he said, noting that such a resolution had become “totally superfluous” in light of the very intensive activities and the more constructive and cooperative atmosphere among Member States.

“We cannot behave in terms of business as usual because the agenda, the problems, the challenges we are facing do not allow for that,” Mr. Kerim stressed. “So in that regard I have talked to Member States very often that we have to change our mindset and through this our attitude towards the General Assembly in making it a central, vital body of the United Nations which deals with the most important issues and challenges of today’s world.”

He stressed the importance of thematic debates, such as the one already held on terrorism, which paves the way for the review of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy scheduled for next September.

In February the Assembly will debate climate change. In April there will be an informal thematic debate on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to drastically slash poverty, hunger and maternal and child mortality, and boost access to health care and education by 2015.

That debate “will be focused on three crucial goals – poverty, education and health,” and include business people, academics and all those prepared to assist the UN in implementing the MDGs, Mr. Kerim said.

There will also be plenary meetings in April on management reform, focusing on procurement, accountability and human resources. “That will be a very important exercise in which the Member States will be involved to give their input and their ideas and their options and solutions on what should be a very comprehensive management reform,” said the President.

The coming months will be even busier than the past season. “As I said when I was elected in May this year, I promised hard work, a lot of dynamics and a vital General Assembly and I think I have [the] great support of the Member States,” he declared.

Mr. Kerim also voiced confidence that the Assembly would soon adopt a multi-billion dollar budget for the UN, citing the “tremendous effort” by Japan, as well as the efforts of the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Egypt, India “and many, many countries in making sure that we will have a budget.

“And we will have, but with a very clear message to the Secretary-General and the Secretariat that we would like to see more savings, more measures, more transparency in using the money because this is part of this reform and the budget is the best way we can exercise pressure to implement this reform of management,” he added.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed a $4.2 billion budget for the next two years.