62nd Session of the General Assembly Plenary
Agenda item 109: Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
Statement by H.E. Ambassador João Salgueiro
Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, October 8th, 2007
1. I am speaking today on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
2. First of all I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his Report on the Work of the Organization. I avail myself of this opportunity to consider some of the Report’s main topics as well as to share with you the views of the European Union on the main challenges ahead.
3. Allow me to start by addressing the critical issue of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We find ourselves in 2007 at the midpoint on the path to 2015 and the ultimate objective of meeting the MDGs, facing a mixed record so far in their implementation. As stated by the Secretary-General, these goals have become the shared framework for development. We are pleased that this year’s report includes the revised MDG monitoring framework, in line with the endorsement of the MDGs at the 2005 World Summit.
4. The EU reaffirms its strong commitment to the MDGs and will continue to support developing countries in the implementation of their national development strategies through actions on aid volume and effectiveness, including debt relief, on trade and through international institutions. Actions to reach these goals at all levels should be undertaken in an integrated way that promotes efficiencies and reduces duplication and unnecessary competition, while taking into account that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.
5. As stated in the World Summit Outcome, the EU reaffirms that each country must take primary responsibility for its own development and that the role of national policies and development strategies cannot be overemphasized in the achievement of sustainable development. These efforts should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies aimed at expanding the development opportunities of developing countries, while taking into account national conditions and ensuring respect for national ownership, strategies and sovereignty.
6. On this foundation of shared responsibility and partnership, the EU has taken effective measures to reach its commitment as donor. The Union has collectively surpassed the 2006 ODA target of 0,39% of GNI, set in 2005 before the World Summit Outcome. Furthermore, the Union has set new ambitious targets for 2010 and 2015, including new levels for Africa. The Union is currently providing 57% of global ODA and is committed to reaching the target of 0,7% of GNI by 2015. We will continue to make efforts to meet and exceed our timetables, and invite other countries to follow suit.
7. More aid, however, is not the panacea. As important as increasing the volume of aid is making sure that it is more effective. We are pleased that the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness has become a widely recognized benchmark in this regard. Also, the completion of a balanced Doha trade round will ensure benefits for all countries. Developing countries themselves need to ensure high levels of governance and adopt ambitious development strategies and foster enabling environments for pro-poor economic growth where the private sector can flourish. We continue to support the strong and comprehensive commitments made in this regard by African countries, namely through the African Union and NEPAD.
8. HIV/AIDS remains a global scourge that must be combated at all levels through the scaling up of prevention, care, support and treatment, in particular antiretroviral therapy. Here again, the development and implementation of inclusive country-led strategies, based on the “Three Ones Principle”, is key. Special attention must be paid to combating stigma and discrimination, protecting human rights, including those of vulnerable groups, and the sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular of women and young people, in accordance with the ICPD Programme of Action.
9. As the SG clearly outlines in his Report, Africa remains in need of special attention as it lags behind other developing regions in achieving the MDGs. In this context, the EU is working together with its African partners to develop a comprehensive Joint Strategic Partnership to be adopted at the EU-Africa Summit scheduled to take place in Lisbon, in December.
10. Another priority for the EU is combating climate change. The EU commends the Report of the SG for highlighting – for the first time – climate change as a separate priority theme, and one of the utmost importance. Indeed, climate change threatens to undermine the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. Thus, we deeply believe that the UN must be at the centre of global efforts to tackle climate change. The EU strongly advocates constructive dialogue and encourages consideration of these issues in all appropriate fora, as long as these efforts remain linked to the UN process. In addition, the European Union acknowledges the intensified efforts of the UN system in combating global warming, particularly in helping the most vulnerable countries and groups adapt to the consequences of climate change, and supports the strong engagement of the Secretary-General in this matter.
11. The High Level Event convened by the Secretary-General, last 24 September, under the title “The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change”, was a landmark and above all represents a resolute effort to forge a coalition to accelerate a global response to climate change and build international momentum for the negotiations starting this December in Bali and with a view to ending with a global and comprehensive agreement on a post-Kyoto framework in Copenhagen in 2009.
12. The major effort to fight climate change in the immediate future must come from the major emitters. All developed countries need to commit to binding absolute emission reductions. But their actions alone will not be enough to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. It is indispensable that developing countries, and in particular the major emerging economies, start to reduce their emissions growth as soon as possible.
13. The European Union considers it vital to prevent global warming of more than 2ºC above the pre-industrial levels. Although ambitious, this goal is both technically reasonable and economically affordable if major emitters act urgently, leading the example. That is why the European Union is committed to cutting its emissions and becoming a highly energy-efficient, low-carbon economy.
14. The EU has already made a firm independent commitment to reduce its emissions by at least 20% by 2020, as a clear signal of leadership. Furthermore, the EU is willing to commit to a reduction of 30% compared to 1990, as its contribution to a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and economically more advanced developing countries adequately contribute according their responsibilities and capabilities.
15. Adaptation and mitigation strategies have to be fully integrated into strategies for poverty eradication in order to be able to reach the sustainable development goals as well as development planning and budgeting, throughout the UN system, in a coherent and mutually reinforcing way, without diverting efforts and means that are currently ascribed to other fronts, on the one hand, and without monopolising awareness in the context of sustainable development, on the other hand.
16. Allow me to turn to peace and security. The EU shares the Secretary-General’s view on the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes and of promoting the necessary preventive actions in response to threats. It expresses appreciation for the SG’s good offices in finding solutions for the several ongoing conflicts.
17. The EU encourages further progress on issues such as security sector reform; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; role of natural resources in conflicts; rule of law; electoral practices; peace-building; democratic governance; protection of civilians and return of refugees and internally displaced persons; and humanitarian assistance and development. It restates the unquestionable interconnection between development and security.
18. The EU further underlines the importance of strengthening the cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, as well as among these international players. In this framework, the EU welcomes the Secretary-General on his initiative of building strategic partnerships in order to consolidate peace and security and is particularly pleased with the signing of the Joint Statement on UN-EU Cooperation in Crisis Management, on 12 June 2007.
19. The Peacebuilding Commission was created to address a gap in the UN system in what concerns the situation of countries emerging from conflict. During its first year of operation, the UN Peacebuilding architecture contributed to develop a comprehensive international response to the needs of the countries under its consideration. The European Union supported actively the work of the Peacebuilding Commission during its first year and will continue to do so on the basis of its longstanding experience, resources and worldwide engagement.
20. The EU supports the UN as the only truly global forum to counter terrorism and recognizes that the latter has a key role in mobilizing the international community to combat this threat. The EU believes that the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the GA was a significant achievement. We must ensure its full implementation, including by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism as soon as possible. For this reason, the EU is actively cooperating with the SG Counter-terrorism implementation task force and strongly supports its further consolidation.
21. On the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, the EU commends the SG for his commitment and reiterates its support for the proposed reforms in this realm, as well as for resolution 61/257, which provided for the creation of an Office for Disarmament Affairs headed by a High Representative at USG level.
22. The European Union remains committed to uphold, implement and also further strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. Thus it has often expressed its disappointment at the lack of progress in this field.
23. Nevertheless, some important developments have taken place this past year, as rightly pointed out by the SG in his Report, namely: the positive spirit which in the end prevailed during the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference; the constructive, structured and substantive discussions that took place during the first part of this year’s session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), and the momentum created by these discussions; the launching, with overwhelming support in all parts of the world, of a process for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the consensus reached in June 2006 on the Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on illicit brokering.
24. The EU appeals to all member states to build on these positive, albeit modest, developments with a view to revitalizing the international disarmament agenda. In particular, while regretting that the stalemate in the CD was not overcome this year, the EU urges the CD to resume its negotiating role in early 2008.
25. The EU shares the Organisation's desire for a negotiated solution to the issues raised by Iran and DPRK's nuclear programmes. To this effect the EU underlines its continuing commitment to the comprehensive package proposed to Iran in June 2006 and annexed to UNSCR 1747. This package, among many elements, reaffirmed Iran's right to develop nuclear energy in conformity with its obligations under the NPT and included active support to build new Light Water Power Reactors using state of the art technology.
26. With the adoption of the institutional building package by the Human Rights Council last June, we have taken yet another big step to give our Organization the ways and means to effectively address Human Rights in its work.
27. The European Union hopes that all conditions are now in place for an efficient and credible implementation of the Council’s mandate, as foreseen in GA resolution 60/251. In this regard, the European Union would like to see an improved and stronger system of special procedures coming out of the review of the individual mandates that was just started in the 6th session of the Human Rights Council.
28. Besides the new human rights treaties mentioned in the Report, the European Union would also like to salute the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
29. As to children and armed conflict, the EU welcomes the work done so far by the Working Group of the SC on this matter, as well as the SRSG on Children in Armed Conflict and UNICEF. Furthermore, the adoption of the Paris Principles and Commitments early this year, as well as the ten-year review of the Graça Machel report, also contribute to highlight this important issue.
30. The EU remains committed to the principles and fundamental rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is looking forward to the commemorations of its 60th anniversary in 2008. It is our belief that we should do so by implementing and mainstreaming human rights in the work of the Organization, including at the field level, and counting on the valuable work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office.
31. The EU attaches great importance to promoting and strengthening the Rule of Law at the national and international levels and supports the proposals submitted by the Secretary-General to this effect. The newly established Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and its Secretariat Unit need to be supported if they are to fulfil their functions of improving information flows, reducing duplications, identifying gaps and improving system-wide coordination. The EU calls on the SG and member states to provide all the necessary assistance so as to ensure that the Group and the Unit can adequately fulfil their important functions.
32. The EU underlines its commitment to ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and gives its entire support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its activities and attaches great importance to the UN support to the ICC.
33. We therefore call for the universal ratification of the Rome Statute and stress the importance of cooperation by States Parties and non-States Parties with the Court, both in general and as regards specifically the execution of arrest warrants.
34. The EU is also committed to the advancement of the humanitarian reform agenda, including through the development of improved coordination capacity and more predictable funding. To this effect, we attach great importance to risk reduction, preparedness and response capacity at all levels in order to face the challenges which derive from natural disasters, as well as developments such as the Central Emergency Response Fund, the cluster approach and humanitarian partnerships.
35. On the other hand, the EU is particularly alarmed at the current humanitarian and security situations in Sudan, Iraq, the DRC, Somalia and Sri Lanka and will support all efforts to prevent and denounce gender-based violence, to promote the protection and assistance to refugees and IDPs, as well as to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian workers to the people in need. We must therefore continue our collective efforts to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response. Specifically on the situation in Darfur, the EU welcomes progress in the implementation of the joint communiqué on facilitation of humanitarian activities signed in March 2007.
36. On the issue of UN reform, we welcome the progress made in Management Reform, with the establishment of an Independent Audit Advisory Committee and the strengthening of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. The EU also looks forward to the upcoming reforms on Administration of Justice, Information and Communication Technology and Procurement. If we want a real reform of the Organization, we must not forget its biggest asset – the staff – and a reform of Human Resources that can build a truly diverse, mobile, multifunctional and accountable staff.
37. The EU is committed to ensuring the availability of adequate resources for the UN, while adhering to our long-standing principle of budgetary discipline. We will therefore seek to adopt a budget for 2008-09 that will enable the UN to deliver meaningful results in all its activities within a reasonable envelope.
38. Furthermore, the EU wishes to commend the work done in the 61st session of the GA with the purpose of its revitalisation, namely through the thematic debates on issues of particular relevance to the membership, and welcomes the consultations that took place on this subject, which have drawn active participation from member states and lead to the adoption of resolution 61/292, which has the potential to impact significantly on the way the GA – and the UN as a whole – conducts its work.
39. The EU also welcomes the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as stated in resolution 61/256, and looks forward to the full establishment of the Department of Field Support, including the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General.
40. The EU welcomed the informal consultations on system-wide coherence organized during the 61st GA. The EU agrees with the Secretary-General that delivering “as One” must become a reality. Bearing in mind the EU’s traditional commitment to advancing women’s rights, and convinced of the need to mainstream gender issues and streamline the UN architecture in this field, as a matter of urgency, the EU is adamant on the establishment of a Gender Entity at the Under Secretary-General level. In addition, we would like to reiterate our willingness to work with the wider membership of the UN, and all other relevant stakeholders, to strengthen IEG and upgrade UNEP into a UNEO.
41. All in all, the EU looks forward to pursuing this process in an inclusive and transparent manner during the 62nd session of the GA and counts on member states to come together with a view to enhancing the overall coherence and effectiveness within the UN.
42. The European Union agrees with the Secretary-General that the United Nations can do its job properly only with partners. The EU thus welcomes the progress made in developing partnerships with global constituencies. Strengthening the relationship with civil society and the private sector, as well as improving link with national parliaments, will help the UN achieve its goals.
43. Finally, the European Union would like to praise the Secretary-General and all his staff for their dedicated work and to wish H.E. Ban Ki-moon all the best for his term in office. Allow me as well to congratulate former President of the General Assembly Mrs Haya Al Khalifa for her tireless efforts throughout the course of her mandate.
Thank you Mr. President.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.