Adoption of the report and resolution of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly
Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) statement
Delivered by H.E. Rein Tammsaar, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN
General Assembly, 1 September 2023
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, which is a cross-regional group comprised of 27 States including my own country, Estonia.
I would like to begin by thanking the permanent representatives of Australia and El Salvador and their respective teams for their outstanding co-chairmanship of this complex negotiation. I also thank them for proposing an ambitious 0-draft that sought to go beyond the status quo, in order to make important and needed changes to our organization, which stands at the core of the rules-based multilateral system.
The ACT group invites all member states to take stock of the advances in the resolution on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly that we have just adopted and to actively engage in its prompt implementation. ACT also kindly requests the elected President of the General Assembly to work in close collaboration with the Secretariat for a swift implementation of the resolution. It is an ambitious text that contains a number of improvements aimed at continuing to strengthen the General Assembly and improve the accountability of the Security Council to the General Assembly.
What are the areas where ACT sees progress this year?
- The current text reaffirms the role of the General Assembly in matters of peace and security and underlines the importance of the Veto Initiative in that context.
- We also agreed to create a digital handbook on the practices and situations in which the General Assembly has had a relevant role in peace and security.
- We are pleased that this year´s resolution acknowledges the importance of the workshop on the relationship between General Assembly and Security Council.
- We managed to include stronger language encouraging member states to have in mind that there is yet to be a woman Secretary General, which is particularly relevant for the upcoming process.
- We agreed to create a repository of the past selection and appointment of the previous Secretaries General.
- On setting a predictable timeline for the selection and appointment process, we consider the new language on joint letters, the reference to notional events and the recognition that the Secretary General designate requires sufficient time to prepare for taking office, as a step in the right direction
- We welcome the new language that invites future candidates to voluntarily disclose funding sources of their campaigns. This is a necessary minimum measure of transparency.
- Last but not least, we also agreed to strengthen the language that now requests the presentation of vision statements.
We made some progress with the outcome document, even though we missed opportunities again to introduce more improvements. This should have been a pivotal year ahead of the next selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, which is only two years away. We regret the approach taken by some to simply block rather than engaging substantively in negotiations towards compromise, particularly on proposals that enjoyed a wide support of the UN membership. There was rather close cooperation in GA setting between permanent members and as a result several such proposals by ACT did not make it to the final text. For our common interest, we need to find a way to change this pattern in the future.
What are the issues that remain unresolved and should be therefore brought into the 79th Session?
- We need a clear and much more predictable timeline for the overall process. There was broad support for a structured timeframe including the start, end and dates for the entire process. All Member States, candidates, civil society, and even the broader public would benefit from such clarity.
- We also regret that it was not possible for the General Assembly to recommend to the Council to consider adding a dedicated chapter on the veto into the Annual Report, which would contain an analysis of the cases in which the veto has been exercised, or appropriately reflect the special reports of the Council. We hope that the Council will take up this idea in the next report.
Let me conclude my intervention on behalf of the ACT group on a positive note: we are making some evolutionary progress. Looking to the future, ACT stands ready to continue working tirelessly with other negotiation groups to finally formalize a process for the selection and appointment of the Secretary General and to improve the overall accountability of the Security Council to the General Assembly. We count on the valuable support of all UN members to achieve these important and timely goals.
I thank you.
 ACT Group members: Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay.