Statement by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group at the
Informal meeting with former Presidents of the General Assembly on the theme: “Revitalization of the United Nations in favor of a strengthened multilateral rules-based system”
I have the honor 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 seeking 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.
Please be assured that the ACT group is a strong supporter of multilateralism and the United Nations system as a whole. It is our purpose to work toward a well-functioning United Nations. ACT will continue to offer concrete and pragmatic proposals to help improve the working methods of the Security Council, in dialogue with the Council members, in particular those elected by the General Assembly, as well as through building political momentum outside the Council.
The ACT group has repeatedly called for an improved interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly in order to ensure that their relationship is mutually reinforcing and complementary. In this regard, the General Assembly, as the most inclusive multilateral forum, also has a responsibility to ensure that the Security Council is aware of the expectations of the membership on whose behalf it acts in accordance with the Charter. Under the ACT Code of Conduct nearly 2/3 of the member states as well as 2/3 of the current Council membership have committed to prevent and end atrocity crimes in a timely and decisive manner.
The Code constitutes an important tool for the wider membership to hold the Council accountable for its performance and to put the powers of the General Assembly to the best use, including during Security Council elections.
Complementarity of efforts between the Security Council and the General Assembly is of particular relevance in cases where the expectations of the wide membership are not met by the Security Council, in particular where the veto prevents the Council from acting.
At the same time, the Security Council should benefit more from the views of the wide membership on the most pressing situations calling for the Council’s attention and provide consistent opportunities to the membership to express itself in this regard.
The ACT group welcomes that the General Assembly has improved its responsiveness in such cases in the past years and thus contributed to the strengthening of inclusive multilateralism. ACT has been committed to exploring the General Assembly’s potential in this regard for the last six years. For instance, the group has not only been working on improving the interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly but has also contributed to the overall discussions for a more transparent inclusive and accountable process for the selection of the Secretary General.
ACT believes that the General Assembly has the right, in accordance with the UN Charter, resolutions 69/321 and 70/305 and other relevant decisions, to play a more active role in the selection process. In 2015-2016, ACT worked to help empower the General Assembly and its President to engage directly with candidates; we also set expectations on the selection criteria and encouraged the Council towards a more inclusive and transparent approach.
The group believes that the elements added in the negotiations in the ad hoc working group on the revitalization of the General Assembly on the hearings, the regional rotation, the gender balance and the timeline for the process of selection and appointment of the Secretary General are crucial in order to have more inclusive and transparent selection process.
ACT members are convinced that the standards achieved and the principles set out in the General Assembly revitalization resolutions should be applied and strengthened in all future selection processes.
To conclude, the ACT group is looking forward to the negotiations on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly this year, to participating constructively in the meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly as well as to continuing the exchange views with other groups and delegations to improve the functioning of the United Nations.