Speech

"The next Secretary General will be a very hot topic in 2016."

Statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson at the General Debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalisation of the Work of the UN General Assembly

Thank you very much and congratulations to both co-chairs on your re-appointment to the Ad Hoc Working Group on GA Revitalisation.

The unprecedented agreements of this group – in particular on the process to select and appoint the Secretary-General - will I think be recognized for years to come. Your leadership was key to achieving this outcome.

We align ourselves with the statement delivered by the European Union, but I want to add a few words in my national capacity, because from where I sit there are three main priorities for the Group to consider for the year ahead.

The first one, as you know, is that the next Secretary General will be a very hot topic in 2016. Last year we made great strides towards a more transparent, predictable and equal process. This year I think is the year to focus on substance, i.e. who do we choose for this critical job? We welcome the fact that three candidates have already been put forward through the proper channels. But the process has just begun and there is much more to do.

This year we will all need to ensure that many more outstanding candidates are put forward and that there are as many women candidates as possible. We also look to the General Assembly, headed by the PGA - and the Security Council, as appropriate – to hold engaging, interactive meetings and dialogues with the candidates. For this most important of roles, it’s vital that we all get a sense of their vision, their goals, and their objectives.

Second, this session provides us another opportunity to shape the work of the General Assembly; to make it more efficient and effective, both in its programme of work as well as in its use of funds. Just before the end of the year, the 5th Committee, pretty late at night I must admit, made some major and much needed changes to the regular budget, recognising that we need to do better with what we have. Similarly, we commend the commitment by each of the Main Committees to review their working methods and agenda so as to reduce duplication, maximize effectiveness and to take into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We believe that progress along these lines will greatly strengthen the role and authority of the General Assembly.

Third and finally, the Office of the President of the General Assembly is one of the most important, prestigious and hard-working of offices at the United Nations. A huge deal of work goes into preparing for and carrying out the duties of a role that only lasts one year, even without an ever-changing portfolio. As Member States, we should take the lead in rationalising our demands of the President and of his office in order to stem an increasing workload. But this process of rationalisation shouldn’t be to the detriment of other important responsibilities, such as embodying transparency and accountability in all duties, and for all stakeholders, whether that’s in New York or beyond it.

We congratulate the current President and his team on their work on this so far, and we hope that these practices are institutionalised within the Office of the PGA. We look forward to engaging in further discussion on how these efforts can best be supported by Member States.

Co-chairs, In closing, it is clear that your work this year will be even more important than it was in 2015. I would like to reiterate the United Kingdom’s full support to the Ad Hoc Working Group and to you. We look forward to engaging proactively over the coming month in this process.

Thank you.