United Nations General Assembly: Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement on behalf of Canada, Australia & New Zealand delivered by Acting Deputy Permanent Representative, Mr. Shannon Tau

Excellencies, Distinguished Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Distinguished Co-Chairs, 

I have the privilege to address this meeting today on behalf of Australia, Canada and my own country, New Zealand. 

Let me begin by thanking the co-chairs, Ambassadors Lopez and Fifield, for convening today’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group.

And let me also extend our thanks to the Department of Global Communications for the informative briefing this morning. 

As has been highlighted, the Department of Global Communications plays a central role raising awareness of the deliberations and decisions of the General Assembly, helping to both elevate and demystify our work. 

CANZ also commends the Department for its efforts countering false and deliberately misleading information online, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Co-Chairs, Colleagues, 

Our delegations are pleased to join today’s thematic discussion on the first of the two pillars designated for consideration this session: the role and authority of the General Assembly. 

This pillar contains a number of practical actions that require our collective support and that we, as Member States, have the responsibility to ensure are implemented.

This includes those operative paragraphs aimed at better aligning and minimising overlap in the agendas of the General Assembly, its Main Committees and the Economic and Social Council. Achieving tangible progress in this area will be increasingly important as the international community seeks to accelerate the achievement of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

Turning to the issue of side events during the High-Level Week, CANZ strongly supported efforts by the Co-Chairs last session to reinvigorate this important discussion and to explore concrete proposals for reducing the overall number of events. 

As many in this room are aware, operative paragraph 19(b) of resolution 75/325 explicitly encourages Member States and the UN system to ‘singly and collectively limit the number of side events held in parallel with or in the margins of the general debate’. The question facing us this session is how do we achieve this?

As a first step, CANZ encourages all delegations to proactively raise this issue with capitals to: 

  • build understanding of the current volume of events and the impact this has on the primacy of the general debate;  
  • manage expectations ahead of September; and 
  • encourage a focus on collaboration.

Similarly, CANZ believes it would be beneficial for the incoming PGA, immediately following his appointment in June, to articulate the theme for the upcoming High-Level Week. In our view, this would enable delegations to undertake early consultations across regional, thematic and other groups to identify similar topics and areas for collaboration, with a view to combining events. 

Colleagues, as many of you will be aware, CANZ championed the language in this pillar on achieving gender parity among invited speakers and panellists for high-level and other relevant meetings of the General Assembly.

To this end, we welcome the current PGA’s gender pledge and efforts already made in this regard to achieve gender parity in invited speakers this session. We would encourage the PGA, near the end of his term, to update the membership on his efforts to achieve gender parity, with a view to setting a benchmark that future PGA’s can look to exceed. 

Finally, we note that this pillar requests the Secretary-General and PGA to continue to make efforts to ensure multilingualism is not undermined by the liquidity or COVID measures.

We understand the Secretariat will provide an update on this issue during the joint briefing on 11 May, and we look forward to this discussion. 

Thank you. 


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