United Nations General Assembly: Our Common Agenda – CANZ statement at fifth thematic debate on Enhancing International Cooperation

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement on behalf of Canada, Australia & New Zealand delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Thank you Mr. Vice-President, Mr. Secretary General. I have the honour to speak today on behalf of Canada, Australia and my own country New Zealand.

Today’s fifth and final thematic debate goes to the heart of the purpose of Our Common Agenda – enhancing international cooperation, strengthening multilateralism and ensuring an effective, efficient, relevant and accountable United Nations that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

All the mandates we set ourselves won’t matter if we aren’t able to deliver. It is therefore critical that, in seeking to strengthen the multilateral system, our efforts are targeted at accelerating delivery of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, and addressing existing gaps in implementation.

CANZ supports efforts to equip the UN system to meet current and emerging challenges. Reform should not be done for reform’s sake, but rather, in service of the people the UN serves.

A UN that is fit for purpose and able to support effective multilateralism must improve and modernise organisational structures – this includes improving hiring practices to recruit and retain a diverse, gender-balanced and rejuvenated workforce.

We are long-standing supporters of the Secretary-General’s United to Reform agenda, which has improved efficiencies and helped foster a “One UN” approach across agencies, funds and programs under the in-country strategic leadership of the reinvigorated RC System.

While we welcome the report’s proposals to modernise and adapt the UN to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, these efforts should be complementary to existing institutional reforms and not duplicative.

Our delegations hope for positive results from the proposed high-level, multi-stakeholder Summit of the Future in 2023.

For the success of this Summit, we need participation and buy-in at the highest levels. It should take stock of and advance our implementation of existing commitments in order to be credible when agreeing new ones.

The proposed high level tracks for the Summit warrant further discussion. It will be important to ensure that the Summit, and its discussion tracks, are action-oriented.

To be a Summit that is truly future leaning, we must also reimagine the ways that we interact as a General Assembly – this includes being more interactive, capitalizing on hybrid and virtual modes, and fully realising the multi-stakeholder nature of the meeting.

While future focused discussions at the UN are key to driving this agenda forward, the UN must also be able to deliver on its existing mandates.

CANZ’s long-standing record of paying our assessments in full, on time and without conditions is an indication of our commitment to the UN, and we urge all member states to make the same commitment.

Our approach to the UN budget is guided by three principles: effectiveness of mandate delivery; efficiency in use of resources; and transparency and accountability to Member States. We therefore support many of the Secretary-General’s proposals outlined in paragraph 124 of Our Common Agenda, in line with these principles.

The participation of civil society, human rights defenders and the private sector enriches the UN and our processes. Through their lived experiences, diverse range of expertise, experience on the ground, and energy, innovation and dynamism, they enhance the relevance and outcomes of our work.

We should therefore ensure discussions are inclusive and that interested parties, including civil society, are offered every opportunity to contribute to UN processes.

CANZ recognises the fundamental importance of greater CSO participation at the UN, and strongly support the proposal for an annual civil society caucus in the margins of High Level Week. More broadly, we support the formulation of better modalities for non-government stakeholder participation in a range of UN fora and discussions.

CANZ commends the Secretary-General and the Secretariat for their thought-leadership, and looks forward to further engaging on efforts to build a stronger UN that delivers for all and is a living example of the importance of multilateralism.

Thank you.


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