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Statement by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group at the third thematic debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly

Statement delivered on behalf of the ACT Group at the United Nations on 10 April 2017:

I have the honour 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 working together 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.

The work done in this working group on the cluster of the selection and appointment process of the Secretary-General and other executive heads has been truly groundbreaking and we are looking forward to a fruitful discussion on these issues also at this session. Even though the new and historically open selection process has just culminated with the appointment of an excellent Secretary-General, we believe that there is still room for improvement in the future, in particular in terms of communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The Ad Hoc Working Group with the consensual adoption of resolutions 69/321 and 70/305 has undoubtedly impacted the whole process from the declaration of candidatures to the informal open dialogues with the wider membership and civil society. We are convinced that the standards achieved throughout this process should be applied and strengthened in all future selection processes. We have to guarantee that principles found in these resolutions become the norm in the future and are fully implemented.

Furthermore, the crucial role of the President of the General Assembly during the process contributed to uplifting the role of the General Assembly during the process and increased the inclusiveness and empowerment of all the member states during the informal dialogues with the different candidates. The fact that the PGA insisted on following the same procedure for all of the candidates prevented any attempts at selecting a candidate from outside the list.

The ACT group is currently drawing its final conclusions on the latest selection process and we will be glad to share the outcome with you all shortly. In this wider lessons learned process reflecting the achievements during the process and identifying the forthcoming challenges we would like to commend the thorough work done by the civil society and especially the 1for7billion campaign. In this regard, we are studying with great interest the excellent overview Security Council Report published last week.


In addition, during this session of the working group we could exchange views on the ways how to improve the communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly. For example, the fact that straw polls’ results are not openly communicated to the Member States does not live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency.  We could as well further explore the possibilities of strengthening the role of the General Assembly in drafting and adopting the appointment resolution of the Secretary-General. 
Moreover, the ACT group has been strongly advocating for the Secretary-General to exercise independence in the selection of senior officials as well as respect for the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity in these appointments, while ensuring equal and fair distribution based on gender and geographical balance. We acknowledge the timely and open request by the Secretariat to all Member States to nominate candidates to supplement Secretary-General’s own search and consultation to ensure a wide pool of candidates while stressing the importance of human rights screening and welcoming the nomination of women candidates, especially from developing countries.

Along the same line, the ACT group would like to propose that during this session we elaborate on ways to create a code of ethics for the executive heads and the Senior Management Group of the organization similarly to the code of ethics we created for the President of the General Assembly during the previous session.
In conclusion, let me assure you that the ACT group is looking forward to participating constructively in the meetings of this working group and is looking forward to exchanging views with other groups and delegations to improve the functioning of the United Nations.