Statement by Ambassador Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
at the Briefing on the UN Secretary General’s report “Our Common Agenda”
13 February 2023
President of the General Assembly;
Under Secretary General for Policy, Mr. Guy Ryder,
Sri Lanka joins the statements delivered by Cuba on behalf of the G77. I wish to make the following points in my national capacity:
1. I wish to join others in thanking the Secretary General for the briefing which outlined where we are and the status quo with regard to the implementation of ‘Our Common Agenda’. In presenting ‘Our Common Agenda’ last year, the Secretary-General highlighted two important points. One is that, we as a humanity are at an inflection point in our history and that we face a stark and urgent choice; a break down or a break through. Two, in searching for a break- through a renewed social contract that endeavors to leave no one behind would be the basis for the way forward. I presume at the least it will be a re- sensitization of our obligations in terms of the present social contract. It looks ahead to the next 25 years and tells us about the SG’s vision on the future of global cooperation. His is a call for a generous response to the challenges faced today by humankind. He calls for an agenda of action and not just lip- service.
2. My delegation is of the view that we are still seven years away from realizing the 2030 Agenda. This agenda was arrived at after much consultation replacing the earlier Millennium Development Goals. The development agenda of many countries including Sri Lanka have been predicated on the SDGs. At a time when many developing countries are suffering from the polycrisis that we talk about and in a situation where the UNDP has listed 54 countries as being in debt distress and the World Bank identifying 137 as being underdeveloped, the focus should be on how to re-invigorate the journey towards the 2030 Agenda and how the multilateral financial institutions as well as South-South and Triangular Cooperation could forge the necessary partnerships for this purpose; it might be even fitting to consider whether we should engage in a review process every two years in the run up to 2030 Summit. As SG candidly observed this afternoon, we are far off track to 2030.
3. Member States, in resolution 76/307, agreed to hold a Summit Of the Future in September next year and to hold a preparatory ministerial meeting this year. In line with this, a number of parallel processes have been launched, some mandated and some not mandated. It is important that these processes ensure the effective participation of all delegations and avoid overlaps of other important processes which are already mandated by member states. We must guard ourselves from such overlaps as well as duplicity of processes that will create a severe constraint on all delegations and for smaller delegations like mine, it would be placing us in a very difficult position of having to choose which processes to follow and this would surely leave us behind;
4. My delegation welcomes the idea of providing policy briefs for the specific tracks identified by the secretariat which we believe would be important sources for discussion. Adequate time and space should be allowed for proper consideration of these policy briefs and member states should be able to decide upon the tracks identified by the Secretariat as well as provide additional tracks, if required. In this regard, it is essential that member states be given the space to identify and agree upon the scope and elements of the Summit of the Future at the preparatory ministerial meeting this September. This should allow for substantive discussions to take place after the high-level week. It would be, if I may use the phrase “putting the cart before the horse” if substantive discussions were to take place before member states decide on the overall scope and elements of the Summit.
5. Finally, we would also emphasize that this preparatory process is essentially an inter-governmental process as stated in OP16 of resolution 76/307 while major
groups and other stake holders are “encouraged” to engage in the process. Let us work towards global solidarity, a renewed social contract, insulate ourselves from and unreliable barrage of information, build intergenerational trust, invest in human capital and not measure riches by economic prosperity and by nourishing multilaterism within the systems of this august body. We must work towards making this dream a reality.