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Statement by H E Mr. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations under the agenda Item 124 of the General Assembly on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly

Monday, 07 November 2022
H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris
New York

Statement  delivered by H.E. Mohan Pieris, Ambassador/ PRUN of Sri Lanka under the agenda Item 124 of the General Assembly on the Revitalization of the Work of the

General Assembly -07 November 20222

Mr. President,

Thank you for giving me the floor. I congratulate both Ambassadors Mitch Fifer and Egriselda Lopez on their reappointment.

At the outset, my delegation would like to reiterate that revitalization of the General Assembly is a political process and its principal objective should be to strengthen the role of the General Assembly as the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. In addition, my delegation believes that the attempts to undermine the role played by the General Assembly through perceived encroachment must be countered.

While reaffirming the resolutions 73/341 of 12 September 2019 and 74/303 of 4 September 2020 and all other previous resolutions adopted by consensus related  to the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, my delegation would like to recall this assembly of the role and authority of the General Assembly and the strict respect of the Charter-based prerogatives and division of work among the principal organs of the United Nations. There has been a sustained effort to make the work of the General Assembly more focused and relevant. This was identified as a priority during the fifty-eighth session, and efforts continued at subsequent sessions to streamline the agenda, improve the practices and working methods of the Main Committees, enhance the role of the General Committee, strengthen the role and authority of the President and examine the Assembly’s role in the process of selecting the Secretary-General.
We might also recall that During the seventieth and seventy-first sessions, the Assembly adopted landmark resolutions on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (A/RES/70/305 and A/RES/71/323), which, inter alia, established an oath of office and a code of ethics for the Presidents of the General Assembly and provided for informal interactive dialogues with candidates for the position of President of the General assembly.  The practice of convening high-level thematic debates is also a direct outcome of the revitalization process which is commendable.
It has become an established practice for the Secretary-General to brief Member States periodically, in informal meetings of the General Assembly, on his recent activities and travels. These briefings have provided a well-received opportunity for exchange between the Secretary-General and Member States.

Mr. President,

Let me turn to the circumstances of  the smaller delegations, it had been a difficult task to attend all the high-level and side events organized in parallel with the general debate. As such we suggest that the side events organized in parallel with the general debate of the General Assembly should be kept to a minimal. We note that with the commencement of the in-person meetings in the post-covid period has created a situation where the resources of the smaller delegations are exploited beyond its capacity to focus on side events which results in an impediment in giving priority  to the main meeting of the General Assembly. We remain hopeful that this aspect would be addressed as a matter of priority in the future. Another aspect that I thought we should focus on is the opportunity for multiple statements to be made prior to adopting or voting on a resolution. You will recall that member states are entitled to make a general statement on the resolution discussed, followed by an explanation of vote before the vote and after the vote and finally to two rights of reply if we are lucky enough not to have a point of order being raised. With all respect it would appear that this right is being over exploited resulting in a failure to economize on time which compels the extension of the time frames allocated to the several committees and consequent costs of and the unavailability of support services such as interpreters and connected back up staff. We would also like to see greater consultation between the secretariat and the member states in the structuring  of the program of work particularly those of an informal nature which closely follows the procedure of a formal meeting . It is important that member states do not feel left out of the planning process and selection of the resource persons.

Mr. President,

In the long run, my delegation would like to encourage the PGA to optimize the informal dialogue format by minimizing duplication of questions and ensuring ample time for responses. In certain instances, we observe that the main focus of the assembly is diverted due to the same issues being raised repeatedly by the same delegations. This, Mr. President, this leads to a situation where the time allocated to more substantive issues being limited.  As such, a doubt has been raised whether the outcome envisioned by  the theme of the 73rd Session of the GA, i.e. “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies” is fully realized.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, Sri Lanka wishes to commend all the past Secretaries General and Presidents of the General Assembly for their unstinted commitment towards revitalization of the General Assembly. We remain hopeful and have reason to believe that the working methods of the General Assembly could be made more meaningful under your leadership  in times to come with the efforts in revitalizing its work. We are pleased with your style and manner in interacting with the member States at  many levels and through the the creation of the General committee in a  frank and transparent manner; the sharing of your ideas with the membership.What greater democracy can we have than through consultation and the ability to draw on such consultation.  At the same time, we highlight the need to maintain transparency, democracy and inclusivity of all Member States in this endeavour, which would be vital in realizing the targets envisioned under the 2030 agenda.

I thank you