NAM advocates streamlining the work of UN General Assembly

Non-Aligned Movement firmly believes in the principle of multilateralism and stresses the significance of United Nations as an indispensable forum for addressing issues relating to international cooperation for economic development and social progress, peace and security, peaceful settlement of disputes, human rights and the rule of law. Among the various bodies of the UN, NAM regards the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as the most representative and democratic body of the United Nations. As such, NAM has called for the revitalization of the UNGA as an important component in the reform of United Nations.

NAM Member States reiterated their position on streamlining the work of UN General Assembly at the 35th Meeting of the 73rd Session of the UNGA held in November 2018. Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement reiterated that a reinvigorated UNGA was pivotal for the strengthening of a multilateral global order. NAM believes that one of the important aspects of streamlining of work of UNGA is establishing transparency in the appointment of Secretary-General. The Algerian delegate, speaking on behalf of NAM, categorically mentioned that the appointment of Secretary-General must entail a transparent and democratic process with clear-cut timelines. NAM’s position is that the appointment of Secretary-General should take place no later than one month before the term of the incumbent expires.

NAM believes that working methods are only a step towards substantive improvements and calls for safeguarding the intergovernmental and inclusive nature of the United Nations. Moreover, NAM is of the opinion that in order to improve the efficiency of UNGA, certain resolutions must be considered on a biennial or triennial cycle. Another important issue pertaining to streamlining the work of UNGA is inextricably linked with principle of equitable geographic representation in UN bodies.

A number of NAM Member States associated itself with the NAM statement. Singapore reiterated the need for a more efficient, effective and accountable United Nations and stated that the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly remained a critical component in this regard. Singapore called for improvements in the selection and appointment process for the Secretary‑General as well as all other senior appointments within the United Nations. Singapore further stated that more consideration should be invested in scheduling the meetings of the General Assembly, including when it comes to taking up the “Report of the Secretary‑General on the Work of the Organization” and the “Report of the Security Council”.

Belarus staunchly advocated for the revitalization of the work of UNGA. Belarus highlighted the increasing workload on UNGA, which resulted in the expansion of the agenda items. This expansion of agenda items under the current set-up was not helping the smaller countries with limited resources and as such, they were at a risk of being left behind. Belarus called for a revision of the Assembly’s agenda and for a shift towards a two‑ or three‑year cycle for considering resolutions. Belarus also highlighted the workload faced by certain delegations during the Assembly’s high‑level segment and emphasised a more balanced schedule for high‑level segments in order to increase the efficiency of UNGA.

India stressed the inclusive nature of UNGA. The Indian representative stated that UNGA is most inclusive forum, where States can come together based on sovereign equality to address common problems. India stated that UNGA provides platforms for States to exchange ideas and learn from each other, with decision‑making being an expression of sovereign equality and mentioned that States must make the Assembly deliver results for the modern day.

Cuba, associating itself with the NAM statement, firmly stated that revitalization and streamlining the UNGA was indispensable for bolstering its democratic and participatory nature. Cuba mentioned how the relevant guidelines has established that meetings, conferences and events held at the United Nations must focus on matters relating to the work of the organisation. Cuba also highlighted the strike a balance between the principal bodies of the UN.

NAM believes that UNGA is the most representative and democratic forum of the United Nations and streamlining its work would render it capable of upholding the Charter of the United Nations.

By Dr. Pawan Mathur

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