ASSEMBLY TAKES UP SECRETARY-GENERAL'S REPORT ON WORK OF ORGANIZATION
ASSEMBLY TAKES UP SECRETARY-GENERAL'S REPORT ON WORK OF ORGANIZATION19951017 Draft Resolution Introduced on Limiting Tide of Documents Flooding the Organization
Documents originating in the Secretariat for submission to the General Assembly would, except in special cases, be limited to 16 pages or less by the terms of a draft resolution the United States introduced to the Assembly this morning. The Assembly today began its consideration of the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization.
Under the provisions of the draft, the Secretary-General would be requested to present oral, rather than written, reports where appropriate and to provide an oral estimate of the cost of any document or report requested by Member States when an intergovernmental body adopted a resolution containing such a request.
In introducing the draft resolution, the representative of the United States said his country was seeking to reverse the tide of documents that was flooding the Organization. Recognizing that the Fifth Committee had special competence in the matters addressed by the resolution, the United States would propose to refer the draft resolution to that Committee.
Regarding the report of the Secretary-General on the Organization's work, the representative of Iraq quoted several paragraphs to the effect that because of the shortage of essential drugs and medical supplies, among other things, increasingly Iraqi children were dying of ailments linked to malnutrition and lack of adequate medical care, and that hunger threatened the lives of more than one million Iraqi civilians. "We hope that these paragraphs bring to the attention of the international community the fact that the human tragedy of the Iraqi population is caused by the Security Council resolution, and the continuation of such tragedy has no reason whatsoever to exist", he said.
The representative of Pakistan said that the fast-deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir showed the urgency of intensifying the Secretary-General's efforts at mediation. Pakistan would propose that the Secretary-General consider appointing a special representative to collect correct information concerning that situation.General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/8957 32nd Meeting (AM) 17 October 1995
The representative of Austria said the Assembly and all other deliberative bodies should work with the Department of Public Information to improve the public image of the United Nations both in the United States and in each of the Member States. As the Organization relied on the high quality and dedication of its staff, it should strengthen the idea of an international civil service, protect the staff against undeserved criticism and find a way to pay special tribute to the staff on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary.
Other statements related to the Secretary-General's report were made by the representatives of Malaysia, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Australia, Germany, Slovenia, Belgium, Estonia, Brazil and Yemen.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 October, to hear any remaining speakers and rights of reply on this agenda item. It is also scheduled to take up the first report of the Credentials Committee and to discuss the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to begin its consideration of the Secretary-General's report on the work of the Organization and to take up a related draft resolution.
In his annual report on the work of the Organization (document A/50/1), the Secretary-General states that the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations presents an opportunity to review the Organization's first half- century and prepare for its second, and to address ways to regain the global momentum that appeared at the outset of the current decade. (For further details, see press release SG/SM/5742-GA/8923 of 25 September 1995.)
The expectations following the fall of the Berlin Wall five years ago -- that nations would work together for the economic and social progress of the whole of humankind -- have remained largely unrealized, he states. Many conflicts defy efforts at settlement, new wars have continued to erupt -- mostly within States -- and total assistance to developing countries has actually declined.
The Secretary-General emphasizes the essential linkages between the United Nations political and development missions, as well as a comprehensive vision of its role in which the advancement of human rights and democracy are essential elements of both of those missions. He also highlights his commitment to reforms in the structures and working methods of the Organization -- a process which is gaining momentum.
To the end of reforming the United Nations into a simpler, more focused and more integrated organization, the Secretary-General puts forward "a management plan designed to create a mission-driven and result-oriented organization". That plan is based on the achievement of five fundamental objectives: better management of human resources; better management of the Organization's programme, from the identification of priorities through performance measurement; better information with which to manage; better management and extension of technology; and better management of the Organization's cost structure.
By the terms of the draft resolution on modalities for documentation (document A/50/L.5), which is sponsored by the United States, the Assembly would decide that documents originating in the Secretariat for submission to it should not exceed 16 pages, except when the Secretary-General certified that the document represented a special case, such as reports dealing with human rights violations, and others warranting greater length.
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The Assembly would also decide that documents originating in functional commissions and other subsidiary bodies should not exceed 24 pages, and reports should not include descriptions of a history of the subject already contained in other documents.
Under the provisions of the draft resolution, the Secretary-General would be requested to present oral, rather than written, reports where appropriate and to provide an oral estimate of the cost of any document or report requested by Member States when an intergovernmental body adopted a resolution containing such a request. The Assembly would endorse the recommendation made by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the publications activity of United Nations agencies system, including an analysis of the extent to which publications were used by Member States and the cost effectiveness with which publications were produced.
The Secretary-General would be requested to present to the General Assembly at its next session an oral report on the cost savings resulting from those measures, under the terms of the draft.
DAVID E. BIRENBAUM (United States) introduced his country's draft resolution on modalities for documentation (document A/50/L.5). He said the United States supported the Secretary-General's management plan to make the United Nations more efficient. It was seeking to reverse the tide of documents that was flooding the Organization. In the current biennium, it would cost $295 million to produce documents in New York and Geneva. He asked who could even claim to have read those documents. The United States believed the actions proposed by the draft resolution would result in less paperwork.
He said the United States recognized that the Fifth Committee had special competence in the matters addressed by the resolution, and therefore the United States would propose to refer the draft resolution to that Committee.
V. YOOGAMINGAM (Malaysia) said that chapters I and V of the Secretary General's report on the Organization could be considered an executive summary of the report. The 133-page report was mandated in the Charter and should not be subjected to cost-saving measures. The quality of the report should take precedence over quantity.
He said that in the final chapter, entitled Conclusion, the Secretary- General addressed three immediate problems which could cause irreparable damage to the United Nations if not effectively addressed. Those were the need to respect the safety and integrity of United Nations personnel in the
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field, the need to place finances on a sound footing and the need for a new vision for development. The Assembly remained seized of those issues through the open-ended working groups.
He said it was time for the Organization to look at other means of financing its work, rather than depending merely on the contributions of States. The Assembly, in particular in the general debate, remained the only universal, intergovernmental forum where leaders could freely state their views without fear of reprisal, he said. It would therefore be wrong to curtail the general debate and the adoption of resolutions as ostensible cost- saving measures.
He said Malaysia felt the Trusteeship Council should be eliminated. It also agreed with the report, that development should be recognized as the foremost task of our time. On peace-keeping, he said an area of concern was the need for consultation between troop-contributing countries and the Security Council. Consultations should be regularized.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that the developing countries, for whom the Agenda for Development was a priority, appreciated any contribution aimed at promoting the adoption of a global guideline of that character, but from the very moment of its inception, the developing countries had clearly defined the priorities and dimensions of that Agenda. Cuba hoped that the offer to assist the developing countries in that goal's achievement would be compatible with the developing countries' own priorities and dimensions.
Maintenance of peace and acts of coercion were not the proper response when there was no consent or cooperation of the parties in conflict, he said. And the Security Council should never be the umbrella to cover unilateral decisions of States or groups of States to intervene in situations which were the exclusive competence of the internal jurisdiction of States. Cuba was prepared to consider the draft resolution on documentation in the Fifth Committee.
H.L. DE SILVA (Sri Lanka) said that the general mood of euphoria that had emerged at the end of the cold war seemed to have gone as swiftly as it had come. The financial costs of the new demands on the Organization continued to be a strain. There was a need to secure the foundations of a durable peace in the economic and social sphere.
He hoped ongoing discussions on the Agenda for Development would finally yield fruitful results. The Secretary-General's report appeared to highlight economic, social and humanitarian work. That was an important corrective to the high visibility of its work in the area of international conflict.
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He said the instances of institutional weaknesses and failed enterprises were the consequences of poorly framed mandates and of insufficient finances. He supported reform of the United Nations, as well as the establishment of the open-ended high-level working group of the Assembly.
He said those concerned for the welfare of the Organization needed to be aware of the problems of the safety and integrity of United Nations personnel in the field, the Organization's deteriorating finances, and the dwindling resources being made available for development because of demands made by peace-keeping.
RICHARD ROWE (Australia) said the United Nations should remain particularly alert to the opportunities envisaged in the Charter for advancing the peace agenda through regional organizations. The United Nations must, as a matter of the most urgent priority, forge a new agenda for development and reshape its relevant institutions to implement that agenda effectively. Australia welcomed the Secretary-General's efforts in that regard, in particular his recognition of the relationship between peace and development.
It was also imperative, he said, that ways be found to allow the Bretton Woods institutions and United Nations bodies to work in closer harmony. And, the institutions of the United Nations relevant to economic and social development were urgently in need of reform. The General Assembly's high-level working group on that issue must complete its work this year and must do so creatively, setting aside past vested interests in the system. It was also time to look again and very seriously at the options which existed for supplementing Member States' contributions by external sources of finance, such as through levies on foreign-exchange transactions and on international air travel.
GERHARD HENZE (Germany) said work to reform the Security Council should not begin because one or another country wanted change, but because there was a consensus that neither its composition or working methods corresponded to changes in the United Nations, its membership and tasks. The statements in this year's general debate indicated a great majority of States considered reform of the Council to be urgent. The various reports and proposals should be creatively reconciled.
He said that, if the United Nations community as a whole called on Germany to serve as a permanent member of the Council, it would be prepared to assume that responsibility. However, additional seats were also needed for the regions of Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. More efficient and transparent working methods were also needed.
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He said that progress in economic and social areas was visible in many countries, whereas others remained at the margins. His country appreciated efforts of the Secretary-General to adapt to a rapidly-changing global environment. Germany attached the highest priority to reforming the Organization into a more focused and integrated organization, particularly in the social, economic and related fields. It would also support a more dynamic relationship between the main intergovernmental organs -- the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.
Continuing, he said the Economic and Social Council should play the central role in coordinating follow-up and implementation of major United Nations conferences. He hoped that the work of the General Assembly and the Bretton Woods institutions, in regard to renewed efforts in support of African development, might be discussed in the forum of the Economic and Social Council.
DANILO TURK (Slovenia) said the Secretary-General's report was a valuable tool which testified to the diversity and vigour of United Nations activities. It showed that the complex challenges of the post-cold war era posed serious problems for the United Nations. The financial situation of the Organization continued to be grim, and it was hoped that all countries would fulfil their financial obligations.
The reform of the Security Council should be energized, he said; there should be an appropriate expansion of the number of permanent and non-permanent members. At the same time, given the diminishing role of the state in most economic matters, it was inappropriate to propose the establishment of the economic security council envisaged in some reform proposals.
NIZAR HAMDOON (Iraq) said it was necessary to enhance the democracy and spirit of collective work in the decision-making process and working methods of the United Nations. Since the end of the cold war, the supremacy of one super-Power had led it to impose its views, interests and policies on the United Nations to the detriment of the interests of most Member States and the principles of the Charter.
He went on to say that according to the most recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Security Council (document S/1995/884), Iraq was facilitating and expediting the Agency's work and fulfilling its reporting requirements. He quoted several paragraphs of the Secretary-General's report on the work of the Organization to the effect that health conditions were continuing to deteriorate throughout Iraq because of the shortage of essential drugs and medical supplies, inadequate supply of potable water and sanitation facilities, as well as lack of equipment and spare parts to rehabilitate the water, sewage and electricity supply system.
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Increasingly, children were dying of ailments linked to malnutrition and lack of adequate medical care, and hunger threatened the lives of more than one million Iraqi civilians. "We hope that these paragraphs bring to the attention of the international community the fact that the human tragedy of the Iraqi population is caused by the Security Council resolution, and the continuation of such tragedy has no reason whatsoever to exist", he said.
ALEX REYN (Belgium) said that perhaps the most important statement in the Secretary-General's report was that mutually beneficial institutions of cooperation were a global necessity. Today, the international community faced challenges which no State was able to face alone. In that context, the United Nations remained the best instrument for preserving solidarity.
He said Belgium attached great importance to economic and social development and also to human rights. The series of major conferences just ended showed the importance of those issues; further work on them remained to be carried out.
However, he said, emphasis on development did not mean the United Nations would abandon it peace-keeping efforts and responsibilities. It was still required to defend the collective security of all, and was important to preserve solidarity in action to achieve peace.
TRIVIMI VELLISTE (Estonia) said his country would like to reiterate that no double standards should be allowed in any of the questions that were in the competence of the United Nations, including security and disarmament efforts. He expressed his delegation's satisfaction with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme's global approach to the problems of narcotic drugs, which, he said, were causing increasing problems for Estonia.
The activities of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, particularly his efforts to strengthen international cooperation, should be made available to a wider audience, he said. To enhance the effectiveness of peace-keeping operations, and, in particular, to allow for rapid deployment, a stand-by arrangement system should be further developed.
SHAFQAT MAHMOOD (Pakistan) said hopes for a better and more prosperous future at the end of the cold war had not been fulfilled. Wars and conflicts had erupted between States. The total volume of development assistance to developing countries had declined. The resources at the disposal of the United Nations were woefully inadequate.
Pakistan was committed to continuing the United Nations role in peace- keeping; at present, his country was the third largest troop-contributor. But, despite the difficulties reported by the Secretary-General regarding
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peace-keeping resources and missions, peace-keeping should be supported at all costs. Priority should be given to United Nations conflict prevention.
He said that last year the Secretary-General had offered to exert every possible effort for a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue. Pakistan welcomed this. This year's report confirmed increasing violence in Jammu and Kashmir and further aggravated relations between India and Pakistan. Brutal repression and human rights violations continued unabated. Indian troops had used rape as a weapon of war against Kashmiri women. More than 50,000 Kashmiris had been killed in the last five years through an Indian campaign of state terrorism.
He said Pakistan had made many offers for a peaceful solution of the dispute. Since May 1990 it had proposed establishment of a neutral mechanism to monitor and observe the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The Security Council had proposed that the final disposition should be through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. However, the fast deteriorating situation showed there was an urgency for intensifying the Secretary-General's mediation efforts. The appointment of a special representative who could collect correct information concerning the situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be considered.
ERNST SUCHARIPA (Austria) said it was essential to eliminate duplication, waste and mismanagement, but reform must not stop at the level of the Secretariat. "We, representatives of Member States, must also critically appraise our own performance: does the sharply increasing number of meetings and requests for reports by the Secretary-General really correspond with an increased and improved output of our deliberations?"
The Assembly and all other United Nations bodies should redirect their focus towards the individual's well-being. "This Organization must be seen to make a real difference for each and every woman and man, each and every child; it must reach out to the individual." The efforts of the Assembly and those of other bodies should be combined to help improve, in conjunction with the Department of Public Information, the public image of the United Nations both in the United States and in each of the Member States. As the Organization relied on the high quality and dedication of its staff, it should strengthen the idea of an international civil service, protect the staff against undeserved criticism and find a way to pay special tribute to the staff on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary.
CELSO L.N. AMORIM (Brazil) said the General Assembly's crucial functions would be enhanced by the work of a number of working groups. He looked forward to the debate on the reform of the Security Council. In his report,
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the Secretary-General said that the Assembly had been devoting less of its attention to regional conflicts and more of its attention to issues of social and economic development.
Nevertheless, he said, more of the Organization's overall time and resources were being devoted to peace-keeping. Regional conflicts were a growing area of concern and the Security Council had been devoting more of its deliberations to them. He called for a more fluid relationship between the Security Council and the general membership.
On development, he said his country maintained the deepest solidarity with the countries of Africa in their need for development. Economic and social rehabilitation in countries of the Great Lakes region offered a challenge for accomplishment in the post-conflict period.
MOHAMED AL-AKWA (Yemen) said, regarding recent conflicts in that country, that it was continuing to promote and enhance the democratic process, based on political and economic pluralism, freedom of the press and of expression. It had abided by and applied the contents of relevant Security Council resolutions. The conspirators were able and welcome to come back and defend themselves against the charges brought against them. Yemen was guaranteeing them a just trial and would abide by the rulings of the court. The United Nations and any other governmental or intergovernmental organization could be represented at the trial and ensure the legality of the proceedings. And the Secretary-General could advise the Member States to put an end to discussion of that issue, since such discussion was no longer necessary.
He appealed to the international community to expedite the provision of adequate assistance so that Yemen could remove anti-personnel mines and deal with the extreme damage caused to its economy and infrastructure by the conflict. The country's own resources had been limited because of flows of refugees from Somalia and other countries; he requested more refugee assistance.
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