|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1669|
|Release Date: 21 August 2000|
Heads of State of Namibia and Finland to Preside Jointly
Over Millennium Summit, by General Assembly Text
Interactive Round Table Sessions to be Chaired
NEW YORK, 11 August (UN Headquarters) – The Heads of State of Namibia and Finland will preside jointly over the upcoming Millennium Summit owing to the event's unique symbolism, the General Assembly decided this morning as it adopted a resolution on the organization of the Summit.
(Namibia and Finland are the respective countries of the Presidents of the fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth Assembly sessions).
Adopting the text, as orally revised, the Assembly also decided that in accordance with procedures contained in an attached annex, the Summit's overarching theme, "The United Nations in the twenty-first century", will also be the agenda of four interactive round table sessions established by General Assembly resolution 54/261 of 10 May.
Also by the text, the Group of African States will chair one of the four round tables, while the Asian States, the Eastern European States and the Latin American and Caribbean States will chair the other three. By other terms, Member States that did not belong to any regional group may participate in different round tables to be determined in consultation with the General Assembly President.
The annex also provided for the participation of representatives of intergovernmental organizations, parliaments and civil society in meetings of the Millennium Summit.
Prior to adoption of the resolution, several delegates raised concerns relating to verbatim records of the round tables as opposed to summaries of the deliberations. Others raised questions over the participation of religious and spiritual leaders in Summit meetings.
Speaking on those issues were the representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, China, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Syria, Bahamas, Egypt, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Chile, Sudan, Cuba, Malawi, Oman, Mexico, Bahamas, Namibia, Singapore, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and India.
In other business this morning, the General Assembly took note that the Republic of Congo and Ecuador had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to take action on a draft resolution submitted by its President on Organization of the Millennium Summit of the United Nations (document A/54/L.87).
By that draft, the Assembly would decide that the Summit shall be organized in accordance with procedures set forth in an attached annex. The text states that owing to the unique symbolic moment of the event, the Summit's Co-Chairpersons -- the Heads of State of the respective countries of the President of the Assembly's fifty-fourth session and the President of the fifty-fifth session (Namibia and Finland) -- will preside jointly over it.
According to the annex, the overarching theme of the Millennium Summit, "The United Nations in the twenty-first century", will also be the agenda of four interactive round table sessions established under General Assembly resolution 54/261 of 10 May. Heads of State and government would be free to discuss any sub-themes proposed in the Secretary-General's report (document A/53/948 and Add. 1), those raised in consultations, or any other matters they wish to address.
The annex says that pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/261, the Group of African States will chair one of the four round tables, while the Asian States, the Eastern European States and the Latin American and Caribbean States will chair the other three. Each Head of State or government attending the round tables may have two advisers.
The Prime Minister of Singapore and Presidents of Poland, Venezuela and Algeria will chair the round tables.
Member States that do not belong to any regional group may participate in different round tables to be determined in consultation with the General Assembly President, the annex states. The Holy See and Switzerland, in their capacity as observer States, and Palestine as an observer may also participate, subject to similar consultations.
Also pursuant to resolution 54/261, one or more representatives of intergovernmental organizations, parliaments and civil society may participate in the plenary meetings of the Millennium Summit, time permitting.
In that connection, and without prejudice to other organizations which have observer status in the General Assembly, a representative of the following organizations may be included in the list of speakers for the plenary meetings: League of Arab States, Organization of African Unity (OAU), European Commission, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, Millennium Forum.
In addition, the text says, one representative each from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta may also be included in the list of speakers for the plenary meetings, time permitting.
GEORGE McKENZIE (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking before the vote, said paragraph 11 of the draft should be amended to allow those bodies with observer status to the General Assembly, such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to speak at the Millennium Summit.
AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) proposed that the four heads of the roundtable sessions present their summaries orally and individually. He agreed with the attendance of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOS) and civil society at the Summit, but participation by religious and spiritual leaders would suggest selectivity. Furthermore, priority should be given to inter-governmental representatives and those which had observer status with the Organization. In addition, verbatim records should only be made available to delegations.
SUN JOUNG YUNG (Republic of Korea) asked whether the two advisors referred to in paragraph 4 of the text included interpreters.
WANG DOAGHUA (China) felt that the Summit should emphasize its inter-governmental nature. The General Assembly did not usually invite any of the NGOs listed in paragraph 11 to participate in its conferences and meetings. If representatives of those bodies were allowed to participate, then all NGOs should attend the Summit. They would definitely have an impact on the work of the Assembly. Only those with observer status should be allowed to participate.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, hoped that it would be possible for the representatives of the organizations listed under paragraph 11 to speak at the roundtable sessions. Therefore, paragraph 7 should include a relevant phrase to facilitate such participation by the Holy See, Switzerland and Palestine, among others, in their capacity as observers.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) noted that his delegation was one of those requested to provide oral written minutes of the round table meetings. Paragraph 10 should note that oral summaries should be individual ones reflecting the positions of each of the round-table meetings.
ARTHUR MBANEFO (Nigeria), acting Assembly President, emphasized that the President of the General Assembly had already made a ruling on verbatim records. The decision for the method of keeping those records should be made by the heads of the round table sessions.
MAURICE MOORE (Bahamas), referring to paragraph 5, thought there would have been flexibility within each grouping regarding geographical distribution in the round table sessions and that the final composition would have been agreed among the Chairmen of the four round-tables.
Mr. MBANEFO (Nigeria), acting President, noted that consultations on that issue were undergoing with the Chairmen of the regional groups.
AHMED DARWISH (Egypt) said having verbatim records should be seriously considered, particularly for transparency. Also, why should additional NGOs be allowed to participate given the limited time that was available? he asked. The event was a governmental one.
TENIOLA OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria) said reference to the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, as a possible participant, should be deleted from the resolution.
ELMIRA IBRAIMOVA (Kyrgyzstan) drew attention to the reference of participation by Heads of State in the round table sessions. That paragraph should be amended to include heads of delegations.
CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said agreement had already been met over the leadership and participation in the round table sessions. The heads of those sessions, who had already been identified, should meet with the participants in prior informal consultations to decide on the content of the discussions in those meetings.
DAFFA-ALLA ALHAG ALI OSMAN (Sudan) pointed out that the last sentence in paragraph 10 was provocative. Usually, elements included in a resolution had already been agreed upon, but here that was not the case. The sentence should be deleted.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARILLA (Cuba) said the rules of the General Assembly did not set any regulations on sovereign decisions with regard to its meetings, yet restrictions had been placed on the time for Heads of State to make their statements.
YUSUF JUWAYEYI (Malawi) said verbatim records should be kept for posterity.
MOHAMED AL-HASSAN (Oman) agreed with the representative of Kyrgyzstan on the need to streamline language in the text to accommodate countries that would not be attending the Summit.
GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) said that participation in the round tables must be confined to governmental representatives. There was no reason to provide for the participation of representatives of international organizations. Mexico supported the existing understanding that there be no verbatim records.
Mr. MOORE (Bahamas) clarified that, as the current Chairman of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, he had not attended a meeting where consensus had been reached on the distribution of the chairmanship of the round tables.
SELMA NDEYAPO ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) supported the Acting President’s appeal that delegates not reopen debate on decisions that had already been made regarding the logistical aspects of preparations for the Millennium Summit. Cooperation and flexibility were needed so that the Assembly could finalize the draft resolution before it.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that given the pressure of time, he hoped some form of consensus would be reached on the draft resolution. The Heads of State and government must be given priority both in the plenary and in the round tables.
HORACIO FERNANDEZ PALACIO (Argentina) asked what criteria had been used in making changes regarding the participation of the Latin American and Caribbean Group in the round tables.
Mr. MBANEFO (Nigeria), Acting President, said that space considerations had been taken into account in making the changes.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-AHMED (Saudi Arabia) proposed amendments to paragraphs relating to the participation of Heads of State and to the number of advisers accompanying them.
MANSOUR AYYAD AL-OTAIBI (Kuwait) supported the proposal by the previous three speakers.
BAEIL-SOON LEE (Republic of Korea) said it was not necessary to repeat the composition of the round table four times in paragraph 5.
Mr. DOUTRIAUX (France) supported the statements of Chile and Singapore on the role of the four leaders of the roundtables.
Mr. PALACIO (Argentina) reiterated the request for raising the number of participants from the Latin American and Caribbean group in the round table sessions to ten.
Action on Draft
The General Assembly then adopted the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.
Explanation of Vote
Mrs. ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) said her delegation attached historic importance to the upcoming event. It was a Summit for all Member States and the content of the resolution was a reflection of its importance. Therefore, the preparatory process should concentrate on the larger issues and not reinvent the wheel.
ATUL KHARE (India) said he joined those speakers who regretted the deletion of the reference to the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders as participants in the meetings of the Millennium Summit.
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