12 September 2006

Closing 60th Session, General Assembly Hears Call by Outgoing President for Greater Cooperation between Principal United Nations Bodies

Assembly Refers Several Agenda Items to 61st Session; Urges Continuing Efforts on Security Council, Economic and Social Council Reform

NEW YORK, 11 September (UN Headquarters) -- While praising the "strong and decisive action" taken by Member States over the past year to revitalize the General Assembly, that body's outgoing President, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, today called for extra efforts to ensure that the United Nations principle organs -- the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Assembly -- worked even more effectively and harmoniously together.

"The United Nations is only as effective as its Member States wish it to be … [and] with hope battling against hopelessness and justice living side by side with injustices, the challenge is whether we have the collective will to combine together for the greater good", Mr. Eliasson declared, closing the Assembly's sixtieth anniversary session today.

"Well done", Mr. Eliasson told delegations as he highlighted key decisions the Assembly had taken in a year characterized by conflict, terrorism and other "dramatic events", as well as such "silent disasters", as poverty, disease and environmental degradation.  Having been tasked by the 2005 World Summit with a long "'to do' list", he said that, among other things, the Assembly could be proud of its decisions that created two important new United Nations institutions:  the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council.

"No longer will the international community turn its back once the fighting has stopped", he said of the Peacebuilding Commission, which will help countries emerging from conflict build stability and lasting peace, and is expected to begin its work shortly with its first two cases:  Burundi and Sierra Leone.  Of the "truly universal" Human Rights Council, he said that, for the first time, every country in the world would have its human rights record reviewed.  "There will be no political selectivity, nor any place to hide."

He also noted last Friday's agreement on a counter-terrorism strategy, what he called a "concrete plan of action" that genuinely answered desperate calls from around the world for the United Nations to send a clear message that the international community was shouldering its responsibility to act together to fight what was now "one of the most serious global threats".  He also drew attention to the Assembly's creation of a Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which would ensure that never again would survivors of disasters perish while the international system "shakes the fundraising tin".  The Assembly had also given new and dynamic impetus to the fight against HIV/AIDS at a High-Level Meeting.

"But our work is not finished.  Many items on our reform agenda represent a work in progress … we have serious work ahead.  Much is at stake:  our common security, the well-being of all, the quality of our individual lives and of our heritage on planet Earth to the next generations", he said, encouraging delegations to press ahead on such outstanding issues as non-proliferation and disarmament, fair and equitable trade, and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Security Council reform.

Before handing over the traditional gavel to the incoming Assembly President, Sheikha Haya Rashid Al Khalifa Bahrain -- who will be the body's first female leader since 1969 -- Mr. Eliasson said that there were no fewer tensions in the world in 2006 than there had been this time last year; more than ever before the international community needed to focus on the underlying lack of dialogue among civilizations, cultures and nations.  "This lack of understanding knowledge and respect goes to the core of many of today's problems", he added.

Wrapping up the work of the session, the Assembly adopted a draft decision included in the report of the Open-Ended Working Group on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters (document A/60/47), by which it would urge the Group to continue considering the issue during the sixty-first session, and decided that the Group itself should continue to exert efforts at achieving progress on Security Council renewal, taking into account, among other things, discussion on implementing the Outcome of the 2005 World Summit.

On follow-up to the Outcome of the Millennium Summit, the Assembly noted that, although negotiations on ECOSOC reform had not been concluded this past Friday, good progress had nevertheless been made.  It decided to continue consideration of the issue during its sixty-first session.

Also included on the draft agenda of the sixty-first session were matters related to the prevention of armed conflict; the question of Cyprus; armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

In addition, the Assembly also decided to continue consideration of a range of matters on the draft agenda related to armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security, as well as to the consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait, and the Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity on the aerial and naval military attack against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by the present United States Administration in April 1986, and items related to the situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti.

Speaking after the Assembly decided to include the item on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan on the draft agenda of its sixty-first session, the representative of Armenia said that her delegation dissociated itself from the decision.  She said that Armenia was committed to the negotiations within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group towards a comprehensive solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  She reminded the Assembly that Armenia, by negotiating with the Minsk Group framework, did so because Azerbaijan refused to negotiate directly with the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh.  Any Azerbaijani exploitation of that fact in international organizations would result in Armenia's disengagement from the negotiations process.

And after the Assembly decided to conclude its consideration of an item on follow-up to the recommendations on administrative and internal oversight of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations "oil-for-food" programme, the representative of Costa Rica called for the matter to be placed on the provisional agenda of the sixty-first session.  The representative of Spain then requested that a summary of the Inquiry's reports be provided to delegations in the Organization's six official languages.  The representative of Iraq supported that request.  President Eliasson said the General Committee would consider the matter.

The Assembly decided to defer consideration of its item on strengthening the United Nations system, and include it on the agenda of the sixty-first session.  The item on financing the United Nations Mission in East Timor was also deferred.

Also placed on the draft agenda were matters related to the situation in the Middle East; the question of Palestine; report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children; information and communication technologies for development; globalization and interdependence; international migration and development; and human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Assembly also placed on the draft agenda of its next session items on financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors; proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007; programme planning; scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations; human resources management; the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU); the United Nations common system; the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS); financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

On matters related to administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Assembly placed on the sixty-first session's provisional agenda requirements for missions in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Georgia, Kosovo, Liberia, peacekeeping forces in the Middle East, Sierra Leone, Western Sahara, Sudan and Haiti.

The sixtieth Assembly completed its work with a moment of silent prayer and meditation.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 12 September, to open its sixty-first session.

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