The statement was held in First Committee on October 14th, and went as follows:
Allow me first to thank Ambassador Jarmo Sareva for his constructive engagement for improving the working methods of the First Committee. The informal consultations he conducted here in New York and in Geneva have greatly facilitated our task to reach common thinking on how to revitalise our Committee. We greatly appreciated his presence in Oslo in December last year at our informal workshop on working methods.
Let my also thank you, Mr. Chair, for your strong commitment in finding new and innovative ways to make the First Committee to work better. We are indeed making progress – we have already conducted a more focused General Debate, and we are looking forward to more substantive thematic debates.
In particular, we support your call for more interaction among delegations. We consider that dialogue has a value in itself. Through interactive debates Member States engage in exchanging views and experiences on how to address our common security threats. We believe that such dialogue may help us in building consensus on how to deal with security and disarmament challenges.
Norway has been active in the deliberations on how to improve the working methods of the First Committee. We remain convinced that an enhanced role for the First Committee will have positive spin-offs on other parts of the multilateral disarmament machinery. It is evident that neither the Conference on Disarmament nor the United Nations Disarmament Commission are living up to expectations.
Our efforts to improve the functioning of the First Committee is also part of a broader process to revitalise the UN General Assembly. Resolution 58/316 has tasked us to look into the way our Committee works. We have to respond to that.
The reform process will take time. We have to proceed in a step by step manner. More importantaly, we have to agree on what measures should be taken. To this end, Norway has organised two informal workshops with participants from all regions. Our intention was to indicate a possible way ahead by identifying where there may be a convergence of views. Our observations from the last workshop, held here in New York on 3 October, were circulated last week. Additional copies are available at the back of the room, together with other documentation related to the workshop. We hope the conclusions we drew from the workshop can contribute to a common apporach towards an improved and more politicly relevant First Committee.
Let me turn to concrete measures that could be carried out.
Norway holds the view that some improvements may be carried out on the basis of decisions made in this Committee, while others need an approval from the UNGA. We agree with you, Mr. Chair, that it is up to us to decide the format of our general and thematic debates. We also consider it useful to draw on experiences that we have gained elsewhere in the UN system, for example by involving relevant expertise and finding a balanced manner to engage with civil society. When it comes to the question about numbers of resolutions, we believe it is up to countries themselves to bi- or triannialise them. We encourange such steps, while we also recognise the sovereign right of any state to raise issues of concern in this Committee. In our view, there is a clear need for consultations on the agenda for next year, including on how to cluster the agenda items. We believe that such clustering would facilitate our preparations of next year´s session of the First Committee.
We should also consider how to make better use of the UNDC, and engage this body more in efforts to improve the disarmament machinery. It would be useful if the Disarmament Commission was requested to conduct further work on this issue during its next Session.
This debate should lead to a consensus resolution that reflects all delegations´ views on these and more issues. I would like to underline the importance we attach to agreeing on one single text. This process is, as I have already underlined, one that must be carried out by all Member States together. Competing resolutions on this crucial issue must be avioded. We understand that work is underway to create one single text, and take this opportunity to applaude those efforts.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, Norway believes that measures to make the individual Committees more effective must come from within the Committees themselves. All efforts must converge in the overall General Assembly reform process.