Serbia's candidate for the next UN Secretary-General Vuk Jeremić presented his program before the General Assembly
Opening Remarks to the Informal UN Dialogue in the Selection
Process for the Ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations
by H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremić
Candidate for Secretary-General of the United Nations
14 April 2016
Thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity, and for your commitment to conduct the selection process for the ninth UN Secretary-General in accordance with the principles of openness, transparency, and inclusivity.
Good morning everybody;
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct privilege to be back.
Not so long ago, it was here that we launched the historic negotiations that led to the establishment of the 2030 Agenda; adopted the breakthrough Arms Trade Treaty; and helped raise this Chamber’s visibility through a series of high-level events during the 67th Session.
I believe this is a defining time for our generation, for the world is in the midst of a profound transformation—unprecedented in scale, scope, and pace. Whilst it is becoming more interdependent, multipolar, and globalized, it is also burdened by growing geopolitical frictions, accelerated environmental degradation, and an erosion of confidence in the international system.
Ensuring peace, stability, and continued human progress under such conditions will require new global strategies and solutions, as well as far more intense international cooperation.
Ad hoc pluralism, voluntarism, and informal networks—no matter how well intentioned—cannot be substitutes for concerted, robust, and inclusive multilateralism in the 21st century.
At the center of this generational task must stand the UN: the Organization uniquely endowed with comprehensive legitimacy and universal membership.
However, there is mounting criticism that the UN System is underperforming and contains too many moving parts; and that a status quo approach by the Organization will make it unfit for purpose in the 21st century.
While the UN remains a depository of grand and enduring ideas—and its people include extraordinary and dedicated individuals from all corners of the globe—the institution’s many accomplishments are in danger of being overshadowed by a sense of stagnation.
In order to fend it off, we must come together in a bold effort to rejuvenate it.
I believe that an important task for the next Secretary-General is to present a realistic set of measures to this end.
I am proud to put forth a detailed policy platform, containing 53 specific and concrete commitments that I am prepared to implement from Day One. I see it as an input for dialogue—it is by no means conclusive, or set in stone.
Last year, under the auspices of the United Nations, world leaders resolutely stepped forth to embrace a new form of cooperation on a planetary scale.
In New York and Paris, they came together to endorse a bold and universal framework for achieving sustainable development and fighting climate change.
But assuring this will not be accomplished by inertia or automation.
Such a comprehensive undertaking will necessitate a coordinated and solutions-driven global campaign, guided by the United Nations.
As Secretary-General, I would seek to place sustainable development and control of climate change at the center of the Organization’s endeavors, and direct the entire UN System to prioritize work on this critical issue.
The ninth Secretary-General will take up the post at a time of pervasive instability.
I believe it is possible for us to meet the emerging challenges, but only if there is an overhaul of how the UN conducts preventive diplomacy and peace operations.
I also believe that we need a new generation of UN stabilization missions that could be deployed wherever a need arose. As I have laid out in detail in my platform, such missions would have more robust rules of engagement; better equipment and combat logistics; a strong civilian component; and streamlined procedures to rapidly recruit qualified personnel.
A fundamental prerequisite to achieve Sustainable Development and other strategic priorities in Africa is to strengthen the African peace agenda.
I would therefore propose that we consolidate the UN’s contribution to security on the continent. In my platform, I elaborate on key elements of a New Deal for African Peace Operations.
I would also seek to enhance the Organization’s overall counter-terrorism capability, as well as work on developing multilateral responses to non-conventional threats, such as those emanating from cyberspace.
Last, but not least, recurrent evidence of sexual abuse by peacekeepers is an awful stain on our Organization. This issue must be addressed aggressively, fully, and completely.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations,” making it clear that human rights are inalienable—everywhere and for everyone.
However, nearly seventy years after that great document was adopted by the General Assembly, the UN human-rights machinery is chronically under-resourced.
As Secretary-General, I would fervently champion human rights as a system-wide core UN purpose. In my opinion, an important element in improving “Human Rights Up Front” is providing more resources to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I believe we must devote increased attention not only to civil and political rights, but to economic, social, and cultural ones as well—education in particular.
The imperative of “Never Again” has yet to be fully assured in the 21st century. As Secretary-General, I would endeavor to strengthen the UN’s early warning systems for preventing genocide and other mass atrocity crimes as a matter of priority.
For decades, the UN has worked to alleviate the plight of refugees and other populations affected by armed conflict, as well as natural disasters and catastrophes.
Yet its current capacity to provide humanitarian relief, support, and assistance in the face of recent crises has proven to be inadequate. When I recently visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, I was shocked by the suffering and hopelessness. It is painfully evident that we haven’t yet found sustainable solutions for humanitarian crises of this magnitude.
As Secretary-General, I would act decisively to mobilize sufficient resources on the part of the UN System to provide appropriate humanitarian assistance to affected populations around the world. But our duty does not end in providing them with shelter and safety. We must also make sure their human dignity is preserved, and that they get a decent chance to realize a promising future.
To assure the UN’s capacity to deliver global public goods, the Secretariat—the beating heart of the system—must be revitalized.
As the UN’s chief administrative officer, I would dedicate myself to delivering better value for money to the Member States, cutting waste, eliminating redundancy, and ensuring greater coherence and quality.
As Secretary-General, I intend to relentlessly fight corruption, fraud, and abuse; protect internal whistleblowers; strengthen the independence and operations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; require financial disclosures for all applicable staff and nominees for high-level appointments; create an annual, unified, and transparent presentation of the UN budget; and truly develop a system-wide approach to procurement.
The 1995 Beijing Declaration established the goal of 50:50 gender parity in the UN System by the year 2000. Yet more than two decades later, that goal is far from being achieved: today, less than a third of senior UN positions are held by women.
As Secretary-General, I would therefore appoint qualified women to 50 percent of UN Under-Secretary-General or equivalent positions. From Day One, I would strive to achieve gender parity in appointments for SRSGs, Deputy SRSGs, and Resident Coordinators; and I would develop plans to rapidly ensure equal representation in Director-level positions within the Secretariat.
I would also strongly encourage all the specialized agencies, programmes, and funds to do the same.
I ask for the honor of serving you again—guided by three overarching convictions: first, that ensuring more robust multilateralism represents the strongest safety-net against the global perils we face in our times; second, that a revitalized UN should be the centerpiece of global governance; and, third, that the UN’s existing resources must be used more effectively, so that the Organization can deliver the results demanded by its membership and the international community at large.
When I was a young man, I witnessed the consequences of the failure of diplomacy, the absence of the rule of law, and the surge of poverty. I fought for democracy, human rights, and reconciliation.
In my various capacities, I have paid visits to more than one hundred Member States and addressed major meetings of regional organizations worldwide. I presided over the Council of Europe, and was privileged to spearhead the efforts that led to a consensus in the OSCE. As President of the General Assembly, I worked hard to bridge the divides between developed and developing, so we were able to formalize UN-G20 cooperation.
Throughout all those years, I have held an unwavering faith in the values of the United Nations: values that bring us together under one roof with the pledge to “leave no one behind”—irrespective of gender, race, creed, color, or nationality.
Such is the bequest our generation is called upon to keep in trust: to preserve and reinforce the premier forum where the world’s nations meet as equals in sovereignty and dignity. To unite in the quest for responsible global leadership, so that we uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and enable this Organization to recapture the confidence and imagination of humanity.
Thank you very much.
Strengthening the United Nations in the 21st Century - A Platform for Action and Impact
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