ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

130th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly: Standing Committee on UN Affairs

19 March 2014
130th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly: Standing Committee on UN Affairs

Opening remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
Acting Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva
130th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly:
Standing Committee on UN Affairs

Room 2, Level 0, International Conference Centre, Genève
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 9 a.m.

Excellencies
Dear Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am very pleased to be with you this morning for the opening of the Standing Committee on UN Affairs.

When I addressed you at the opening of the General Debate on Monday, I emphasized the essential role of parliaments – and of IPU – in promoting peace, democracy, development and human rights in the world.

Today, I want to focus in more depth on the relationship between the United Nations and the IPU in taking forward these shared objectives, and on our collective efforts to advance development, and how I see parliamentarians playing a role in the determination and subsequent implementation of the post-2015 development framework.
As I highlighted on Monday, parliamentarians are natural partners of the United Nations, and we very much need you as partners. You are a key link between our Organization and the people we serve. You pass the national legislation which puts international commitments into practice. You hold governments accountable for promises made – to the international community and to citizens of the world.

As an extension of this, IPU is also a natural partner. The relationship between our organizations has only grown since the cooperation agreement signed nearly two decades ago. With ties to all the major regional and other parliamentary assemblies in the world, IPU has a global reach. Its capacity-building, provision of information on UN operations and decision-making processes to parliaments, as well as its work on gender equality is of great value to us. The mission by the Advisory Group of this Committee to Haiti is the perfect example of IPU’s contributions in this regard.

Over the past two decades, the IPU has made much progress in injecting the parliamentary dimension into the work of the United Nations, at both the political level, as well as at the working and country-level.

Where I think more progress can be made is on the injection of the UN dimension into the work of parliaments. IPU, as a communicator of issues on the UN agenda of concern to parliamentarians, clearly has an important role to play as a catalyst for information and action.

I believe that bringing the UN into parliaments may also be done by you, the parliamentarians yourselves. There is not a single individual on our planet who is not touched at any given moment by an act generated somewhere in the UN system. You can help us make your constituents understand exactly what it is that the UN does for them, and how actions taken by this global organization affect their daily lives on a very real and practical basis.

We need to – collectively – find better ways of explaining to your citizens and decision makers the impact and need of what the UN does in order to reverse the weakening perception of the legitimacy and usefulness of our indispensable organization. Parliaments – together with the media – have a primordial role in helping us do so.

Let me now turn to the post-2015 development agenda, which is one of the key items of discussion at this Assembly:

The parliamentary contribution to the post-2015 development agenda is key for the United Nations in order to ensure that the future Sustainable Development Goals will be anchored in strong national ownership.

As you know, the task of defining a new development agenda is a great opportunity and a huge responsibility for the UN and the rest of the international community.

All the intergovernmental processes related to the post-2015 development agenda have gained traction, including those stemming from Rio and the 2010 MDG summit. Five major UN reports have already been completed.
There is a growing consensus among the international community that a business-as-usual approach to this process is neither desirable nor feasible. The post-2015 agenda provides the opportunity for a paradigm shift in international development to build on the MDGs and address the eradication of poverty within the context of sustainable development in its three core dimensions, i.e. economic, social and environmental, as identified at the Rio+20 conference.

From the UN side, the key elements of the Secretary-General’s vision for the post-2015 development agenda are the following six elements:

First, universality: to mobilize all developed and developing countries and leave no one behind;

Second, sustainable development: to tackle the interlinked challenges facing the world, including a clear focus on ending extreme poverty in all its forms;

Third, inclusive economic transformations: ensuring decent jobs, backed by sustainable technologies, and to shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production;

Fourth, peace and governance: based on the rule of law and sound institutions, as key outcomes and enablers of development;

Fifth, a new global partnership: recognizing shared interests, different needs and mutual responsibilities, to ensure commitment to and means of implementing this new vision; and

Sixth, being “fit for purpose”: to ensure the international community is equipped with the right institutions and tools to address the challenges of implementing the sustainable development agenda at the national level.

During the next 12 months, the work of the Member States Open Working Group on the SDGs, the High Level Political Forum, and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing will be intense.
Member States will be discussing and unpacking a number of critical issues over the next two years – including the concept of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and means of implementation including the role of trade and ODA. These discussions will be happening in parallel with the negotiations on Climate Change.

In September 2014, we hope to have ready all the inputs needed for the formal launch by the General Assembly of the final phase of the intergovernmental negotiations leading, eventually, to a Summit in 2015.

I believe that it is critical that parliaments play an integrated role in defining and implementing the Post-2015 agenda. It is you, the parliamentarians, who can mobilize resources for development, enhance accountability through legislative oversight and give voice to the most vulnerable through proper representation.

Strong and well-functioning institutions working in an integrated manner are required to achieve our aspirations for a just and prosperous world.

Ultimately, we will together need to arrive at one single and cohesive development agenda for post-2015, with sustainable development at its core, and imbued in the key principles of human rights, equality and sustainability.

Voices from capitals will need to be heard clearly to enhance ownership and ensure member governments are fit for purpose to implement this integrated agenda when agreed.

I hope that this gives you some food for thought as you continue your discussions during this Assembly. I am convinced that there are many possibilities for enhanced cooperation between the UN and parliaments – through IPU and directly at the national level. I look forward to continue the discussion on how we can better work together to address our common challenges and achieve our shared goals.

Thank you very much.