06/12/2022 Political Affairs and Democracy | Secretary General of the Assembly
The PACE Sub-Committee on External Relations met in New York on 28-30 November 2022 on the occasion of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, with Antonio Gutiérrez Limones (Spain, SOC) in the Chair and with the participation of PACE Secretary General Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis.
Participants noted that the UN’s Agenda 2030 development programme has suffered the double setbacks of COVID and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. They discussed with UN interlocutors the prospects for continued progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including by leveraging Council of Europe standards. UN interlocutors encouraged the ‘46’ to continue to strengthen human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to contribute with its expertise to the forthcoming UN Summit of the Future.
Challenges to multilateralism were also addressed. While Russian aggression is an affront to the UN Charter, it was stressed that international law is still key, that the UN continues to play a role in various domains, and that co-operation and complementarity with regional organisations remains essential. Challenges to multilateralism and human rights are such that enhanced co-operation is crucial.
It was emphasised how, given the political deadlock at the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly has taken on a more central role and partnerships with regional organisations like the Council of Europe are even more important. Complementarity between the UN and Council of Europe was also discussed, including relating to membership, human rights frameworks and development co-operation.
The important role of parliamentarians in several areas of UN work was highlighted during the visit, mostly on counter-terrorism, promoting inter-cultural dialogue, pushing governments to fulfil SDGs, supporting a new approach to development co-operation, and ensuring adherence to international law.
The sub-committee met notably with Csaba Kőrösi, President of the General Assembly; João Miguel Ferreira de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel; Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations; Miguel Angel Moratinos, Under-Secretary-General, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations; Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General, Administrator of the UNDP; Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General, UN Office of Counter-Terrorism; Ilze Marianne Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Head of the OHCHR in New York; and Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas.