Explanation of Vote on a UN General Assembly Decision Entitled: Procedure for Decision-Making in the GA When an In-Person Meeting is Not Possible

Mark Simonoff
Minister Counselor for Legal Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 13, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States thanks Liechtenstein and the core group for their initiative. The UN General Assembly needs to be prepared to take essential operational decisions in the event that the General Assembly is unable to hold in-person meetings in the future. We hope that day will not come again, but it is important to ensure that the General Assembly has the tools it needs for the UN to function. Thus, the United States voted in favor of the decision.

The United States welcomes the decision’s provision that “the procedure set out in the present decision shall be applied in as limited a manner as possible and with a particular focus on the continuity of essential functions of the General Assembly.” Accordingly, we should commit to using this procedure to adopt “essential operational decisions,” such as the adoption of budgets, the extension of mandates and the postponement or cancellation of meetings. It should not be “business as usual” when the General Assembly is unable to meet in person. Each and every Member State will need to exercise self-restraint.

Finally, it is well within the authority of the General Assembly to adopt this decision, and we would hope that all Member States will respect any decisions adopted by the General Assembly under this process, in the unfortunate event that we need to resort to this process in the future.

Thank you, Mr. President.