New York, March 31: India has called to restore the electoral processes in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as an initial step towards reforming and revitalising the working methods of the 193-member UN organ.
Counsellor in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Anjani Kumar during a debate on Working Methods on Wednesday said, "The General Assembly has been conceived as a form of Global Parliament. In this context, the process of elections that are conducted by the General Assembly may be a useful place to begin the revitalisation process."
Anjani Kumar further said that the General Assembly must lead the way by following the best electoral practices and setting up highest standards befitting its stature. “Several other delegations have pointed out how the General Assembly has steadily lost touch with its core responsibilities and is increasingly involved only with processes,” he added.
Informing about the use of technology to improve efficiency and transparency of electoral systems across the assembly, Kumar said that the UN could also explore how technology can be used to improve the current electoral practices to substantially reduce errors of interpretation and speed up the entire process in a transparent manner.
Kumar also noted that the current practice requiring voters to write the names of individuals or country candidates on paper ballots often leads to unintended confusion and discrepancies through mis-spelling. "If paper ballots are to be used, a simpler and more effective way could be for the names of the candidates being printed on the ballots, with space for any last minute additional candidatures. This could reduce the margin of errors considerably," he said.
He said the UN Secretariat should conduct a time-bound analysis of the current electoral practices, identify gaps and problems, explore other solutions including technologically advanced electronic voting systems and recommend specific suggestions for improvements.
Kumar further gave specific submissions for consideration are as follows:
i. No distribution of election material or any gifts in the balloting room.
ii. Printing names of all candidates on ballot papers, provided they have sent written
communications till a specified date and provision of space for writing in other names.
iii. Display of candidate lists on electronic screens to serve as reminders.
These suggestions, we feel, are 'doable' low-hanging fruit that is ripe for harvest as starters.
"Making these changes in the electoral processes would signal our collective will to move forward with specific reform of Working Methods that could energise various other processes of the General Assembly," he added.
Giving his final remark Kumar said, “We welcome the other specific constructive suggestions that various delegations have made in the context of improving the Working Methods.”
“The success of the United Nations rests on the effectiveness of the General Assembly to carry out its role as its chief deliberative and policy-making body as envisaged in the UN Charter. We must all work together to ensure that the preeminent role of the General Assembly is fully restored in the best interest of the UN System. Our delegation will continue to engage actively in this process,” Kumar concluded.