25 August 2010
General Assembly
GA/10972

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Plenary

113th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Elects Joan Clos of Spain New Executive Director

 

of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

 


Also Elects Georgia to Seat on Commission on International Trade Law;

Pays Tribute to Two Former General Assembly Presidents Who Died in August


The General Assembly today elected Joan Clos ( Spain) as Executive Director of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to a four-year term of office, beginning on 18 October 2010 and ending on 17 October 2014.  Established in 1978 to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all, UN-Habitat contributes to the Organization’s overall objective to reduce poverty.  Mr. Clos had been recommended by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


It also elected by acclamation Georgia to the sixty-member Commission on International Trade Law, the United Nations’ core legal body in that field, beginning in June 2011, the first day of the Commission’s forty-fourth session, and filling the unexpired term of office of Belarus.


Prior to that action, the Assembly paid tribute to two people who played important roles in its history:  Guido de Marco, former President of Malta and President of the Assembly’s forty-fifth session, who died on 12 August; and Samir Shihabi, former Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia and President of the Assembly’s forty-sixth session, who died on 20 August.


“They helped steer us through a time of transition for the world and for the United Nations,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in opening remarks.  “We are full of sorrow today.  But we also recognize the tremendous good they did for and among us.”


Long before he had become Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said their paths had crossed in 1991, when he was working in the Republic of Korea’s foreign ministry.  In May of that year, as Assembly President, Mr. De Marco had visited Seoul and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as part of efforts towards United Nations membership for both States.  Four months later, on Mr. Shihabi’s first day as Assembly President, the flags of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were raised in the Organization for the first time.


Mr. De Marco was not just a former president of the General Assembly, he said.  As President of Malta, he led his country into the European Union and sought to ensure that his nation played an active role in international affairs.


Offering condolences also to the family of Mr. Shihabi and the people of Saudi Arabia, he said that, in addition to Mr. Shihabi’s outstanding diplomatic service to his country, he was a “dynamic” presence at United Nations Headquarters.  He contributed across the Organization’s agenda, including to the Assembly’s revitalization.  “I have benefited greatly from his vision and experience and always looked forward to his company,” he said.


General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki, of Libya, said he had the honour of knowing the two former Presidents, whose friendship he deeply valued and would continue to cherish.  Mr. De Marco had led a remarkable life of service and would be remembered for his leadership in promoting Euro-Mediterranean dialogue for the enhancement of regional security and cooperation.


Mr. Shihabi’s distinguished career in foreign policy and diplomacy had begun in 1949 at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said.  As Assembly President, he had made an outstanding contribution to the United Nations, particularly as the founder of the Assembly’s Council of Presidents.


Following a moment of silence, several delegations took the floor to express their condolences over the loss of the two diplomats.  Statements were made by Cambodia, on behalf of the Asian Group; Bosnia and Herzegovina, as Chair of the Eastern European Group for the month of August; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Canada, speaking on behalf of Western European and Other States.


Saviour F. Borg ( Malta), thanking delegates for the tribute to the memory of Mr. De Marco, said their messages of sympathy and sorrow would be transmitted to the family, Government and people of Malta.  Indeed, Mr. De Marco had been a strong believer in the United Nations and his legacy would long be cherished by the international community.  He also extended profound condolences to the family of Mr. Shihabi.


Omar Ali Saleh Al Oyaidi ( Saudi Arabia) extended his appreciation to delegates for their condolences.  He also expressed condolences to the Government and people of Malta.


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For information media • not an official record