Africa at the UN General Assembly 2015

UN General Assembly President hails annual debate as ‘historic and seminal’

President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre), closes the annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak
President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre), closes the annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The United Nations General Assembly wound up its 70th annual General Debate today, attended by the highest number of Heads of State and Government ever, with Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft calling it a “historic” event crowned by the “truly seminal commitment” to achieving ambitious new development goals by 2030.

In a closing speech he summarized the multifaceted issues raised by speaker after speaker who took the podium in the Assembly hall, both at the six-day General Debate and the three-day summit on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that preceded it.

“As we commemorate the 70th anniversary [of the founding of the UN], it was fitting and reassuring that leaders recalled and reaffirmed the spirit and the principles of the Charter and confirmed their faith in the central role of UN in international cooperation,” he declared.

He noted that the one of the matters most consistently raised over the past six days, was the plight of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants right across the world.

“It was stressed again and again that this unprecedented crisis of global dimensions calls for an unprecedented global response rooted in international law and international solidarity,” Mr. Lykketoft said.

“Indeed, the tragic humanitarian emergency in many parts of the world - not least in Syria and its neighbouring countries – was highlighted repeatedly. In relation to that particular conflict, many called for a renewed effort from global and regional powers to find a necessary and peaceful political solution.”

He underscored the emphasis many Member States laid on the need to address the particular obstacles to peace in Africa, in parts of Europe and beyond, stemming from instability, violent conflict, and the spread of extremism and terrorism, calling the actions of the so-called Islamic state group, Boko Haram, AI-Shabaab and other extremist groups an affront to common humanity.

He also noted that numerous speakers stressed the pressing need for reform of the Security Council to effectively fulfil its mandate and reflect the geopolitical realities of the world of today, and they voiced the hope for a transparent process over the coming year to identify a new Secretary-General to take over the helm of the UN in 2017.