New General Assembly president calls for focus on priority issues

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly

18 September 2007 – Climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), management reform and counter-terrorism should all receive priority attention from the General Assembly over the next year, the incoming president Srgjan Kerim said today as he opened its sixty-second session.

In an address to Assembly members at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Kerim urged them to help strengthen the 192-member organ to ensure it is well placed to deal with the world’s most pressing problems.

“More than ever before, global challenges demand multilateral solutions,” he said. “The United Nations is the appropriate multilateral forum to take action. That is why the revitalization of this General Assembly deserves our highest attention.”

Previewing next Monday’s meeting on climate change, which will be attended by heads of State from around the world, Mr. Kerim called on Member States to dedicate themselves to devising a collaborative, global response to the phenomenon, which he noted was now causing developmental as well as environmental problems.

“The science has spoken; the time for action has come,” he said, adding that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should remain at the centre of international action.

Mr. Kerim said he would convene an informal plenary meeting on Thursday to discuss innovative approaches for the upcoming high-level dialogue on financing for development.

He stressed that the world is running out of time to achieve the MDGs, the set of eight targets for reducing social and economic ills, such as extreme poverty, all by 2015.

“Achieving the MDGs is not solely a test of our ability to deliver on our promises: it is above all a test of our moral obligations, and the values that are enshrined in the [UN] Charter.”

The new President called for greater efforts to promote peace, human rights and the rule of law, such as by strengthening the Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up last year to help countries emerging from conflict avoid sliding back into chaos or war.

On 4 October, Mr. Kerim will also convene at UN Headquarters a two-day, high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding.

“Progress on these issues, and on development, will reduce instability and the threat of terrorism. This is a win-win situation for us all.”

In addition, Mr. Kerim called for reform of the UN, “both operationally at the country level, and management at Headquarters,” as well as “the courage to move to a new stage leading to concrete results on Security Council reform.”

Earlier, speaking to reporters, he said that since he was elected in May, he has been holding consultations with Member States and various political groupings on all of these issues in a bid to spark progress.

Mr. Kerim, who is from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, served as his country’s Ambassador to the UN from 2001 to 2003 and in several other positions with his national Government.

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