Outgoing Assembly President lauds advance in Security Council reform debate

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim

16 September 2008 – The consensus achieved by Member States on the issue of Security Council reform was nothing less than a “breakthrough” and marked a dramatic finish to the 62nd session of the General Assembly, former president Srgjan Kerim said today.

Mr. Kerim brought the session to a close last night after the Assembly adopted a decision to begin intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform in informal plenary during its sixty-third session, but not later than 28 February 2009.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr. Kerim noted that Council reform was the most difficult issue of the 62nd session.

“Member States for 15 years could not reach an agreement on Security Council reform in terms of starting negotiations. And then last night we had this breakthrough,” he stated.

It was agreed yesterday that “whatever be the outcome of such negotiations, the solution must be one which will garner the widest possible political acceptance by the membership,” he added.

Mr. Kerim also noted that Council reform “cannot be an aim by itself; it must be a part of an overall, [all] encompassing and profound institutional reform of the United Nations.”

While Council reform was the most difficult issue of the session, the former president said the most dearest to his heart were climate change and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

On climate change, he said the Assembly had managed “to make a turn around in the political climate,” noting the commitments now by Member States to negotiate within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to fix the common goals for future greenhouse gas emission targets after the Kyoto Protocol expires.

He said an important concept that was introduced into the discussion was the importance of public-private partnerships to tackle climate change. “Climate change cannot be resolved, dealt with exclusively based on intergovernmental negotiations. It is much more than that.”

Turning to the MDGs, he said the Assembly, through its various thematic debates, had “prepared the ground” for the high-level event to be held on 25 September, at which world leaders will be joined by representatives from the private sector, foundations and civil society organizations to commit to further actions to achieve the Goals on time.

He added that two other “last minute” resolutions adopted last night were on UN system-wide coherence and on the Organization’s mandate review.

“I believe these were also breakthroughs which were for years blocking cooperation and even testing the mutual trust among Member States in very important areas,” he said.

Among the other highlights of the just-concluded session were the adoption of a report on the revitalization of the Assembly, the first-ever thematic debates on human security and human trafficking, and the establishment of a close working relationship between the Assembly and the Secretary-General, said the former president.

Succeeding Mr. Kerim is Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, the President of the Assembly’s 63rd session, which begins today.


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