16 September 2008 The new President of the General Assembly today kicked off the 63rd session of the 192-member forum with a call to democratize the United Nations so that it can deal more effectively with the world’s most pressing problems and ensure that the voices of a few do not overwhelm the views of the majority of others.
Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a former foreign minister of Nicaragua, pledged in his opening address to the session to dedicate his year as President to representing the interests of “the dispossessed of the world” and fostering solidarity between peoples and Member States.
“I am aware of the great expectations which the vast majority of the dispossessed inhabitants of our threatened planet have placed in the United Nations to bring them peace, security and to defend their right to life and to full development,” he said. “We must not fail them.”
Mr. D’Escoto told delegates that he had taken up the post “at this difficult time for humanity,” citing a series of deep problems, including widespread hunger and poverty, the impact of climate change and unequal access to water.
“The central and overarching objective of this… [session] will be to democratize our United Nations. In so doing we will ensure that the United Nations maintains its place as the world’s most important and indispensable Organization for achieving the levels of peace and security that our peoples are so rightly demanding of us.”
Mr. D’Escoto noted he would try to transform what he labelled “the prevailing exclusionary logic of selfishness” in the world, saying it had crippled the ability of the General Assembly to fulfil its mandate.
“The state of our world today is deplorable, inexcusable and, therefore, shameful. What Tolstoy denounced as ‘mad selfishness’ explains why, as trillions of dollars are spent on wars of aggression, more than half the world’s people languish in hunger and destitution. Our priorities, sisters and brothers, could hardly be more confused.”
The President said Assembly members would focus during this session on examining the root causes of major problems, such as the current crisis caused by soaring prices of many basic foods, and its effect on hunger and poverty.
He also said a high-level dialogue will be held during the next year on the subject of democratizing the UN. The event will be split into three sessions that consider the Bretton Woods and other international finance institutions, the role of the General Assembly, and the size and format of the Security Council.
Reform of the 15-member Council was among the most urgent challenges facing the UN, he noted.
“It is a sad but undeniable fact that serious breaches of the peace and threats to international peace and security are being perpetrated by some members of the Security Council that seem unable to break what appears like an addiction to war.
“In the case of some of those members, the veto privilege seems to have gone to their heads and has confused them to the point of making them think they are entitled to do as they please without consequence.”
The resolutions of the General Assembly should also become binding, warning that all too often the resolutions are ignored by Member States.
He added that climate change, access to water, terrorism and human rights, nuclear control and disarmament and human trafficking are among the other priority themes during the 63rd session.
Later, in response to questions from journalists, he said he hoped to reach the heart of people and show them the value of love and solidarity and the dangers to the human species and the natural world.
“We must… do away with dreams and hopes about planetary domination. All imperial dreams and behaviour are totally against the spirit and the letter of our Charter and certainly are going to lead us to our extinction.”
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