President commends post-2015 agenda progress as General Assembly concludes 68th session

General Assembly President John W. Ashe closes the 68th session of the Assembly in the newly-renovated Hall. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

15 September 2014 – Closing the current session in the newly-renovated General Assembly Hall, President John Ashe today expressed gratitude to Member States for their cooperation in focusing on perhaps the biggest generational challenge of the United Nations: crafting an inclusive, participatory, people centred post-2015 development agenda.

“These are indeed troubling times and they require resourceful, dedicated and focused responses. I am therefore grateful for your cooperation…in helping me to ‘set the stage’ for this collective endeavour,” Mr. Ashe said in his closing address to the 193-member body.

The UN post-2015 development agenda, which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015, has the “eradication of extreme poverty as its overarching objective,” Mr. Ashe said.

Member States had “wholeheartedly” joined in a wide spectrum of high-level events and thematic debates he had convened to pave the way towards the new agenda, which yielded good results.

Some 300 resolutions and 80 decisions were adopted on a range of issues including nuclear disarmament, rule of law, financing for development, the peaceful use of outer space, the right to privacy, the safety of journalists and peacekeeping missions budgets.

Mr. Ashe looked forward to the upcoming 69th session of the Assembly as an opportunity to build on those accomplishments as well as to “break new ground” in addressing pivotal developmental issues, and emerging challenges.

“As we usher in the 69th session, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) you have developed will form the main basis for whatever set of concise goals you agree to for the post-2015 development agenda,” Mr. Ashe said.

That agenda has the potential for transformative change and to eradicate poverty and bring dignity to the lives of all human beings by building on the foundation and successes of the MDGs.

To that end, his General Assembly had achieved important milestones including the completion of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which gives SIDS a mandate to marshal support for their agenda within the context of the post-2015 agenda.

In addition, the Assembly completed a review on global counter terrorism strategy and the launch of the first ever UN Web Portal for victims of terrorism. On social and humanitarian issues, the Assembly produced the High Level Declaration on migration and development and adoption of the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

While there had been many accomplishments, much remains to be done particularly in the area of revitalizing and reforming the organization. Some progress has been made in revamping the work of the General Assembly, and the Economic and Social Council.

However, much remains to be done in the area of Security Council Reform, Mr. Ashe continued, adding that the organization must be truly representative and inclusive.

“While it would be foolhardy to underestimate the challenges inherent in getting to a round of real negotiations on Security Council reform, it must not be a course of action from which we shy away,” he said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked Mr. Ashe for “working tirelessly” and for his wise leadership in steering global discussions towards constructive solutions.

“You came to the United Nations from a small island with a big capacity to work with other countries. You used your training as an engineer to build consensus. You also carried a longstanding commitment to sustainable development that you translated into results,” Mr. Ban said.

Progress was made in laying out the foundation for the post-2015 development agenda and a meaningful new climate agreement by the end of next year. When global crises left the Security Council paralyzed – the General Assembly rose to act.

“Above all, I believe this session of the General Assembly has truly set the stage for the success of the post-2015 development agenda,” said Mr. Ban highlighting how Member States and civil society came together to work on making positive effect on our collective long-term future.

The 69th session of the General Assembly is set to open tomorrow.

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