General Assembly elects former Danish Foreign Minister as President of 70th session

Sam Kutesa (right), President of the 69th session of the General Assembly, meets with Mogens Lykketoft, Speaker of the Parliament of Denmark and President-designate of the General Assembly’s 70th session. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

15 June 2015 – The United Nations General Assembly has elected by acclamation Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark as President of its upcoming 70th session.

Addressing delegates immediately after his election today at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Lykketoft, who has served both as Denmark’s Foreign and Finance Ministers, declared that his Presidency would be marked by a “commitment to action” towards building “a more fair and stable world” in line with the objectives set out by the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“What is now in front of Member States is the final stretch towards adopting a universal, people-centred, transformative development agenda that addresses the struggle of our lifetime,” he affirmed. “When implemented, it will enable us to eradicate poverty while keeping climate change at bay, building resilience, and creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”

Mr. Lykketoft, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year just as the UN marks its 70th anniversary, took care to point out the three priorities that, he said, would define his mandate, including a commitment to action, a surge in UN efforts to cement international peace and security, and a clear effort to support further progress for human rights.

“My goal is to seek pragmatic and action-oriented outcomes that can provide guidance on how to proceed with timely and effective implementation for all actors – the UN system, Member States, civil society, and private sector,” he continued, adding that his intention was to conduct the Presidency in “a transparent, inclusive and open manner.”

The President-elect further noted that he would take into consideration many Member States’ continuing interest in Security Council reform, particularly ahead of the selection process for the next Secretary-General.

Nonetheless, he stated, the focus must remain on rebooting the UN’s unique form of multilateralism which, in turn, fosters trust and hope in global solutions.

“Today’s decision-makers must acknowledge that 2015 is the time to make a new commitment to action for the sake of generations to come,” Mr. Lykketoft stated. “We will have to find ways to achieve sustainable growth, where the distance between rich and poor nations and peoples does not become larger but smaller. Where we not only create development and eradicate extreme poverty but also deliver a more equitable access to and distribution of global goods.”

Congratulating Mr. Lykketoft on his new role, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the former Danish politician for his “outstanding commitment” to development and his “great understanding of the major challenges of our times.”

Such aptitude, he noted, will prove to be critical as the UN and international community are propelled towards a series of target dates for the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development initiatives and for the fight against climate change.

“This election is an annual event on the United Nations calendar – but this year offers an extraordinary opportunity to shape history,” Mr. Ban continued. “We could not have a better leader in His Excellency Mr. Lykketoft.”

The Secretary-General added that he counted on the new General Assembly President to celebrate the upcoming UN milestones – including the Organization’s 70th anniversary – with “an even stronger commitment” to multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity.

“Together,” he concluded, “we can act so the United Nations lives up to its historic ambitions for this year and helps secure the long-term future of our world.”

In his remarks, Sam Kutesa, current General Assembly President, said the world body’s 70th anniversary session will be historic, as member States are expected to adopt an ambitious and transformative post-2015 development agenda, as well as work towards a universal climate change agreement in December, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“With these important milestones approaching, we still have important preparatory work during this 69th session,” he said, noting in particular, the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda and the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held next month in Addis Ababa, have reached a critical stage. “We have to redouble our efforts in order to ensure successful outcomes,” he said.

Mr. Lykketoft will kick-off his Presidency in September at the commencement of the 70th General Assembly session.

Made up of all the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the General Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

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