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New York, 22 December 2011

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media.

This has been an eventful and demanding year for the United Nations, with several significant developments since I assumed the Presidency of the General Assembly.

I am here today to share with you some important highlights of this GA session so far.  I will also alert you to some of the most important events and issues ahead of us, as we prepare to enter the New Year.

In fact, the last three months have been among the most exciting of my two-decade experience of diplomatic service here at the United Nations. During this Sixty-Sixth Session of the General Assembly, I believe we have achieved some great strides with certain key issues in many areas.

First of all, we are all witnesses to the protests, calls for freedom and other developments across the Arab World.  You call it the Arab Spring but I think the more appropriate description should be The Arab Awakening.  These popular protests have generated a lot of concern for the needs and demands of people in the affected countries, especially in the areas of Human Rights and the rights of women and the youth. 

The General Assembly is increasingly getting vocal on Human Rights issues.  There is growing consensus among Member States for the protection and promotion of human rights across the world -  especially in the countries experiencing the Arab Awakening. 

Under my Presidency, the General Assembly remains active in galvanizing the necessary global partnership to assist the Governments and people in the Arab World during this Arab Awakening.

This leads me to a second major point:  My close collaboration and joint initiatives with the Secretary-General of the UN.  I, as President of the UN General Assembly, teamed up with the Secretary-General to embark on two significant joint visits to Libya and Somalia.  We are demonstrating the UN working as one to achieve the best results for the benefit of groups and people in need around the world. 

We travelled to Libya on November 2nd, to show the UN’s strong support for the efforts being made by Libyans to re-build a new nation after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. 

And just over a week ago, on 9 December, we were both in Somalia, on a joint visit to send a clear message of support to the people of Somalia.  We are affirming that the international community is standing behind the Somali people, and I believe that the Roadmap for Somalia is the best way forward.

Now, just a few more highlights in the General Assembly:

One, the General Assembly has adopted a political declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs  or non-communicable diseases. This is very important because these diseases are now the biggest cause of death worldwide. But this doesn’t have to be so, because many of these deaths are preventable.  Millions of people in developing countries are increasingly becoming victims of this crisis.  And this major declaration by Member States should help to deal with this issue fully and quickly.

Two, we – in the General Assembly - have spoken with one voice against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Despite great gains made in the fight against racism too many people still suffer from racist attitudes and deep discrimination.  We must do more to promote and ensure equality and non-discrimination across the world and for global prosperity and harmony.

Three, on Libya:  we worked with consensus to restore the legitimate representation of the Libyan people at the UN.   

Four, on Palestine:  we are witnessing an historic development here at the United Nations, following the application for UN membership by the Palestinian President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas.  His speech during the General Debate received the most applause and attention and many Member States continue to uphold their recognition and support for a Palestinian statehood.

Moving ahead, and considering the four key pillars I have outlined for our focus this session, we will be making strides and great efforts in the following ways:

On the first pillar, “The Peaceful settlement of disputes”, “The Peaceful settlement of disputes”, I believe that Mediation remains a key tool for the peaceful settlement of disputes around the world.  For the remainder of my term as President of the General Assembly we shall be organizing high level events to ensure all Member States achieve good results in this area.

On my second pillar , “UN reform and revitalization and Security Council Reform”, I continue to stress that  reforming the Security Council is vital for the revitalization of the entire UN system.  I will organize a retreat on Security Council reform scheduled for early next year.  The Council must reflect 21 Century realities and we need constructive discussions moving forward.

Under the third pillar, “Improving disaster prevention and response”, we continue to highlight the terrible humanitarian situation of famine and food insecurity in Somalia.  And, I plan to organize a thematic debate on disaster prevention and response in the Spring of 2012.

The fourth pillar I’ve chosen for this session of the General Assembly is “Sustainable development and global prosperity”. Under this theme, the first ever High level meeting on desertification was held last September on the margins of the General Debate. We are all gearing up for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio next June, (Rio-plus-Twenty).  To add momentum to their efforts I convened a retreat on 17 & 18 December, under the theme: “Paving the way for a successful Rio+20”.  The summary of this retreat is going to help towards making Rio-plus-Twenty, a success.

In addition to these issues there are other important areas of work, where we are spending much effort for good results … and just to mention a few …

On Nuclear Disarmament , the Revitalization of the disarmament machinery including the Conference on disarmament in Geneva remains one of the key priorities. With this in mind, I intend to address the conference on Disarmament in Geneva in January.

This is just a brief outline of some of the key issues we have addressed since the start of this session of the General Assembly.  We have about nine more months to go ….. And we will continue to tackle all the topical important issues on the international agenda.

Before I take your questions, let me just say thank you to you, members of the media for working with us to find solutions to the many of the challenges facing the UN and the international community.

Your responsible and timely coverage of events of the General Assembly and the UN as a whole contribute greatly to success of our efforts around the globe.  I thank you.



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