President, Colleagues and Friends,
am touched and honoured to be elected President of the sixtieth
session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
I am deeply grateful for the support given to Sweden’s
candidature by the Member States of our regional group and
by all of you today. Your support takes on a special significance
for my country, since the legendary Secretary-General Dag
Hammarskjöld was born in Jönköping, Sweden,
this year one hundred years ago.
At the outset, let me pay tribute to Secretary-General Kofi
Annan for his untiring and dedicated work and for his courage
and vision in presenting us, the Member States, with “In
Larger Freedom”, the most comprehensive and cohesive
proposal to strengthen the United Nations since the birth
of the Organization.
President of the General Assembly has now, after consultations
with the Member States, transformed this proposal into a
draft declaration for us to consider and for our Heads of
State and Government to adopt at the High-level Plenary
Meeting of the General Assembly, 14-16 September. It is
incumbent upon all of us to deal with this proposed declaration
thoroughly, creatively and with a commitment to accept global
responsibility. The wise and decisive leadership of President
Ping — at many crossroads and difficult choices —
has been and will be key to the success of this highly important
Today, we are all of us facing a test of multilateralism.
we develop the concepts and methods to deal with global
problems in this age of rapid globalization? Will we be
able to make the UN system a more effective actor on the
world scene? These are major, even historic, tasks for our
peoples, societies and Governments as well as for all of
us here at the UN, we the practitioners of multilateral
main task now is to accept, and live up to, the triple challenges
of development, security and human rights. The three are
intertwined and affect and reinforce each other.
Let us remember the calls of the Preamble of the UN Charter
“to practice tolerance and live together in peace
with one another as good neighbours” and “to
unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”
as well as “to employ international machinery for
the promotion of the economic and social advancement of
all peoples”. I continue to be impressed with the
wisdom and far-sightedness of the framers of the Charter.
Let us commit ourselves to work in their spirit.
But let us also work with our eyes directed to the realities
of this world. Let us place the human beings and the real
problems in the centre — and organize ourselves accordingly.
Let us always keep in mind the words “we the peoples”
in the Preamble of the Charter.
The litmus test and the measuring rod for UN reforms must
be the difference they make for people and crisis areas
around the world: for the starving child, the AIDS-stricken
mother, the war-torn country, the polluted river, the desperate
refugee, the oppressed and neglected and, not to forget,
the struggling and unselfish humanitarian workers of the
UN and the NGOs as well as the UN and regional peacekeepers.
What I would call “field tests” should be applied
to all reform proposals.
have strong personal memories from my time as Under-Secretary-General
for Humanitarian Affairs and from many natural and man-made
disasters around the world. The nightmare of Somalia 1992-1993
will forever remind me of the urgent need for prevention,
for early action and for effectively dealing with civil
wars and the tormenting ethnic and religious conflicts.
We cannot, after Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur,
continue to say “never again” without seriously
undermining the moral authority of the UN and its Charter.
will in my Presidency also be guided by values and principles
which are pillars of Sweden’s foreign policy: belief
in multilateral cooperation, the imperative of prevention,
respect for the rule of law and human rights, solidarity
with the poor and persecuted, and concern for the rights
of women, for the children of the world and their future,
and indeed, for the health of Planet Earth. These aspirations,
I know, are shared by people and nations in all regions
of the world.
strongly believe that regional organizations and cooperation
should be strengthened and energized as a result of the
reform efforts in the UN. Regional arrangements form an
integral part of the UN Charter and must be important elements
in a necessary international division of labour in this
time of many pressing issues and demands around the world.
United Nations is not a panacea or a universal cure. It
reflects the collective political will of the Member States
and their interest in strengthening the multilateral system.
Effective international norms and structures should be seen
to be in every nation’s national interest.
In order to achieve this, we must offer international solutions
and methods which correspond to the needs of today’s
world: fighting poverty, diseases, organized crime, trafficking,
terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
and environmental degradation, as well as preventing and
resolving conflicts and stopping mass killing, torture and
abuse. For this we have to sharpen the tools of the UN and
develop concepts which reflect our preparedness to face,
and act on, these fundamental challenges.
This is the essence of the reform project of the UN: building
a UN which effectively and legitimately responds to the
urgent needs around the world and adds value to our work
for security, prosperity and a life in dignity for all.
Making real progress to reach this end would be our most
important contribution to the historic test of multilateralism
which we are now facing.
we at the UN pass this test, we will not only enhance the
prospects for effective international cooperation. We will
also be able to more effectively deal with widening gaps
and dangerous imbalances. And, on a deeper level, we could
instil hope, and belief in the future, in a world of growing
fear and suspicion. We must mobilize political will to change
negative trends and to prevent polarization and pessimism.
And we must realize that we have the opportunity and the
capacity to do so at this moment of history.
In a spirit of dialogue and transparency, I will as President
of the sixtieth General Assembly work together with all
of you in this common endeavour. Let us bring out the full
potential of this central body, the General Assembly, and
let us together build a strengthened UN.
In our daily work, toiling with UN reform in the committees,
meeting rooms and secretariat offices, let us be inspired
by Dag Hammarskjöld’s words in his book Markings
(or, in direct translation from Swedish, “Waymarks”)
on the need for vision and a long-term perspective:
look down to test the ground before taking your next step:
only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will
find his right road.”