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HIGHLIGHTS
of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly


What have we accomplished in light of the priorities
set out by this year's Presidency?

"Given the challenges we faced at the beginning and throughout the session, what we have been able to achieve together, and the ambitious agenda we have set ourselves for the remainder of the session," President Julian Hunte said, "it is safe to say that this session has thus far been nothing short of extraordinary".

One important priority was addressing the challenges to sustainable development.

On 22 September, the General Assembly convened a High-level plenary meeting on HIV/AIDS, to assess the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS, two years after Member States agreed to a time-bound set of targets to roll back the disease. One hundred thirty-six speakers, among them nineteen heads of state participated in the one-day high-level plenary. The President of the Assembly then urged interventions that go hand in hand with policies that address poverty, socio-economic development, human welfare and social cohesion.

On the same Development priorities, he chaired on 21 October 2003, a Panel Discussion on International Cooperation in Tax Matters as taxation is one of the major instruments of domestic resource mobilization.

On 27 October 2003, in the same perspective, President Julian Hunte also chaired an Open-ended Panel on commodities. More than one quarter of the United Nations 191 member states rely on commodity exports for more than fifty per cent of their export earnings.

On 29 October, the Assembly opened a two-day high level dialogue on Implementation of Financing for Development Commitments. The aim of the Dialogue was to re-energize the global community's focus on issues relating to trade, aid, debt, investment and the international financial architecture

President Hunte feels that the priorities on Globalization and trade liberalization issues including commodities trading and corporate accountability were properly put in focus during these meetings.

On one major priority: the revitalization of the General Assembly, President Julian Hunte assisted by a team of Facilitators, began in October, a process of consultations to determine a course of action for revitalization of the United Nations General Assembly. Three informal open-ended plenary meetings, on 15 of October, 18 November and 12 December, as well as the 27-31 October debate on Item 55, "Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly" provided the platform for expression of views, comments on proposals and broad discussion of the revitalization issue in general. A consensus resolution was adopted on December 19 as a means of ensuring that the General Assembly can effectively meet contemporary global challenges.

In the field of peace and security, another one of the priorities established by the Fifty-eighth session was to address the situation in the Middle East. This issue was brought three times to the General Assembly during the first part of the session in the form of requests to resume the 10th Emergency Session on Palestine, after a majority of member states were dissatisfied over a US veto in the Security Council : On 19 September 2003, on 21 October 2003 and on 8 December 2003, when the Assembly, meeting in a resumption of its tenth emergency session on Palestine, adopted a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to urgently render an opinion on the construction of the wall being built by Israel. On 19 December, the principal judicial body of the United Nations, the ICJ, decided to open hearings next February on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of a separation barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory.

See details in Press release GA/10226>>