BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
AT THE CLOSE OF THE GENERAL
2 OCTOBER 2003
Secretary-General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
come to the end of the general debate of the fifty-eighth
session of the General
Assembly. It is noteworthy that this session attracted the
highest level of participation since the Millennium Summit.
Among the 189 speakers, the Assembly heard 50 Heads of State,
27 Heads of Government and 94 Deputy-Prime-Ministers and
my sincere appreciation to every Head of State and Government,
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for their active
participation and for their constructive contribution to
the debate, and support for my stated priorities.
I opened this general debate, I indicated that I would be
listening carefully to the priorities identified by high-level
participants, which would provide the framework for this
Assembly's work. What I have heard gives clear indication
of where member states are on many of the critical issues
that will be before the Assembly.
was resounding support in the general debate for multilateralism
and reaffirmation of the United Nations as the primary international
organisation to address critical global problems. In fact,
many expressed the view that in these unsettled times, the
United Nations and multilateralism were needed now, more
central role of the General Assembly as advocate, supervisory
and policy-making body was a point consistently made. However,
continuing revitalisation efforts were urged, to permit
the Assembly to deal effectively with challenges, both old
and the prosperity of countries and regions received much
attention from high-level representatives. They supported
the view that the fifty-eighth session should give appropriate
focus to issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, equity in the
global economic system and the preservation of the environment.
The regrettable outcome of the Cancun round of negotiations
gives new impetus to calls for full consideration of development
issues by the General Assembly, including the Millennium
speakers reminded us that the outcomes of the High-Level
Dialogue on Financing for Development, set for 29-30 October
2003, would be critical to the work we will do in the area
of development. Therefore, we expect wide representation
and high-level participation in the High level Dialogue.
support was expressed for the ten year review of the Plan
of Action for the Sustainable development of Small Island
Developing States. This should auger well for the successful
review in Mauritius in 2004, and implementation of its outcomes.
attention was given to Africa's development needs, as well
as the requirement to keep these matters high on the Assembly's
agenda. Many stressed the need for continued international
support for the implementation of NEPAD, and for cooperation
and support to bring peace and stability to the African
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report on the work
of the organisation, gave us thought provoking insight into
his priorities for the coming year. In this context, we
have noted the Secretary General's proposals on United Nations
reform, including the establishment of a high-level panel
of eminent persons to review these matters for our consideration.
Council reform continued to command attention. The general
view was that the Assembly should continue this work, notwithstanding
that efforts in this area for more than a decade had not
yielded tangible results.
not recall a statement in which the situation in post-war
Iraq and the need to urgently address all aspects of it,
was not emphasised as a priority for the United Nations.
This was an area in which general support was expressed
for initiatives to bring relief to the people of Iraq and
to permit them to take responsibility for their own future.
without exception, all condemned the brutal attack on the
United Nations premises in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 and
the loss of life and injury to, United Nations staff. It
was agreed the attack was the latest, and a formidable,
challenge to the United Nations and to the security of United
Nations staff. There was support for the Secretary General's
initiative to review the matter of safety and security for
United Nations staff.
situation in the Middle East was considered to be a matter
of grave concern. It was thought that the General Assembly
should send a strong message to both sides in the conflict
- Israel and Palestine - urging them to put an end to bloodshed
and violence. Implementation of the proposed Road Map was
seen by many as a viable means of bringing long-lasting
peace to the Middle East.
one day High-level Plenary on HIV/AIDS which took place
on 22 September 2003, immediately preceding the general
debate, was considered by all to have been both constructive
and productive. The views expressed in both the Plenary
and the interactive debate underscored the need for a cooperative
approach in addressing this most devastating pandemic.The
foregoing is my brief, personal observations, of salient
issues raised in the general debate, which I thought I should
share with you.
reviewed the many statements, I was struck by the common
ground among speakers over a wide range of issues. This
makes me hopeful that we will be able to do good work in
this General Assembly during the fifty-eighth session.
Our leaders have given direction to the work we are to do,
and political support for it. We must now carry forward
the commitments they have made, if the hopes and aspirations
expressed are to be realised.
me conclude by expressing my sincere appreciation to the
Vice Presidents of the General Assembly for their assistance
and cooperation in the conduct of the work of the general
debate. I also wish to thank the dedicated secretariat staff
and commend them for their support and cooperation.