At the conclusion of the Sixty Fourth Session of the General Assembly
New York, 14 September 2010
Excellencies, Secretary-General, distinguished delegates
As the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize some of our major achievements, realized with your support, and to reflect on some of our ongoing challenges.
Presiding over the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly has been a great privilege for me. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ban ki-Moon, for his excellent efforts in support of our work. I was honoured to maintain a close association with Mr. Ban throughout the past year, an association that I value and one that I believe was unique to this session. I am highly grateful to all Member States for their cooperation and strong support extended to me throughout my presidency. I would also like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the members of the General Committee, to all the Vice Presidents for their support and advice and for their availability at all times, as well as to the Chairs of the Main Committees for their excellent work during the session. A number of Permanent Representatives also acted as facilitators for various processes in the Assembly on my behalf. I am thankful for their efforts and collaboration. I am very grateful to my Chef de Cabinet and all my staff, for their tireless efforts and the excellent support and guidance they afforded me throughout the session. I am also thankful to all the colleagues in the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management and all other departments and colleagues providing support contributing to the success of our work.
One of the main priorities of my Presidency was to ensure that the General Assembly's deliberations and actions took place in the great spirit of cooperation and consensus-building. I am glad that we fulfilled that promise. In my view, when decisions and actions are based on common understanding and collective interest, their implementation is far more promising. As the only international body with a truly global agenda, coupled with the status of chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations, it is imperative that the General Assembly act with the full support and engagement of its membership.
In this respect, I have been encouraged by the world leaders' strong commitment and support for the United Nations as the center-stage of dialogue, multilateralism and collective action to address the multiple challenges of today’s world. I had also been invited to visit a number of countries during my Presidency, where I could appreciate first-hand the importance that the international community attaches to multilateralism and the vital role of the United Nations.
Yet, the task of effectively coping with the daunting challenges confronting us has not been easy. Also, we often see the General Assembly and the UN as a whole as either sidelined, on the periphery or under-utilized on several crucial issues of today. Our challenge is to utilize the full potential of the General Assembly corresponding to its charter functions and powers. In doing so we must strive to enhance our working methods and the role and authority of the General Assembly.
Excellencies, Secretary-General, distinguished delegates
I am pleased with the Assembly’s deliberations and the important work done on a host of issues during the course of this session. Your persistent efforts and continuing cooperation have led to several key decisions including those we have adopted in the last days.
I congratulate you on finalizing the outcome document for the High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals to be held from 20 to 22 September. With this, you have laid the ground work for a successful summit at the eve of our leaders’ arrival in New York. This summit will be a crucial opportunity not only to renew the commitment but to mobilize world-wide efforts in the coming years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We must fulfill that pledge to lift the world out of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, social and economic inequalities, which will enable us to turn a new page in our efforts to achieve progress and sustainable development for all the peoples and regions of the world. We must continue to strengthen international cooperation and partnerships in support of these objectives. It will be an honour for me to co-chair the Plenary Meeting together with H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss, the President of the 65th session.
The General Assembly is also set to hold two other high-level meetings in September. The High-Level Review to assess progress made in addressing the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States through the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for further Implementation of the Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States is expected to adopt a political declaration containing specific recommendations for achieving tangible progress in this area. The high-level event on the International Year of Biodiversity will be another opportunity to renew our commitment to achieve the internationally agreed biodiversity goals and targets, vital part of our efforts to promote sustainable development.
Thematic debates have been an important feature of this session, contributing to the fostering of interactive discussion and helping to explore and solidify common approaches to pressing issues on the UN agenda. An important thematic debate related to international peace and security was on disarmament, a part of efforts to realize the Assembly's prerogatives on the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of arms, and to support collective efforts in this field. The high-level thematic debate on peacekeeping was the first to be held in the General Assembly on what is now one of the biggest activities of the United Nations. It was an excellent opportunity to consider the future of peacekeeping, including its political dimensions, the interlinkages between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the nexus between security and development.
After decades of efforts and negotiations, the question of Palestine remains unresolved. In this session, the General Assembly played a constructive role in support of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It is my hope that the General Assembly will continue to contribute meaningfully to advancing the peace process.
Experience has shown that true success lies not merely in reaching decisions to establish new bodies, but in actualizing their objectives and mandates. I am pleased that the General Assembly began a comprehensive review of the Peacebuilding Commission during the sixty-fourth session. I am satisfied with the process of this review so far, though I believe the review and its outcome have the potential of being more ambitious with focus on more result-oriented recommendations.
The mandated review of the Human Rights Council was also initiated in the sixty-fourth session, to be concluded during the sixty-fifth session. I hope that it will serve to further strengthen the Human Rights Council, while preserving the consensus around this important organ.
The format of informal meetings of the plenary of the General Assembly was also usefully employed during the session to foster discussions on a host of important issues. For the first time, combating international maritime piracy, with a focus on the situation in Somalia was considered in a high-level meeting of the Assembly. This meeting helped to develop a comprehensive view of the issue, which had hitherto been the domain of the Security Council. The General Assembly also held a high-level meeting on combating organized crime and strengthening criminal justice. Attention was devoted to the question of human trafficking, culminating in the adoption and launch of the UN Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons. The General Assembly also considered the issue of water in a high-level interactive dialogue.
The Open-ended Working Group explored further ways of implementing the outcome document of the 2009 UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development. I hope this continuing important work will lead to concrete decisions and measures to address the negative effects of the global financial crisis.
Revitalizing the General Assembly has been a significant area of activity in the sixty-fourth session. In my view, the General Assembly is progressively being reinvigorated. It has a diverse, all-encompassing agenda. It is a more vibrant body which is active throughout the year with formal and informal meetings and other processes. Investing in its continued revitalization is clearly in the interest of all. I would urge the entire membership to match the expressions of their support with concrete actions to ensure that the objectives are met.
In particular, I would encourage the membership to ensure the respect for and implementation of the resolutions of the Assembly. We should devote particular attention to this matter if we are to stem the erosion of the Assembly's authority.
It is also important that the Assembly plays a meaningful role in the process of selection and appointment of the UN Secretary-General. Such a role would only enhance the effectiveness of the organization and further empower the Secretary-General.
Member States have repeatedly reiterated the importance of strengthening the role and leadership of the President of the Assembly. I also presented my views on how to strengthen the institutional memory of my Office, as requested by resolution 63/309. Given the broad agenda and increasing workload of the Assembly, it is imperative that the Office of the President is adequately equipped and resourced to assist the President to carry out his or her work in an effective and efficient manner. I hope that those recommendations including the review of the budget allocation of the Office will be followed-up.
Also in the context of UN reform, under active consideration has been the reform of the Security Council. Past experience shows that this issue needs to be handled with care and objectivity. I am glad that we proceeded in a cooperative and consensual manner, building on previous progress. The sixty-fourth session saw the continuation of intergovernmental negotiations. For the first time, positions and proposals of Member States and groups, submitted in writing, have been put together in a paper. Despite this progress, the substantive positions remain far apart. I would urge Member States to continue to build consensus through the negotiations, and to find a genuine compromise acceptable to all, especially the developing countries including the African region.
During this session, the consensus reached on system-wide coherence was a good example of the General Assembly delivering when there is the political will to negotiate and reach agreement. The establishment of the UN Women was an historic achievement that will hopefully consolidate and strengthen the efforts for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
This year our planet has wreaked devastation and tragic losses across a number of countries. Indeed, the General Assembly responded to these crises in a rapid and timely manner. A special plenary meeting of the General Assembly held in August considered the humanitarian emergency resulting from the floods in Pakistan. This meeting was widely appreciated, and its important outcome demonstrated the timely support and solidarity of the international community, which was an excellent confirmation of the extraordinary convening power of the General Assembly. In January, the high-level emergency meeting helped to mobilize support for Haiti. These meetings demonstrated the continuing relevance of the UN as a major convening world body. In this respect, I believe the General Assembly can and should play a more active and pronounced role in support of efforts to reach an early, fair and sustainable deal on climate change.
I am particularly satisfied with our efforts to enhance coordination at various levels here at the United Nations. I enjoyed excellent rapport with the Secretary-General. This mutual support and understanding was very helpful in addressing many issues and advancing various objectives. Also during this session, we devoted special attention to cooperation and coordination among the principal organs. I had regular contacts with the Presidents of the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council. Particularly with regard to the latter, the meetings with the monthly Presidents of the Council were institutionalized and I informed the Member States of these discussions through letters. This practice has received positive feedback and appreciation of Member States. This has enhanced cooperation between the Security Council and the General Assembly while adding to the transparency of these interactions. I am grateful to the successive Presidents of the Security Council for their support and cooperation, which made this a collective effort in the interest of the entire membership.
Reflecting on my tenure as President of the General Assembly, I consider there are three essential elements for the successful and effective conduct of the Assembly's work: support, coordination and innovation. I would therefore like to reiterate my thanks for the support extended to me and my office; to commend all of you for the coordinated manner in which you have approached the Assembly's deliberations this year; and to implore that we continue to be innovative and build consensus in our future efforts. Let me conclude by wishing all the success to H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss, President of the sixty-fifth session.Thank you.