Press Conference by President of Sixty-Fourth General Assembly Session

12 June 2009

Press Conference by President of Sixty-Fourth General Assembly Session

12 June 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference by president of sixty-fourth General Assembly session

General Assembly President-elect Ali Abdussalam Treki ( Libya) pledged this afternoon that the priorities of his tenure would be the war on poverty in Africa, United Nations reform, disarmament, and implementation of United Nations resolutions, including those concerning the question of Palestine.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference, he also stressed that his election to the Assembly Presidency would not conflict with his country’s role as the current Chair of the African Union and a member of the Security Council, nor would he overstep the bounds of the Presidency in addressing Middle East concerns and other international issues.

“There is no doubt that certain areas should acquire more importance and priority, such as the crises in Africa, the economic disparity between the North and the South, the issue of the Occupied [Palestinian] Territory, etc.,” he said.  “That, of course, does not mean that we’re going to take one side against the other, absolutely not,” he stressed.

“We want to be fair, just and even-handed in dealing with all the issues before the United Nations,” said Mr. Treki, who was elected by acclamation on Wednesday.  The President-elect is Libya’s Minister for African Union Affairs, a three-time Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a former Foreign Minister.  This afternoon, he promised to do his best to make the Assembly more valuable and credible in the global arena.

Stressing that “no country is an island”, he pledged to work with the Organization’s 192 Member States, specialized agencies and other entities to close the widening gap between rich and poor, and to ensure the right to education, health care, food and fundamental freedoms ‑‑ which were essential for international peace and security.  That would require greater efforts and funding.

Concerning United Nations reform, he said the Organization’s resolutions should be more binding and the five permanent members of the Security Council should refrain from using their veto power as much as possible.  Reform must also address complaints by some delegations about the large number of often repetitive Assembly resolutions on the question of Palestine.  The real issue was the failure to implement those resolutions and ensure legitimate Palestinian rights.  The Assembly, which adopted the 1948 resolution creating the State of Israel, and the Organization as a whole must play a role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Turning to disarmament he recalled the horrors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, saying he would continue Libya’s efforts to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction and sharply criticizing the major Powers pushing for the disarmament of Iran and other countries while failing to lead by example.  They had also failed to insist that Israel, also a major weapons producer and holder, do the same.  “I believe the issue should not be restricted to one case.  There are United Nations resolutions on declaring the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Who should we start with, a country that actually possesses nuclear weapons or one that is only attempting to acquire them?”

He said his country was a neutral player, with no interest in aligning with countries or groups of countries that had certain conflicts with Iran.  “We want to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons but through the regular programmes that everybody participates in.”  Iran had good relations with Libya and other Arab nations, and the results of today’s Iranian presidential election must be respected.

Regarding the Assembly’s role in promoting democracy and human rights in Myanmar, the President-elect said he would meet this afternoon with Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, who had promised a full report on his efforts in that country.  The Assembly Presidency would continue to work with Mr. Gambari, and stressed the role of Myanmar’s neighbours in doing their part as well.

Asked about the Assembly’s role in addressing the plight of thousands of internally displaced Sri Lankans trapped in camps and the Security Council’s recent decision not to take up that issue, he said it was important for the island nation’s regional neighbours to be aware of the problem and inform the Council.  The Council should be able to act, should a decision be necessary.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.