|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by General Assembly President on Cooperation with Other UN Organs
The sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly appeared to be off to a strong start as the 192-member body had adopted its agenda –- without reservations –- in less than an hour, newly installed Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki (Libya) said at Headquarters today.
“This is a good sign, really, for the work of this sixty-fourth session,” he said at a press conference where he gave an overview of his efforts to increase cooperation between the Assembly and other organs of the United Nations, and set the stage for taking up priority issues in the coming months. He thanked all Member States for their support and pledged to do his utmost for the success of the session.
Urging all to work together for the success of the Organization, Mr. Treki said he had held constructive talks with the Secretary-General and hoped to meet regularly with both the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. He had also met with the Food and Agriculture Organization, among other specialized agencies, to increase cooperation, and with regional groups.
Turning to recent international events, he condemned the terrorist suicide attack against African Union troops in Somalia, emphasizing, “This is really unacceptable. We in the United Nations recognize the legitimate Government of the President.” He added that, as an African and Assembly President, he would continue supporting the Transitional Federal Government, and expressed his condolences to those who had given their lives for Somalia and Africa as a whole.
Responding to questions about the Assembly’s priorities, he pointed out that he had already outlined his views in the Assembly. The main issues included meeting the challenges of peace and security, disarmament, human rights, the environment and climate change, extreme poverty, infectious diseases, the Millennium Development Goals, the question of Palestine, and the need to revitalize the United Nations, including the General Assembly and the Security Council. “We do hope that we will succeed at handling them properly and effectively,” he added.
Asked about the Secretary-General’s proposal to combine the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa with that of Small Island Developing States, he replied that he had held two meetings with the Small Island Developing States in order to understand their concerns. The grouping constituted almost half the United Nations membership and included several African nations, he said, adding that both groups required attention.
Calling for follow-up on the United Nations programme for Africa, he expressed hope that rich-country pledges would be realized, noting that, as Chair of the Council of Ministers for the region, he had not seen much forthcoming from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. “We are still waiting,” he said. At the same time, the Africa-European Union Ministerial Troika Meeting in Luxembourg had been fruitful, with the Union pledging $60 billion. Hopefully, others would do the same because Africa needed investment.
Asked whether the United States embargo against Cuba would appear on the Assembly’s agenda, he said the United Nations had passed a resolution on that matter. In his speech to the Assembly, he had stressed that sanctions were not a way to solve problems, and hoped for a new dialogue on Cuba. Plans on the part of the United States to reduce sanctions, and the endorsement by Latin American countries of normalized ties between the two countries were positive steps.
Responding to a question as to whether the Assembly would issue a statement on Honduras, the President noted that the Credentials Committee had not taken a decision on that matter, and the General Assembly would await its recommendation.
In response to a query about Security Council reform, and whether 2009 would see a move towards expansion, he clarified that he had referred to United Nations reform generally. The majority of countries favoured strengthening the General Assembly, which represented 192 nations. There was a unanimous position on the need for reform –- in principle –- but views differed on how and when it should happen.
He noted that the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan was a facilitator and, while he could not say that a decision would be reached this year or next, he said many ways to reform the Security Council were under discussion. “We should not look for political solutions,” he said, but those that would be accepted by all States.
Responding to a query about his role as Assembly President, he said there were principles on which all should agree. He condemned coups d’état in any country. Honduras had undergone a coup against a legitimate Government. In Africa, any country subject to such action would be expelled from the African Union. It had happened to Mauritania, Madagascar and Guinea in the last year. There were peaceful means to create change, including through elections.
Asked whether he would serve as a mediator in the Honduras situation, he said Latin American countries had already started that process, and if the regional group or the legitimate President asked him to take on such work, he would be happy to add his voice to others in the search for a peaceful solution. Having been part of the mediation in Mauritania, which had rejoined the African Union as a full member, he hoped to see the same for Honduras.
As for his management style, he said, “I will not be a copy of anyone.” He thanked outgoing General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, whom he had known for 25 years.
To a question as to whether he would push for a permanent Security Council seat for Africa, he replied that all members of that organ agreed that the continent must be represented, and the Chair of the African Group would raise that question in the General Assembly. The African Union’s position was clear: the region should be represented, but as for who would represent it, Africa would determine that, not the global community.
Asked whether the question of Georgia would be discussed in the sixty-fourth session, the President said the Assembly did not have such an item on its agenda. More broadly, he said the decision by the United States on missile defence was a very reasonable and wise one. It would help normalize relations between the Russian Federation and the West and it would be helpful to the world.
Asked about the 2008 decision to decriminalize homosexuality, he described the matter as “very sensitive” for many countries, adding that, as a Muslim, he did not favour such a decision. However, it was necessary to wait and see how the Assembly would react if the issue were raised.
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