|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser
The General Assembly’s incoming President, in his first Headquarters press conference this afternoon, said the sixty-sixth session would focus on the priority theme of mediation.
“Preventive diplomacy is needed today,” said Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser of Qatar, following his opening of the session in the Assembly Hall, where he had underlined the urgency for revitalized United Nations action in the face of global turmoil. (See Press Releases GA/11134 and BIO/4314.)
Outlining a four-pillared approach to the session’s work, he stressed that his presidency would focus on the peaceful settlement of disputes, organizational reform, improving disaster prevention and response, and sustainable development and global prosperity. The first focus area — the peaceful settlement of disputes — would form the heart of the overarching mediation theme, he noted.
He highlighted the busy agenda encompassed by the three high-level meetings to be held next week, as the Assembly’s annual general debate got under way. Those would spotlight the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, address desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. He would co-chair the Secretary-General’s side-event on counter-terrorism scheduled for Monday, 19 September.
Fielding several questions related to the Palestinians’ anticipated bid for statehood, he said he had not yet received such a request and pointed out that very serious negotiations regarding that possibility were ongoing in Cairo. While everyone knew the two available options for such recognition by the United Nations — either via the Security Council or the General Assembly — he could not predict which path the Palestinians might ultimately choose.
“They haven’t yet approached the United Nations,” he said. “When they are coming, we don’t know. Which way they are going, no idea,” he added.
Asked if he envisioned action during the Assembly’s general debate on the issue, he expressed doubt that that would happen given the expected presence of more than 85 Heads of State and Government and constraints imposed by the body’s procedural rules. He added that a draft resolution did not even exist at this point and that extensive negotiations on such a text would commence once the Palestinians decided their course of action.
Deflecting several questions directed to him in his national and personal capacity on the Palestinian issue — including whether the Arabs would be willing to make up for any potential loss of aid to the Palestinians by the United States as a result of such a bid — he underscored his position as the President of a body of 193 Member States. For his part, he believed there were no secrets at the United Nations and any text would be seen when it was done.
To a query on his possible intentions to hold a high-level meeting for the Arabs and Israelis and any other parties in the Middle East, he said there were presently no such plans. He added that his selection of mediation for the theme of the general debate was intended to foster a more active role by all United Nations bodies in the broader context of the conflict prevention and dispute resolution.
Asked about the current status of Libya’s credentials, he said that the Transitional National Council had sent a letter to the Secretary-General asking him to forward its request to represent the Libyan people to the General Assembly. Currently, the seat belonged to the old regime, he added.
Once the Transitional National Council’s request came to him, he would, he said, forward it to the Credentials Committee, which had just been formed during the Assembly’s first meeting of sixty-sixth session. He noted that all members of the Credentials Committee recognized the Transitional National Council, and added that any future vote in the Assembly on the credential request would require a simple majority.
Responding to a question on how he would encourage movement towards long-delayed reform in the Security Council, he said it was not simply a question of negotiations, but of the goodwill of Governments and their desire for real reform. To a follow-up query about the possible emergence of a consensus among the five permanent members of the Security Council, he recalled their positions on reform and noted the need to identify consensus among major and regional groups, such as the African Union.
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