Past Presidents

51st Session: Razali Ismail

Photo of Mr. Razali Ismail, President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 51st session. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Razali Ismail was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 51st session on 17 September 1996. At the time of his election, he was serving as Malaysia's ambassador to Cuba and its High Commissioner to Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Razali Ismail presided the General Assembly’s 51st session from 17 September 1996 to 15 September 1997.

Also on 17 September 1996, the General Assembly elected 21 Vice-Presidents for the 51st session:


Reform of the Security Council remained a "tantalizing prospect", but Member States first had to comprehend the universal aspirations for change in a United Nations mired in ways of governance that were less than democratic, the President of the General Assembly, Razali Ismail (Malaysia), said as he closed the Assembly's fifty-first session this morning. Unanimity on that politically loaded issue would never be possible, he added.

Reviewing an Assembly session that witnessed the swearing-in of a new Secretary-General and his launching of a two-phased reform proposal, President Razali said every aspect of the United Nations was at stake and a prize in the escalating debate between North and South, each side with conflicting claims on fundamental values and perspectives. That led to gridlock in virtually all aspects of reforming the Organization.

The most disappointing piece of unfinished business of the fifty-first session had been the continuing stalemate over payment of arrears and restoration of fiscal stability to the Organization, he said, stressing that "blind unilateralism will be the undoing of the United Nations".

Quick Links

Key Documents