President of the United Nations General Assembly

H.E. Volkan Bozkir

Statement Summary

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, opening the high‑level meeting, acknowledged that without the continued commitment to multilateralism, “we would not be sitting here today”.  He congratulated Governments for their strong work to strengthen coordination and good governance towards the common future of both present and coming generations, thanking Qatar and Sweden, in particular, for their stewardship in facilitating negotiations for the Declaration to be adopted today.

When the founders established the United Nations, they did so in the smouldering wreckage of war, he recalled.  Noting that the Second World War demonstrated the need for a forum to harmonize the actions of nations, he said the founders recognized the equal importance of the three pillars — peace and security, development and human rights.  “One cannot advance without the other,” he assured.  “That is what the United Nations has been striving for 75 years.”  Recounting various achievements, he said the Organization has grown from 51 to 193 members, reflecting that countries gained their independence and committed to the Charter of the United Nations — as States.

He said diplomacy and the development of arms control regimes meanwhile prevented the cold war from turning into a nuclear conflict, while peacekeepers and special political missions helped to diffuse crises.  Electoral assistance has reinforced public trust in democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, set out — for the first time — fundamental human rights to be universally protected.  Throughout, the United Nations has worked tirelessly to protect these rights for all, and likewise shaped the norms for international development.  Recalling that the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000 to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women, he said that in the current Decade of Action, Member States recognize the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a coherent blueprint for a better world — an aspiration that has grown all the more pressing in the context of climate change and the current COVID‑19 pandemic.

“Multilateralism is not an option, but a necessity,” he insisted.  As countries build back better and greener for a more sustainable world, the United Nations must be at the centre of these efforts.  The world is changing dramatically and an upgraded United Nations must both adapt and stay relevant.  It must be inclusive and consult widely with regional and subnational organizations, non‑governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and parliamentarians.  He urged Member States to support the United Nations as it evolves into a more agile, accountable institution, maintaining its fitness for purpose and delivering “the world we want”.  There is no other organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact.  No other offers as much hope for a better future.  As the General Assembly enters its seventy‑fifth session, he assured world leaders that it is taking seriously the renewed call for global action.  “The United Nations is only as strong as its members and the commitment to its ideals.”  With that, he rallied Member States to mobilize resources, strengthen efforts and demonstrate unprecedented political will and leadership.  “The time for action is now,” he declared.