Acceptance remarks by President-elect for the 72nd Session of UNGA

Acceptance remarks by President-elect for the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia

31 May 2017


PGA 72 electionYour Excellency, Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly,
Your Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

First of all, thank you very much …
I am truly delighted to be elected as President of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

It is my greatest honor to have earned your support. I do feel truly privileged to have the opportunity to serve you throughout the next session.

I have been a professional diplomat all my life serving with passion and commitment both Slovakia and the international community. I have fostered my belief in respect, honesty and dignity, rules, dialogue and search for compromise.

Throughout my career I was fortunate to meet many of you in person. Thus earning your trust today means not only professional, but also personal responsibility.

It is the first time Slovakia has been entrusted with this role. I am very grateful for the support at home – by the President, the Government, and the people. My country has always been strongly committed to multilateralism with the UN at the center of it. And over the years, we have contributed to a wide range of UN activities – through the work in the main UN organs, participation in peacekeeping operations or delivery of humanitarian or development aid.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During my tenure, I want to pay due attention to all three UN pillars. And I intend to work on following six priorities, not necessarily in their order:

First of all, I want to draw attention of member states to people. That is why I suggest to focus on people – in strive for peace and decent life for all on a sustainable planet.

I do believe we can do more to bring the UN closer to the world’s citizens. Nations around the globe continue to have high hopes of the UN. It is a key task for the General Assembly as the most representative organ to step up its efforts. It should make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people.

Secondly, I wish to highlight the importance of prevention and mediation in sustaining peace. I share this priority with Secretary-General Guterres as I have always been a strong proponent of preventive diplomacy. Past efforts and existing UN opportunities on sustaining peace will be addressed at the already mandated high-level meeting in April 2018.

My next priority will be migration. The consultative process of the Global Compact for Migration will shift into the intergovernmental negotiations. Migration is not a short-term seasonal and regional problem. It is a very complex global and generational issue that needs true world-wide attention.

I will also take a closer look at the Sustainable Development Goals and climate. We need to keep the political momentum. I will follow-up on work of President Thomson and support Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed in their efforts. More should be done to address inequalities and ways to help mainly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

In this regard I feel encouraged by commitments of member states as well as the current leadership of this esteemed body. Activities such as the next week’s conference on oceans go in the right direction, in terms of both substance and timing.

My fifth focus will be on human rights as an overarching principle guiding my work. There is no peace and development without respect for dignity and fundamental rights. Continued support to equality, including equal opportunities for genders will remain high in my activities.

The principle of an equal representation will be respected also in terms of composition of my team. In this regard I will continue the dialogue with you. I strongly wish to reach both gender and geographical balance in the office of the President of the General Assembly.

And number six – it is quality – especially in terms of mandated events. I will not bring any new initiatives that may put additional burden mainly for smaller states. I would rather like to see the agenda in clusters and streamlined with concrete results.
Mr. President, Secretary General, Excellencies,

The Presidency of the General Assembly is an increasingly demanding position. In preparing for my post, I consulted broadly with member states and other stakeholders.

It is our common goal to create a stronger UN able to better meet all the expectations. I will facilitate a constructive, informed and open interaction among member states and with you, Mr. Secretary-General. I stand ready to consult your reform initiatives in the area of peace and security, development and management.

In search for a deeper change of our organization, we must strengthen the trust between the UN and membership as well as the major groups. Many member states feel that we need tangible progress on the UN reform agenda and revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. I will do all I can to support this effort.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is vital to make further strides towards improving the efficiency and role of the General Assembly. I share the view that this is both a technical and political issue. By far, the most widely mentioned UN reform topic is the reform of the UN Security Council. There is a high degree of accord that the time is up to transform the Security Council into a 21 st century body. I intend to work closely and consult widely with you on how to push forward agreement our leaders made at the 2005 World Summit.

Mr. Secretary-General, Dear Antonio,

Let me thank you for being here with us today. It is not an easy time to be heading the world’s leading international organization. Your steadfast commitment in taking the UN mandate forward is very much appreciated and needed.

Mr. President, Dear Peter,

I wish to express my special gratitude to you for your outstanding cooperation, advice and guidance. You are a committed leader in many areas but especially on the promotion of implementation of the SDGs. Your dedication to strengthen the continuity and the institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly has been exceptional.

You and everyone on your team has been so helpful in getting ready for my presidency. Without your generosity and good will the transition would be much more complicated. And until September, let me assure you of my firm support to your on-going efforts.

Mr. President, Secretary General, Excellencies,

I wish to thank you once again for the opportunity to serve you. I will do my utmost to represent you to the best of my abilities. I look forward to collaborating closely with all of you very much focusing on pragmatic and practical issues. I pledge to represent each country in a fair and open manner in a positive working environment. And I want all member states regardless of size,power and affiliation to have a sense of belonging and equal relevance.


Thank you for your attention!

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