– Check against delivery-

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at International Prayer Breakfast


Good morning to you all – excellencies, distinguished delegates, Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.

I would like to start by thanking you, Ambassador Bogyay, for your warm welcome. It was a pleasure to accept the invitation from you and Mr. Welborn to attend today’s event. It really is a treat to start the day off with such beautiful music.

Later today I will open the 72nd Session of the General Assembly. We will face enormous global challenges over the coming year. Conflicts are becoming more complex and interlinked. Dire humanitarian crises continue to exacerbate migration challenges. Climate change has made our planet’s future uncertain. Extreme poverty persists. Violent extremism seems to be growing. Human rights abuses are still happening – in many cases, with impunity.

Next week, delegations from all over the world will arrive in New York to speak at the General Debate. They will discuss the role the UN can play in finding ways to overcome these challenges. In doing so, we should remember that the UN’s focus must – first and foremost – be on people. The UN is here to help people as they strive for peace and a decent life, on a sustainable planet. In many ways, this is also what you, here today, are trying to do.

Throughout history, members of faith communities have dedicated themselves – often at great risk – to the cause of peace and social justice. They have also acted as outspoken advocates, calling for the equal distribution of wealth and the protection of human rights. They have provided crucial services, such as healthcare and education. And now, the church has even become active on the pressing issue of climate change.

Faith communities are the allies of the UN. Given the scale of the challenges in the year ahead, the UN will need all the help it can get! Events like this breakfast remind us of this alliance – and give us an opportunity to reinforce it.

Every community of faith is different. We have different ways of practising; we have different beliefs. But there is one thing in common – and that is hope. We are all bound by a belief that, even when the outlook is bleak, there is something better, and brighter to work towards.

This same hope must drive the work of the UN community. I ask for your help in ensuring that the 72nd Session is one with a focus on people and a sense of hope. Thank you.