Meeting with G77 + China
– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the Meeting with Group of 77 + China
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Dear Colleagues,
I will start by thanking His Excellency, Mr. Diego Morejon Pazmino, the current Chair of the Group of 77. I want to also congratulate Egypt on its recent election as the Group’s incoming Chair. Further thanks must go to the Executive Secretary of the G77 and China, for its diligent work.
It goes without saying that the Group of 77 plays a key role in the work of the United Nations. Together, you make up the largest and most diverse regional group. Among your members are Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries, and Small Island and African states, as well as Middle-Income Countries. This diversity of membership has not, however, held you back from reaching common positions, or from speaking with one, unified voice. This is a powerful example of the strength that can come from the diversity we often find here, at the United Nations.
It was an honor to address your ministers in September, and I am glad to be back, to engage with you all today. The G77 is an indispensable partner to the General Assembly. This is a partnership which I am confident will grow stronger over the coming Session.
I would like to use this meeting for two purposes. First, to outline my priorities for the 72nd Session. And second, to get your reactions. I really want to emphasize this point, namely, that I see this meeting as an interactive discussion around issues you want to stress.
I welcome, and invite, your input. I would like to hear about your objectives and concerns for the upcoming session. And I will answer any questions you might have, honestly. I want us to start as we mean to go on: through frank, open and transparent engagement.
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
Turning to my priorities: peace and prevention, together, make up the first one. I believe that a lot more needs to be done before the United Nations can evolve beyond its current model of conflict response, by fulfilling the role it should have as a global leader in conflict prevention. I do believe that we shall pay more attention to what the UN should do before conflict erupts. We will take a major step in the right direction in April 2018, when I will convene a high-level event on Sustaining Peace. This event will take stock of what we have done to implement the Sustaining Peace resolutions so far. Importantly, it will also give us ideas and recommendations on how we can evolve at a much faster pace. Although my mandate to convene this event was inherited from a predecessor, I intend to ensure that this initiative is owned by the members of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly. I look forward to engaging with G77 members closely in the run-up to the event. I also hope we will be welcoming many of your Ministers to New York in April!
A second priority is migration. I know that I do not need to stress to you the global nature of this phenomenon. Many G77 member states are origin, transit or destination countries. You have much experience to share. And it can demonstrate both the positive contribution of migration to societies, as well as the significant challenges posed by irregular flows.
As you know, we have a daunting task ahead, as we prepare to adopt a Global Compact on Migration. I’m glad to say that we are making progress. Last week I chaired the second multi-stakeholder hearing in Geneva. I listened to the perspectives of participants from civil society, academia and the private sector. I also addressed the sixth and last thematic session, which focused on decent work and labor mobility. It was clear, from both sessions, that momentum is building.
But we are not there. It will take a lot to get to where we want to be.
I want to point out that, in making the decision to adopt a Global Compact, we also posed a question: Can the United Nations adapt and respond to the most urgent challenges facing today’s world? I believe that, yes, it can. However, we need to show this through our actions in September. And we won’t be able to do this without your voices, your ideas, your experiences, and your active engagement.
As I said in front of the General Assembly last month, I believe that those of us who are here, in New York, have a duty to speak out for the people those who cannot represent themselves in these halls or conference rooms. The G77 has taken this duty seriously.
Another major objective for my Presidency is to maintain the momentum created by my predecessors in the area of Sustainable Development. This means keeping the spotlight on the urgent need to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, as well as other relevant frameworks.
You are helping in this task. I want to commend the members of the G77 that have presented their Voluntary National Reviews during the 2016 and 2017 high-level political forums. With more than 100 countries set to present their reviews by next year, we are building up to the first major stock take of our SDG implementation in 2019. The Second UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, which will be hosted by Argentina in 2019, will also present a valuable opportunity for the G77 to help to keep up this momentum.
There is no doubt that we have seen great progress in Sustainable Development over recent years. But we cannot yet say that every person is living, or has the opportunity to live, a decent life, free from poverty, on a sustainable planet. Until we can, we have a lot more work to do. We need more global partnerships, and innovative and smart platforms. These must involve governments, but also donors, international organizations and agencies, the private sector, and philanthropic entities.
As you know, there is no hierarchy when it comes to the SDGs. One goal is as important as the next. However, during the 72nd Session I will place particular focus on the following three areas:
1/ Water. In March 2018, I will launch the already-mandated International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development. This will help us to raise the profile of water-related goals and targets.
2/ Financing for Development. We must ensure that the commitments which have already been made are met. We must also attract new ones, including from non-traditional actors.
3/ Youth. We need to explore new avenues for youth participation, including through education, skills-building and job creation. This is necessary – not only for the implementation of the SDGs but also to mobilize young generations in preventing conflict and radicalization.
In addition, we need to continue our uphill battle against climate change. Hurricane Irma and other natural disasters demonstrate how this phenomenon is making already-volatile forces of nature even worse. The need to rally around the Paris Agreement has never been stronger. I am confident that this will be a major feature of COP23, which is to be chaired by fellow G77 member, Fiji.
Another, important priority of mine is to ensure that the work of the General Assembly contributes to a United Nations which is strong, inclusive, transparent, and fit for its very important purpose.
As we all know, the Secretary-General has outlined his proposed reforms in the areas of development, peace and security, and management. This reform process must be owned by all Member States, and I am confident that the Group of 77 will be actively engaged.
In addition to reforms, the UN needs adequate funding to carry out mandates already set by Member States. The G77 has been working actively within the Fifth Committee for many years. Let’s ensure that our work will be done in time.
I spoke earlier about how our work in implementing the SDGs is far from over. If we are to pick up the pace, we must ensure that the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as their subsidiary bodies, can act as both agents and reviewers of implementation. Their agendas must be aligned to the 2030 Agenda. I will engage with many of you in exploring how best to take this alignment process forward. On a related note, I intend to nominate the co-facilitators for the ECOSOC review process over the coming days.
Finally, I will focus my attention on other important areas of work, including the General Assembly Revitalization and Security Council Reform processes, as well the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review. My Team and I will be actively engaged in organizing events and thematic debates, including the Sand and Dust Storm thematic discussion, the high-level meeting to fight tuberculosis, and the review of progress achieved in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. These are all mandated events. I will also be prioritizing activities by the General Assembly aimed at advancing the empowerment of women and girls, and promoting human rights.
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
As I said in front of the General Assembly last month, I believe that those of us who are here, in New York, have a duty to speak out for the people those who cannot represent themselves in these halls or conference rooms. The G77 has taken this duty seriously. And I am very grateful for that. You have worked to highlight the interests of poor and marginalized people from the various countries you represent.
I look forward to closer partnership, as we work towards strengthening the UN’s role in responding to global challenges, and bringing help to the people who need it the most.
Thank you very much.