HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT MIROSLAV LAJČÁK
GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECLARES 3 JUNE AS WORLD BICYCLE DAY, ADOPTS 5 OTHER TEXTS
- The General Assembly plenary met this morning. It adopted five resolutions and one decision – all without a vote.
- First it considered the agenda item “Improving global road safety”. It adopted by consensus a biannual resolution, encouraging Member States to take steps towards achieving the voluntary global performance targets for road safety.
- The plenary then adopted four new resolutions and one new decision. One declared 3 June as World Bicycle Day. By that resolution, the Assembly encouraged stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development; strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people; promoting health; preventing disease; promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect; and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.
- The second new resolution concerned the International Association of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations. By that resolution, the Assembly authorized the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Association, from within existing resources, with facilities. It also called upon the Secretary-General to provide the Association with a separate web page on the United Nations web site.
- The third new resolution concerned cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. The fourth concerned the organization of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.
- There was also a new decision setting the theme of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, which will be held in Argentina next March. That theme is the “Role of South South cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: challenges and opportunities”.
ELECTION OF NEXT ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT TO TAKE PLACE ON 5 JUNE
- Asked for details regarding the election of the next President of the General Assembly, the Spokesperson said informal interactive dialogues with the candidates would be held in early May, and the election would take place on 5 June.
- Asked who the candidates were, the Spokesperson said they were the current Foreign Minister of Ecuador and the current Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations.
- In response to further questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that the President planned to meet tomorrow with the Permanent Representatives of Ecuador and Honduras, to discuss next steps.
72ND SESSION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY PROGRESSING WELL
- The Spokesperson was asked how the President felt the 72nd session was progressing now that he was halfway through his term, and whether he would brief the press on his midterm impressions.
- The Spokesperson replied that the President was happy with the progress so far. At the same time, it was difficult to speak of overall successes as many of the President’s major events – including on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, youth and financing of the Sustainable Development Goals – had not yet taken place.
- Regarding press engagement, the President was always open to speaking to the media. His next planned encounter would take place on 24 April at the media stakeout outside the General Assembly Hall – as part of his High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.
PRESIDENT’S FOCUS REMAINS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
- Asked why the President had delivered a speech in Slovakia in his capacity as Foreign Minister, the Spokesperson said it was well known that Mr. Lajčák, while exercising the functions of President of the General Assembly, had also kept the position of Foreign Minister of Slovakia. This was not the first time that a sitting Foreign Minister had simultaneously served as a General Assembly President.
- The Spokesperson said that the President had made it clear that, from the first to the last day of the 72nd session, there would be no conflict or confusion with regard to his roles, and he had made all necessary arrangements in that regard.
- The Spokesperson noted that, when in Slovakia, Mr. Lajčák exercised his domestic responsibilities, such as attending monthly Cabinet meetings. He added that Mr. Lajčák does not engage with foreign officials as Foreign Minister, whether inside or outside of Slovakia.
- The Spokesperson added that the President was succeeding in advancing the United Nations’ agenda while also maintaining unprecedented levels of transparency.
- Asked whether future Presidents of the General Assembly should wear two hats, the Spokesperson said that was up to future officials. What was important was that the General Assembly functioned well, and Mr. Lajčák was ensuring that this was happening.
TALKS HELD ON MAKING ASSEMBLY HALL MORE ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
- Asked why the General Assembly Hall needed structural “repairs” following its last renovation, the Spokesperson clarified that what had been discussed during a discussion on 9 April between the President, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and Secretariat officials, were structural “improvements” whose aim was to make the General Assembly Hall more accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Such improvements had not been finalized yet but could include ramps for wheelchairs and improved lighting for the visually impaired.
- Regarding funding for such improvements, it was decided at the discussion that there needed to be a long-term solution. Currently, it was voluntary for Member States to provide funds for such improvements.