67th DPI – NGO Conference, “We the Peoples… Together Finding Global Solutions for Global Problems”

– As delivered –

Statement delivered H.E. Mrs. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Vice President of the General Assembly and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations, on behalf of H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at 67th DPI – NGO Conference, “We the Peoples… Together Finding Global Solutions for Global Problems”



Under-Secretary-General Smale,

Madam Chair,


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to start, today, by relaying the regrets of the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák.

The President’s travel schedule did not permit him to attend this crucial meeting. And so, I am honoured to read this statement on his behalf.

In doing so, I will make two main points.

The first is about people.

“We, the peoples”.

These are the first words of the United Nations Charter. And they are very clear. They do not leave room for any questions on who the real stakeholdersof this Organisation are.

Because the United Nations is here, first and foremost, for people.

And not just certain kinds of people, like diplomats or dignitaries. But people of all ages – from all regions, countries and walks of life.

That is why the needs of people on the ground must guide the United Nations’ work – whether it is taking place from a field office or this very building.

We need to hear the stories of real people… We need to listen to their ideas… And we need to learn from their everyday realities.

One way of doing that is through the inclusion of civil society representatives. They have their fingers on the pulse. They know more about what does and does not work, on the ground. And they can speak for the people who do not have a platform, in rooms like this one.

The added value of civil society participation has been seen very clearly. NGOs, academics and grassroots activists played a crucial role in the process to develop the Global Compact for Migration – sharing research, informationand stories from the ground. And they have helped to drive other areas of the UN’s work – from global health to Sustainable Development.

So, the truth is that civil society participation is not an objective. It is notsomething we should “work towards” or “aim for”. Instead, it is a necessity.

Without it, we will fail. Not just in our work – but also in meeting thecommitments made through the UN’s Charter.

If we want to press for global solutions to global problems, if we want to make our multilateral system even stronger, then we need civil society to speak up on behalf of the United Nations, and on behalf of multilateralism.


President of the UN General Assembly

My second point today is about multilateralism.

As the concept note for this event points out, global challenges need global solutions. And, we are facing many of these challenges today – frominternational terrorism and the threat of nuclear war, to climate change and growing global inequalities.

No one country can solve any of these problems alone. Multilateralism is the only way.

There are countless multilateral organisations around the world, doing valuable work. But none are as representative as the UN General Assembly.

The Assembly can deal with any issue on the global agenda. It has one of themost legitimate voices in the world. It gives every country – no matter its power or size –the same standing.

And, civil society is crucial to its work and its future.

That is why, with the support of DPI, the first-ever “one-on-one” briefing between the President of the General Assembly and civil society representatives took place in the early days of this session.

We need to remember: it is not just about ensuring that civil society can participate in the work of the United Nations. That is crucial. But we must also remember the influence civil society actors have, among their owncommunities and networks.

If we want to press for global solutions to global problems… if we want to make our multilateral system even stronger…then we need civil society tospeak up on behalf of the United Nations, and on behalf of multilateralism. But how can they do this, if they are not included?

Finally, sincere thanks must go to the UN’s Department of Public Informationand the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, for organising today’s event.

It is important for multilateralism.

It is important for civil society.

And, most of all, it is important for people.

Thank you.