New York, 27 August 2018 – The President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, attended the Political Symposium of the European Forum Alpbach 2018 on 25 and 26 August. On the margins of the Forum, he participated in a high-level retreat organized by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Austria entitled “The resilience of values: Reconciling diversity and universality”.

Addressing the retreat on the topic of “A Shrinking Universe? – Universality of rights 70 years after the Declaration of Human Rights”, the President gave his assessment of the state of play on human rights in international affairs. He stated that “Human rights are the basic recognition of equality” but and that they are not universal because everyone enjoys them, they are universal, because they stem from shared basic human needs.  President Lajčák added that although the world has changed a lot since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is crucial to humanity.  He ended his intervention with calling on participants to use the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration to start a “new dialogue on human rights”

In Alpbach, the Assembly President also spoke at a session on “The Resilience of Values: the role of national and multilateral institutions in strengthening the international system” as a keynote speaker. The President’s statement addressed the interdependent relationship between national and international institutions, the General Assembly as primary multilateral institution, and the need for strong international system. He ended by saying that a strong international system is not just desirable – it is necessary, not only for progress, but also for survival. “

While in Austria, the President also met with H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and H.E. Mr. Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria, who are also the founders of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. During that meeting, they discussed current global affairs and the work of the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Lajčák commended the two on the work of the Bank Ki-moon Centre.

With Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Mr. Lajčák spoke about the work of the international judicial institutions and about global challenges to multilateralism.

The President returned to New York on 26 August.


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