14 June 2013

General Assembly Elects John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda as President of Sixty-eighth Session; Also Names 21 Vice-Presidents

14 June 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly


87th & 88th Meetings (AM)

General Assembly Elects John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda as President

of Sixty-eighth Session; Also Names 21 Vice-Presidents


Mr. Ashe, Setting Stage for Ambitious Post-2015 Development Agenda, Urges

Member States to Be Bold, Collaborative, ‘Forge Ahead with Dogged Determination’

The General Assembly today elected by acclamation John William Ashe, the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, as President of its sixty-eighth session.

Also elected were 21 Vice-Presidents of the Assembly plenary.  The election of Chairs and other Bureau members of the Assembly’s six Main Committees was postponed to a later date.

Following his election, the incoming President said that no undertaking, since the Organization’s founding 68 years ago, had been more fundamental than addressing the relationship “between us human beings and this planet we inhabit”.  In eighteen months, the post-2015 development agenda, one of the United Nations’ most ambitious projects, would be launched.  If “we are to rise to the task”, he said, the General Assembly must to be equally as bold, ambitious and collaborative.

“Failure is not an option,” he stated.  Highlighting the goals of overcoming poverty and ensuring sustainable development, he emphasized that renewed partnerships were paramount in integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.  The post-2015 development agenda must represent the “evolution in the thinking of the international community”.

Announcing the sixty-eighth session’s theme, “Post-2015 Development Agenda:  Setting the Stage!” Mr. Ashe called on Member States to “forge ahead with dogged determination”.  Three high-level events on the agenda would be held to discuss contributions of women, youth, and civil society; human rights and the rule of law; and South-South and Triangular Cooperation.  In addition, three thematic debates would take place on the role of partnerships; ensuring stable and peaceful societies; and water, sanitation and sustainable energy in the development agenda.  “We cannot afford to be indifferent and immune to the changing world around us” and “stand idly while millions struggle or merely settle for surviving where there are opportunities for all to thrive”, he said.

Offering his congratulations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Mr. Ashe’s “impressive experience”, which included co-Chairmanship of the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the Rio+20 Conference, Chairmanship of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and Group of 77, as well as service on the governing bodies of major United Nations environmental agreements.  The new President not only shared the Secretary-General’s passion for sustainable development and his concern about climate change, but was a trusted partner with personal integrity, the latter most important in diplomacy “where one’s word is the most valuable currency.”

Mr. Ashe’s strong presence was akin to a “force field”, Mr. Ban continued, describing how delegates would gravitate towards the Ambassador to seek a consensus.  He had been the “go-to person” when discussions had broken down, including the 2002 Summit for Social Development, and the Rio+20 negotiations.  The Secretary-General looked forward to the new President presiding over the upcoming session “when we push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and begin shaping our global vision for the post-2015 future.”

Vuk Jeremić (Serbia), President of the sixty-seventh session, also congratulated Mr. Ashe, noting his 25 years of representing Antigua and Barbuda at the United Nations, as well as his leadership in 40 organizations.  It was precisely for those reasons that Mr. Ashe would be successful at setting the stage for the post-2015 development agenda, and encouraging conclusions on various Rio+20 documents.

Also taking the floor to congratulate the President-elect on behalf of their respective regional groups were the representatives of Djibouti (African States), Sri Lanka (Asia-Pacific States), Trinidad and Tobago (Latin American and Caribbean States), Ireland (Western European and Other States), Hungary (Eastern European States) and the United States (on behalf of the host country).

Then, according to tradition, the Secretary-General drew lots to determine which delegation would occupy the first seat in the General Assembly Hall during the next session.  Croatia was picked for that seat and would be followed in English alphabetical order by all other countries, with the same order observed in the Main Committees.

Election of Committee Officers

The elections of Main Committee Chairs and bureaus were postponed to a later date, to be announced, due to the need for further consultations among the regional groups regarding Chairs’ candidatures. 

Election of Vice-Presidents

Mr. Jeremić noted that rule 30 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly stated that “the Vice-Presidents shall be elected after the election of the Chairmen of the six Main Committees referred to in rule 98, in such a way as to ensure the representative character of the General Committee.”  However, as the Chairpersons’ elections would conform to annex II of resolution 48/264 of 29 July 1994, they would not have an impact on the geographical distribution of the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly and the representative character of the General Committee.

The Vice-Presidents for the sixty-eighth session will be:  Botswana. Cameroon, Guinea, South Sudan, Togo and Tunisia from the African States; Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistanfrom the Asian States; Romania from the Eastern European States; Chile and Guatemala from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Monaco and Spain from the Western European and Other States.  The five permanent members of the Security Council ( China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) also serve as Vice-Presidents.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.