12 September 2017
Seventy-second Session, 1st Meeting (PM)

Help People Striving for Peace, Decent Life, New General Assembly President Tells Member States, as He Opens Seventy-second Session

Secretary-General Cites Threats of Inequality, Irregular Migration, Cyberattacks

Commencing the seventy-second session of the General Assembly today, President Miroslav Lajčák said his tenure would be a “year of firsts” and called upon Member States to come together to help people striving for peace and a decent life.

Addressing the Assembly for the first time in his new capacity, President Lajčák (Slovakia) said the session would see the negotiation of the first intergovernmental compact on migration and the signing of the first agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons.

It would also be a year of follow-up in regards to maintaining the momentum in implementing and financing the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring continued work on the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said.

“We must follow our commitments from yesterday with actions now,” Mr. Lajčák stressed, warning against relegating reports, events and resolutions of the past to United Nations archives.

He said United Nations reform was critical as the Organization today looked very different from that which was established in 1945.  The United Nations had evolved over the years, and much of that change was seen through the Assembly’s revitalization process.  The organ must continue to contribute a fresh outlook.

He went on to say that the work of the United Nations could often be complex and recalled that the Organization was created, first and foremost, for the people.  “The people who need the United Nations the most are not sitting in this Hall today,” he added.

Hence, it would be impossible to choose one priority for the United Nations to focus on this year, he said, adding that most Member States did not have large representations in New York.  Some of them, particularly smaller States, struggled to stay on top of the busy calendar.  It was critical therefore to streamline the agenda.  He would remain committed to transparency, he said, stressing the importance of treating every speaker with dignity.

Welcoming the President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted that the world today faced serious threats; from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to global terrorism, from climate change to inequality.  He called attention to the challenges posed by irregular migration, and the threat of cyberattacks.  People were rightly demanding change, which was the basis of the reform proposals that were under consideration.

The United Nations must do more to support Member States and produce better results for the people it served, he continued.  Further, more must be done to empower women and girls, and he called for more female candidates to fill vacancies within the Organization, as gender parity would improve outcomes at the United Nations.

In other business, the Assembly took note of a letter from the Secretary-General (document A/72/380) informing the Assembly President that four Member States were in arrears in respect of their financial contributions to the Organization under Article 19 of the Charter.  Article 19 states that a Member State in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions will have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of those arrears exceeds the amount of the contributions due from the preceding two years.

The Assembly also decided that its Credentials Committee would comprise Cabo Verde, China, Dominica, Indonesia, Ireland, Russian Federation, Uganda, Uruguay and the United States.

Assembly members then authorized the following subsidiary organs of the General Assembly to meet at United Nations Headquarters during the session:  Committee on Relations with the Host Country, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Executive Board of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Independent Audit Advisory Committee and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (document A/72/376).

For information media. Not an official record.