17 September 2019

Networked, Inclusive Multilateralism Can Help Overcome Challenges of Era, Says Secretary-General, Opening General Assembly Session

Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks to the opening of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, in New York today:

I am very pleased to be with you for the opening of the seventy-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly.  Let me begin by warmly congratulating Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria on his election as General Assembly President.

As Nigeria’s Permanent Representative here in New York, Mr. Bande brings years of United Nations experience to his role.  He also brings valuable insights into some of the pressing peace and security, human rights and sustainable development challenges facing this body, from the spread of violent extremism to the threat of the global climate crisis.

Mr. Bande, I commend the priorities you set in June.  Peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion are all central to the sustainable development agenda.  I also applaud your emphasis on human rights and gender parity, beginning here at the United Nations.

We have a busy year ahead of us, beginning with five critical summits on climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals, financing for development, universal health care and small island developing States.

In all these areas, multi-stakeholder engagement will be essential.  I welcome your commitment to partnerships, as well as your determination to strengthen the relationship between the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

Next year, under this seventy-fourth session, we will celebrate the seventy‑fifth anniversary of our Organization.

Today’s world is rapidly changing.  Our challenges are global and increasingly interlinked.

As we enter a decade of action on the Sustainable Development Goals, and as we ask for more urgency and ambition on climate change, with 2020 being a crucial year, we have to convince people that the United Nations is relevant to all and that multilateralism offers real solutions to global challenges.

People’s expectations of our Organization — especially the General Assembly and the Security Council — are profound.

One thing that particularly concerns me — and was echoed by Mr. Bande in June — is the trust deficit between nations.  Transparency, dialogue and greater understanding are essential to alleviating mistrust.

The General Assembly is a unique and indispensable forum where the world can come together to advance on sensitive and important issues.  It is vital that the world has strong and effective multilateral institutions and architecture, and that international relations are based on international law.

We are and we will remain an intergovernmental organization.  At the same time, we need forms of more intense cooperation with other international and regional organizations — a networked multilateralism — as well as closer contacts with businesses, civil society and other stakeholders — an inclusive multilateralism.

A networked and inclusive multilateralism will help us overcome the challenges of our current era.

As we open the seventy-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, let me wish all of you a busy and successful year as we work together to achieve our common goals of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.

For information media. Not an official record.