New York

14 June 2013

Secretary-General's remarks on the Election of H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe as President of the Sixty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly

I am very happy to be here today.

I offer my warmest congratulations to Ambassador John W. Ashe on his election as President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly.

We have worked together on a number of important issues over the years. He shares my passion for sustainable development – and my concern about the problem of climate change. He demonstrated his commitment by serving on the governing bodies of major UN environmental agreements. I am especially grateful for his service as Co-chair of the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the Rio+20 Conference held one year ago.

Ambassador Ashe also gained valuable experience as Chairman of the Fifth Committee. This is one of the toughest jobs at the United Nations – and it prepares you to work long hours.

As Chairman of the Group of 77 in New York, Ambassador Ashe led an influential and diverse coalition of States.

Representing Antigua and Barbuda, he can help the Assembly make an important contribution to next year’s International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Ambassador Ashe has more than impressive experience and educational credentials. Above all, our new General Assembly President is a trusted partner with personal integrity. This is essential in the world of diplomacy, where one’s word is the most valuable currency.

He has a very strong presence. Some even call it a “force field.” We see this most clearly when diplomats gravitate toward Ambassador Ashe to seek a consensus. He is known as the go-to person when discussions break down. This happened in 2002 when he led negotiations on contentious issues at the World Summit on Sustainable Development … and, more recently, when he co-chaired Rio+20 negotiations.

Ambassador Ashe has a quiet confidence. His approach is gentle, but direct. It works. He is always ready to engage with colleagues for the greater goals of helping the United Nations to transform our world.

He will preside over an important session, when we push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and begin shaping our global vision for the post-2015 future.

As you may know, I served as Chef de Cabinet for the President of the General Assembly in 2001 and 2002, and my Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Jan Eliasson, was himself an Assembly President. Our administration fully appreciates the value of the General Assembly. We are absolutely committed to supporting you.

I thank President Jeremic for presiding over such a dynamic and constructive session.

I look forward to working with President-elect Ashe to realize our common goals.

Let us make the most of our partnership in the year to come.

Thank you.