I am pleased to join all of you as we mark the closing of the 68th Session of the General Assembly – and to do so in this beautifully, elegantly, renovated General Assembly Hall.
I thank all those who have been working tirelessly and the patience and endurance of Member States who have been supporting and waiting for this opening of the General Assembly. We will have a more formal opening on the 24th.
Before that, let me just say a personal observation vis-à-vis our distinguished President of the General Assembly. Mr. President, I think you should have at least the privilege of chairing for one day in this beautifully renovated General Assembly Hall. You often told me that you would regret to be the only President of the General Assembly in the history of the UN who would not be able to sit in this proper President’s chair. For the first time, and the last time, you are sitting in this very historic chair. I congratulate your leaving an important legacy as far as your presence is concerned. I thank you for your patience, Mr. President.
We are wrapping up a vital year of work and progress. I commend the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador John Ashe, for his leadership – and convey my deepest admiration for his vision and commitment.
Throughout his Presidency, he has led by example doing his utmost to ensure that the work of the General Assembly proceeds in a most effective and efficient and timely manner.
He is surely one of the most punctual Presidents of the General Assembly in United Nations history! And again, I thank you very much for leading by example.
I also want to extend my gratitude to the Vice Presidents, committee chairs and all those who were so instrumental in the successful work of this Assembly through such challenging times.
This has been an eventful year.
We started with a full agenda and consequential tasks: to help lay the foundations for success in 2015 on the Millennium Development Goals, the post-2015 development agenda, and a meaningful new climate agreement by the end of next year.
We also faced many global crises that left the Security Council paralyzed – and on which the General Assembly rose to act.
Mr. President, through it all, you demonstrated wise leadership in steering our global discussions towards constructive solutions.
You came to the United Nations from a small island with a big capacity to work with other countries. You used your training as an engineer to build consensus.
You also carried a longstanding commitment to sustainable development that you translated into results.
Your leadership as co-chair of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development paved a foundation for our deliberations of the sustainable development goals.
When the world lost one of its most inspiring leaders – President Nelson Mandela – this General Assembly came together to celebrate his life at a special meeting.
Thanks to the efforts and initiative of the President and the General Assembly, the United Nations will always honour and remember “Madiba” through the UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize.
Through your leadership, this General Assembly reached out to the world at large – even bringing questions sent through social media into thematic debates and high-level events.
Above all, I believe this session of the General Assembly has truly set the stage for the success of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – including through a number of important thematic debates and valuable high-level events.
Member States and civil society came together on the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing. And progress was fostered through the dialogues on the technology facilitation mechanism and the accountability framework.
I applaud all of this action. This will have a positive effect on our collective long-term future – as will your efforts to revitalize the work of the General Assembly to enhance responsiveness and better accommodate the needs and demands of Member States.
Once again, I thank all of you for your work during this 68th session.
At the same time, I look forward to the leadership of incoming President, His Excellency Mr. Sam Kutesa, to carry this work forward over the next year.
Thank you, Mr. President.