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PRESS CONFERENCE BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT ON WORK OF SIXTY-SECOND SESSION

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

15 November 2007

The world badly needed a new culture of international relations based on the principles of full respect for human rights, human security and protection of sustainable development, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim ( Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Against that backdrop, he offered his reflections on priority areas as he briefed correspondents on the work of the sixty-second Assembly session: climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals, counter-terrorism and United Nations reform. Indeed, the session had begun in “a spirit of good cooperation, good faith and constructive dialogue among Member States”, he declared.

Turning first to climate change, he said next month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, would be “decisive” in furthering negotiations on that issue, as would follow-up meetings next year in Poland and Denmark. At the same time, the Assembly would work to streamline activities among existing United Nations programmes and specialized agencies to support that process. A panel of high-level representatives from the business, academic and non-governmental sectors would be held on 11 and 12 February to discuss public-private partnerships and the division of labour among United Nations agencies. The discussion would include a thematic debate to review outcomes from the Bali Conference.

Following those events, the Assembly would organize a meeting with the United Nations Global Compact to look at the private sector’s role in finding solutions to climate change, and another with small island States to examine their specific disaster-prevention needs, the President said. The Assembly was also preparing a draft resolution, for adoption on 19 November, which would request the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the Organization’s climate change activities.

On financing for development, he said States would use the sixty-second session to carry out substantial preparations for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 28 to 30 November 2008. The Assembly had already held a two-day high-level debate on the issue, which had attracted the participation of more than 100 countries.

Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said that rather than a review of the targets, it was preferable to concentrate next year on Goals in the education, poverty eradication and health fields. In a general debate, States should work to define –- and invent -- additional measures to ensure realization of the Goals.

Regarding counter-terrorism, he said the Assembly was preparing for an early December debate on implementing the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy, with a review envisaged for next September. That debate would focus on how States could strengthen their solidarity.

On management reform, he stressed the importance of strengthening management in terms of accountability and mandate review. The Assembly had started a debate on mandate review and, in an effort to make it fruitful, had decided to establish principles implying that funding –- which would be released by restricting mandates and reducing their total number –- would be devoted to development projects. The Assembly had further decided that politically sensitive mandates would be reviewed carefully, with the aim of rationalizing the entire system, as expert assessments indicated that the Organization could reduce existing mandates by half. States must deal in a resolute way to reach such an ambitious goal and the Assembly debate offered “promising momentum” in that regard.

Turning to Security Council reform, he said the Assembly had held a frank and open-minded two-and-a-half-day dialogue on that issue, and he did not share the view that the 14-year process had been delayed, as everyone involved must be aware of its complexity. The debate had shown that States were prepared to agree on “negotiables” and, thus pave the way for intergovernmental negotiations. During the recent elections for non-permanent members, two States had withdrawn their candidacy in favour of two others, thereby avoiding an exhausting voting exercise. Such a constructive atmosphere “raised the bar of mutual trust”.

The President highlighted other priority events throughout the session: a joint event with the Inter-Parliamentary Union next week on reinforcing the rule of law in international relations; an 11-12 December high-level plenary meeting on children; a high-level HIV/AIDS meeting that would link to implementation of the Millennium Development Goals; and two additional thematic debates on human security and human trafficking.

Asked about follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society, he said there would be a follow-up, but he could not discuss the form it would take as that would pre-empt debate on the issue. However, top leadership from Google would participate in the upcoming climate change panel to discuss how technology could be used to address the phenomenon.

Responding to a question about Security Council reform and his appeal that States not take measures that would undermine progress, he said he had made that suggestion with “a positive background”, as progress could only come through dialogue and agreement and actions that were not in that spirit would be counterproductive. He had also advised States against trying, through hesitation, to slow or derail the process. The two extremes must be minimized to bring about a streamlined approach.

As for the perception of the Security Council as a tool for justifying war, he said it was not correct to state that Council or General Assembly resolutions were provoking war. Although resolutions were non-binding, they were part of how the United Nations exercised pressure on conflicting parties. It was necessary to take a balanced view of the Organization, given that Security Council resolution 1371 (2001) had helped stop conflict in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

While agreeing that the Council’s composition must change, he recalled that it had taken 18 years -- from 1945 to 1963 -- to increase the non-permanent membership from 11 to 15. The Council’s working methods were inseparable from its composition and one had no meaning without the other. However, it was important that the Council adjust its working methods so as to create a balance with the General Assembly.

In response to a question about resolutions condemning Israel, which kept the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and the Human Rights Council from addressing more urgent business, he said the newly established Council must be given a chance to function.

Pointing out that he had agreed, in accepting the Assembly presidency, to adhere to the principles of the United Nations Charter, he said it was especially important to deal with the situation in the Middle East without singling out any party.

Asked his opinion of the Secretary-General’s decision to extend a $250 millionnon-competitive contract to Lockheed Martin for work in Darfur, he said the role of the General Assembly President was not to evaluate the Secretary-General. The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) would debate that issue and he would be able to comment on the matter afterwards.

To whether an Alliance of Civilizations meeting was planned, he noted that the Assembly had recently held a two-day debate on intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Spain and Turkey were planning follow-up events and the Pope’s visit on 18 April would contribute to those efforts.

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For information media • not an official record



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