14 September 2005
Expectations High for Anticipated Reforms to Organization, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson Says at Opening of Sixtieth Session
NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- General Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden) opened the sixtieth session of the 191-member body this evening, emphasizing that expectations were high concerning the reforms -- the most ambitious since the creation of the United Nations -- being considered for the Organization.
The new President, elected by the Assembly on 13 June, paid tribute to outgoing President Jean Ping (Gabon), and to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his report, "In Larger Freedom", in which the head of the Organization laid out a number of proposals for reforming the world body.
President Eliasson said the process of negotiation on an outcome document for the World Summit, set to begin tomorrow, had been intense and all-consuming. Once adopted by the Summit, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders in history, the document would serve as a strong basis for reform. It would then be time to start turning words into action. At the end of the Assembly's general debate, he would present an outline of the work ahead for the year, including measures to keep up the momentum of the reform process.
He said two realities had emerged during the negotiation process for the outcome document. One was the discovery that people expected much from the United Nations in the fulfilment of their ideals. The other was the admission of sombre realities. "The people we serve have expected much of us and we're not making enough progress on commitments already made, especially on development", the President stated.
The answer, he continued, was to renew the commitment to multilateralism and to "act now to get it right" because the realities facing the world were so complex and interlinked. The recent disaster in the Gulf Coast of the United States was a reminder, like the attack of "9/11", that no nation was immune from threats to its security in today's world.
Similarly, he went on, multilateral action was needed to tackle the silent tsunamis. It was unacceptable that a child died every three seconds somewhere in the world from starvation. The world must get better at predicting and preventing disasters and violence. It was time to stop saying "never again" and time to reform the Organization to make sure its integrity and accountability were of the highest calibre to address grave issues such as ending poverty, addressing climate change, fighting terrorism and protecting human rights. He stressed the need for transparency, civility and mutual respect, accompanied by good management and efficiency.
Recognizing the responsibility history had placed on them and the high expectations of the world's people, all delegates to the Summit and the session must move forward together. The world's poorest and most oppressed needed change. "Let us show them what we can do", he concluded.
Following the President's address, the Assembly appointed the nine members of the Credentials Committee for the session: Cameroon, China, Panama, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Russian Federation and United States.
It authorized seven bodies to hold meetings during its own plenary meetings during the main part of the sixtieth session: the Committee on Relations with the Host Country; the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA); the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Disarmament Commission; the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; and the Committee on Conferences.
The Assembly also invited the Secretary-General to present his annual report as the first item to be taken up after the Summit, prior to the opening of the general debate. In addition, it was decided that the Observers for the Holy See and Palestine would participate in the work of the sixtieth session as observers, with no further need for a precursory explanation prior to any intervention.
On the Summit, the Assembly recalled that the three-day event would be jointly presided over by the Heads of the States to which the outgoing and incoming Assembly Presidents belonged (Gabon and Sweden). The four round tables would be presided over by the Prime Minister of Australia, the President of Poland, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and the President of Nigeria.
The Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. tomorrow, 14 September, to begin its three-day World Summit.
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