Category Archives: UN General Assembly

UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Opening Session of High-Level plenary meeting to address Large movements of Refugees and Migrants-New York, 19 September 2016

CoverToday’s Summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility. More people than ever are on the move. Some flee war; others seek opportunity.
Refugees and migrants are not to be seen a burden; they offer great potential, if only we unlock it. We must place the human rights of all refugees and migrants at the heart of our commitments. When we translate the New York Declaration which we adopt here today into reality: More children can attend school.  
More workers can securely seek jobs abroad, instead of being at the mercy of criminal smugglers. And more people will have real choices about whether to move once we end conflict, sustain peace and increase opportunities at home.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development advances those goals. The Declaration we will adopt today rallies all partners around collective commitments:
To protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of their status.
To increase support for the hardest-hit countries.
To assist despairing people in protracted crises.
To ensure that children get an education.
To improve search and rescue operations.
And to boost humanitarian funding and resettlement of refugees.

Also today, we will formally bring the International Organization for Migration, IOM, into the United Nations system. This will further strengthen our collective response. Congratulation to IOM! We must change the way we talk about refugees and migrants.  And we must talk with them.  Our words and dialogue matter. That is why today, the United Nations is launching a new campaign called “Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” Acting together, we can respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope.

I call on world leaders to join this campaign and commit together to upholding the rights and dignity of everyone forced by circumstance to flee their homes in search of a better life. This summit shows that we can find common ground. But the summit will have real meaning only if we all honour the promises made here today. With courageous actions to implement the New York Declaration, we will ensure that no refugee or migrant is left behind.

Thank you for your strong commitment and leadership.

United Nations High Level Summit for Refugees and Migrants, 19 September 2016 at UNHQ, New York

Image may contain: textFor the first time, world leaders are coming together at the United Nations to address issues affecting both refugees and migrants!

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September is an historic opportunity for the world to agree on a better response to large movements of refugees and migrants.

Read more about the #UN4RefugeesMigrants Summit at;

English: http://refugeesmigrants.un.org

French: https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/fr/summit-refugees-and-migrants

 

Opening 71st General Assembly, new President pledges to ‘turn the wheels’ on implementing 17 Global Goals

H.E. Peter Thopmson, President of the 71st UN General Assembly

H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st UN General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly today opened its 71st session, with an emphasis on ensuring that implementation of the new global development goals, adopted by its 193 Member States last year, is well underway.

“The 70th Session launched the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], and for integrity’s sake the 71st must be the year we witness the wheels turning on the implementation of all 17 SDGs,” the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said as he opened the new session and took an oath of office.

Mr. Thomson, who had had been serving as the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations until his appointment, said that the theme of the 71st session is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World.’

The United Nations General Assembly today opened its 71st session, with an emphasis on ensuring that implementation of the new global development goals, adopted by its 193 Member States last year, is well underway.

“The 70th Session launched the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], and for integrity’s sake the 71st must be the year we witness the wheels turning on the implementation of all 17 SDGs,” the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said as he opened the new session and took an oath of office.  Mr. Thomson, who had had been serving as the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations until his appointment, said that the theme of the 71st session is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World.’

On 1 January 2016, the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September last year – officially came into force. Over the next fifteen years, with the aim of achieving the SDGs, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The new Assembly President noted that it had been heartening to observe the sincerity with which governments and national planning agencies around the world have begun integrating the 2030 Agenda into national processes. “But make no mistake, the great majority of humankind has yet to learn of the Agenda; it has yet to embrace the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, that if successfully implemented will bring an end to poverty and secure a sustainable place for humanity on this planet,” he said.

To fulfill his commitment to achieving meaningful progress in all 17 Goals during the session, Mr. Thomson said he had appointed a team specifically dedicated to the implementation of the SDGs.

Working with two Secretaries-General
This session will be also special, he flagged, in that his office will have the experience of working with two Secretaries-General. The search for the best possible candidate to fill the post is approaching its final stages. “As President of the Assembly I will dedicate myself to facilitation of the transition process, and will be available at all times to assist the incoming Secretary-General settle into her or his responsibilities of office,” he said.

Mr. Thomson also pledged to work to strengthen the relations between the UN’s organs, continuing the practice of holding regular meetings with the Secretary-General, the Presidents of the Security Council, and the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, and inform the membership as to the scope of these meetings.

He also pledged to maintain financial transparency of his presidency by ensuring that all contributions to the running of his office are entered into a UN trust fund where the donors and expenditure will be public knowledge. He said his team will strive to find new methods to resolve entrenched conflicts, diminish the atrocities of global terrorism, better manage migrant and refugee flows, and end the many humanitarian crises. The link between sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights has never been more explicit, he noted, drawing attention to next week’s high-level meeting on large movements of refugees and migrants. “I regret the evidence of widespread lack of empathy for people on the move, many of whom are fleeing from conflict, persecution, or climate change […] It is time to turn down the rhetoric of intolerance and ratchet up a collective response based on our common humanity,” he said.

In the area of peace and security, the Assembly President said the 71st session must build on the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism strategy, including the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on Violent Extremism, and act on improving the UN architecture to face these threats. The session must also look to take forward implementation of the ambitious ‘sustaining peace’ agenda, agreed by the General Assembly and Security Council earlier this year, he added, noting that this is an opportunity to bring new coherence and coordination to the UN’s work across peace and security, development, and human rights.

In his remarks, the new General Assembly president also highlighted the issue of UN Security Council reform. “The membership is unanimous in agreeing that reform is necessary to align the Security Council with the realities of the 21st Century,” he said. During his speech, Mr. Thomson invited to the stage his seven- and five-years-old granddaughters, who, he noted, will be young adults ready to fulfill the potential of their lives in 2030, when the remaining 14 years of the new development agenda have expired. “What kind of world will we have bequeathed them and all their brothers and sisters around the world, your own grandchildren and children, born and yet to be born?” he asked in an appeal to create a better future for them.

“The 71st session will only be fulfilling,” he said, “if at its end we can be assured real progress is underway on each of the Goals, that our faith and hope in progress is not misplaced, and that a better world will be at hand when the year 2030 rolls around.”

UN chief addresses new Assembly
Addressing the opening of the new Assembly session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the chosen theme. “This first year is crucial. It is a time when all Member States should align their policies, programmes and spending behind the 17 goals,” he said.

He said it is also a time to bring the Paris Agreement on climate change into force, drawing attention to the high-level event he is hosting on 21 September will strengthen momentum for achieving that objective this year. Mr Ban noted that on 1 January 2017, the 71st session of the Assembly will welcome his successor, the ninth UN Secretary-General. “You will serve as a bridge between my administration and the next […] You will have my full support, and that of my team, in ensuring a seamless transition,” he said.

“The Assembly will be called upon to address many threats, and to show its solidarity with people facing injustice,” he added. “People also look to this body not just to react to problems, but to work proactively and preventively to better the human condition.”

Earlier today, Mr. Ban attended a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 55th anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, one of his predecessors, at which he renewed his call to the General Assembly to appoint an eminent person or persons to review new information which may exist regarding the circumstances around his death and the loss of 15 others in a plane crash during their mission for peace.

Closure of 70th General Assembly
Prior to the opening of the 71st session, the General Assembly held the last meeting of its 70th session, with the outgoing Assembly President, Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark, underscoring the progress made under his leadership, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, as well as the holding of the Special Session on the World Drug Problem, and the World Humanitarian Summit. The General Assembly has discussed the three major UN reviews on peace building and peace operations, and on women, peace and security, he said.

Turning to the election of a new UN Secretary-General, Mr. Lykketoft said: “I am very proud that we broke new ground with unique transparency in the selection process. The two-hour presentation of each of the candidates in the General Assembly dialogues, and their collective Global Townhall debate, were important highlights and helped to include the global public in the debate about the future of the UN. And I hope that transparency proves instrumental in identifying the best possible new Secretary General over the coming months.”

He appealed to the Security Council to also make the remaining process open and engaging to preserve the legitimacy of their recommendation as it feeds into Assembly’s final decision.  “Throughout this session, I sought to instil greater transparency in everything we do – and I am delighted to see that many of the steps I have advanced relating to the integrity, transparency and accountability of my own office have now been codified in the GA Revitalization resolution adopted earlier this morning – and I look forward to witnessing the first ever taking of an oath of office by an incoming President in just a few moments,” he said.

President of the seventy-first session of the United Nations General Assembly – H.E. MR. PETER THOMSON

H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, President of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly

On 13 June 2016, the United Nations General Assembly elected Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji to serve as President of its seventy-first session, which runs from September 2016 to September 2017. Ambassador Thomson took office in New York as Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in February 2010, serving concurrently as Fiji’s Ambassador to Cuba until assumption of his duties as President of the UN General Assembly’s seventy-first session. Ambassador Thomson held office as Vice-President of the UN General Assembly in 2011-2012. He was elected as President of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority’s 2011-2012 session and then as President of the Council of the Authority’s 2015-2016 session. For the duration of 2013, he chaired the United Nations’ largest negotiating bloc, the Group of 77 and China. From January 2014 to January 2015, he served as President of the Executive Board of UN Development Programme/UN Population Fund/UN Office for Programme Support (UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS).

Between 1972 and 1987, he was a civil servant in the Government of Fiji working in the fields of rural development and then foreign affairs. His Fiji government career began as a district officer in the rural regions of Navua, Macuata and Taveuni. In 1978, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Suva, where he took on political and overseas development assistance responsibilities before being seconded to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 1979.

He was posted to Tokyo in 1981 with the responsibility of opening the Embassy of Fiji in Japan. He remained in Tokyo thereafter as First Secretary (Economic) until 1984, when he was appointed Consul-General of Fiji in Sydney.

In 1986, he returned to Fiji to become Permanent Secretary of Information, first under the leadership of Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and then under Prime Minister Dr. Timoci Bavadra. In May 1987, he was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Governor-General, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, a position he held until his resignation from the civil service following the second military coup d’etat of 1987.

Ambassador Thomson has served as a board member of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, Fiji TV and the Fiji Broadcasting Commission. From 1988 to 2009, he worked in private enterprise as a company director, an investment consultant and a management consultant specializing in Pacific affairs, with clients ranging from government agencies to regional organizations, banks, universities and investment corporations. Ambassador Thomson is a founding member of the executive committees of the Australia-Fiji Business Council and the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council and in 2007 was made a life member of the latter.

He was born in Suva, Fiji in 1948 and was educated at Suva Grammar School and Natabua High School in Fiji. In 1966-1967, he attended the International Centre at Sevenoaks School in the United Kingdom. A graduate in political studies (Auckland University, New Zealand) and development studies (Cambridge University, United Kingdom), Ambassador Thomson has had a lifelong involvement in the field of development.

He is a published author, with one of his books, Kava in the Blood, being the winner of a Montana Book Award for non-fiction. In 2014, he was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji, an award bestowed by the President of Fiji recognizing contributions and achievements by Fijians to the nation. He married Marijcke Thomson in Suva in 1973. They have a son, a daughter and three granddaughters.

The press kit is available online via the General Assembly website:

English: http://www.un.org/en/ga/71/presskit/
French:
http://www.un.org/fr/ga/71/presskit/