DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the seventy-eighth session of the General Assembly, outlined this session’s imperative: to unite the nations, to be united in conviction of common purpose and in solidarity of joint action. “War. Climate change. Debt. Energy and food crises. Poverty and famine. These crises are directly impacting the lives and well-being of billions of people around the world,” he said, calling on Member States to rebuild trust and reignite global solidarity. Quoting the late United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, he said: “If the UN did not exist, we would have to invent it.” Continuing, he said that the world is fortunate that the Organization does indeed exist and called on Member States to make full and effective use of this unparalleled resource.
Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he mentioned the continued violation of that country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by another UN Member State. The horrendous war there has unleashed untold suffering and destroyed countless families, communities and lives, while its cascading impacts are triggering food insecurity, volatility in energy prices and the threat of nuclear warfare. “We all want this war to end. It is an affront to everything that this organization and the UN Charter stands for. We need just and sustainable peace in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world, in line with international law and with the UN Charter. Peace must also be given a chance in other parts of the globe — from Africa to the Middle East,” he underscored.
Referring to the current high-level week with the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, he said that there have been unacceptable delays and rollbacks with regards to the Goals and called on States “to make up for the lost momentum and work much harder in the remaining seven years to accelerate progress”. “As a citizen of a climate-vulnerable region, I urge Member States to recognize the continued and escalating impacts of climate change — and to deliver real, transformative results,” he stressed. As 2023 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he pledged: “As President of the seventy-eighth session, I am committed to championing vulnerable and marginalized groups.”
Despite many and complex challenges, the ability exists to effect change and make a meaningful difference to the lives of billions of people. “We do not lack capacity. What we lack is the will to act. By putting aside our differences and bridging divides we can deliver peace, progress, prosperity and sustainability to everyone, everywhere,” he said, calling on Member States to re-energize the General Assembly and demonstrate capacity and will to deliver for all.
Global unity and solidarity are needed in the face of myriad crises that threaten to reverse decades of development gains and resign millions to poverty, the President of the UN General Assembly said in his address to the opening of its 78th General Debate on Tuesday. Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago underscored the Assembly’s role as a unique and truly global platform for debate, dialogue, and problem-solving through multilateral diplomacy.
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