Diplomacy, reform top list as UNGA session begins

Peaceful settlement of disputes and much-needed reform of the United Nations will be key priorities of the 66th session of the General Assembly.

New York: Peaceful settlement of
disputes and the much-needed reform of the United Nations will
be key priorities of the 66th session of the General Assembly
that commenced here on Wednesday, the new president of the 193-member
policymaking organ said.

Assembly`s president Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar
called for cooperation among member states to tackle looming
crises including conflicts and climate change at the first
meeting of the 66th session.

"Moving forward the myriad of issues before us will
require hard work, integrity and partnership. The sands are
shifting.

"We have before us a unique opportunity to shape change
and ensure that our next chapter will be safer for the most
vulnerable and more prosperous for those in need," he said in
his inaugural speech to the 193-member body.

Outlining the four main areas of focus for this year`s
session, he said priority will be given to peaceful settlement
of disputes, a need that has become more relevant and urgent
than ever.

"It is my view that the General Assembly should, through
its revitalisation, become more engaged and empowered on
issues of mediation, so that it can fulfil its role as the
world`s preeminent peacemaker at this major juncture in
international relations," he said.

Next week the Assembly will hold its annual General
Debate, when world leaders gather to discuss key global
issues. His main theme for the debate would be mediation. "This is a very timely issue," he said.

"The world is going through difficult times. Diplomacy is
needed today."

The other key area that requires urgent attention is UN
reform, he said, adding that it is important to revitalise the
Assembly`s work so that it remains efficient and
representative, especially in responding to emerging crises,
and for reforming the Security Council.

The Council, whose resolutions alone are legally binding
while the Assembly`s are recommendations, has not changed in
decades, with five permanent members with veto powers - China,
France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US - and 10
non-permanent members without veto elected for two-year terms.

Formal talks to reform it have been under way for more
than 18 years.

"There is no shame in recognising that after six decades
our organisation needs reform," Al-Nasser said.

The third priority would be to improve disaster
prevention and response.

Citing unprecedented surge of natural and man-made
disasters, Al-Nasser said populations across the world are
experiencing increased vulnerability, food insecurity and
health and education crises.

"To address these critical issues, we must enhance
cooperation among various actors".

The last focus area, he said, would be sustainable
development and global prosperity.

"With the target date for achieving the Millennium
Development Goals on the horizon, and as we face global
economic turmoil, improving global governance and finding
innovative financing modalities will continue to be on our
agenda," he said.

No one country can address challenges of climate change
and the global financial crisis alone and the UN should be the
central forum to discuss these, he said.

PTI

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