President for the 71st session of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson has said combating terrorism, moving the UNSC reform process forward and ensuring implementation of the new global development goals will be his focus in the current session.
The 193-member General Assembly opened its 71st session on Tuesday, a week before world leaders gather at the UN for the high-level General Debate beginning on September 20.
The session is the last for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose 10-year tenure ends in December.
Thomson, who had been serving as Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations until his appointment, said his focus will be the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, combating terrorism, moving the UNSC reform process forward and the refugee crisis engulfing the world.
He said the 70th Session launched the Sustainable Development Goals and for “integrity’s sake” the 71st session must be the year “we witness the wheels turning on the implementation of all 17 SDGs”.
The theme of the 71st session is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World.’
Over the next fifteen years, with the aim of achieving the SDGs, countries will mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
He underscored that the reform of the UN Security Council is “work at hand” for the 71st session.
“The membership is unanimous in agreeing that reform is necessary to align the Security Council with the realities of the 21st Century, not least of which will be the security consequences of Climate Change. The question is not whether reform is necessary, but how and in what form it will be achieved.
“And since reform is required in the best interests of the community of nations as a whole, it is therefore logical that the community as a whole must move forward together in resolving reform. I am committed to facilitating this movement in the 71st session,” he said.
He added that the current session will be also special 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.
He added that the link between sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights has never been more explicit, 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 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.