‘Together we can make a difference,’ says General Assembly President, previewing work ahead

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

New York, 1 October 2014 – President of the 69th session the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, told reporters at United Nations Headquarters today that the high-level general debate was very successful and that over the next year, work will be undertaken with “a spirit of cooperation and optimism inspired by the belief that together we can make a difference.”

The annual general debate brought to New York 117 Heads of State and Government, three Vice-Presidents, 56 Ministers, he said, which shows the increasing interest of world leaders in addressing today’s challenges, especially formulating the post-2015 development agenda.

“We will build on the success and the momentum of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which end next year, but we must now formulate an ambitious, inclusive and transformative agenda that will benefit the livelihoods of all people,” said Mr. Kutesa.

The overarching objective is the eradication of poverty and hungry. Financing that agenda will be key during this session, he said. Another focus for the Assembly will be on transferring technology and capacity-building in developing countries. It is important to find methods of financing, including from the private sector and civil society, “over and above” traditional official development assistance (ODA).

He went on to say that peace and security were also discussed at the debate, which ran from 24 to 30 September. Many Heads of State called for a global response to combat terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaida, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. In addition, Member States had asked for further cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations to try to optimize synergies, especially in nations emerging from conflict, and towards peacebuilding.

Most speakers were “very clear on climate change,” said Mr. Kutesa, adding that it was interesting to see the “growing appetite” to discuss a binding treaty, which would be the focus of a 2015 meeting in Paris of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“More than ever, I have seen more people, more Heads of State, more countries talking about the need for legally binding treaty on climate change,” he said. Rule of law and good governance were also discussed.

Ebola in West African countries came up as a major concern and appreciation was expressed for the initiative taken by the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council to establish a UN mission in West Africa that will coordinate support to countries affected.

The theme of the 69th session, “Delivering on and implementing a transformative post-2015 development agenda”, underscores the need to focus on ensuring effective implementation.