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Outgoing General Assembly President outlines progress, setbacks over past year

Outgoing General Assembly President outlines progress, setbacks over past year

As the United Nations General Assembly wound up its 55th session this afternoon, the outgoing Assembly President, Harri Holkeri of Finland, addressed the progress made in some of the Organization's reform efforts and the obstacles that still stood in the way.

In a closing statement reflecting his observations during his year-long tenure as President of the Assembly, Mr. Holkeri pointed out the inadequacies to the follow-up to the Millennium Summit as well as the other UN conferences held over the past decade, stating that Member States and the respective entities of the UN Secretariat seemed unable to break the habit of considering various issues in isolation, rather than in the overall context of the global agenda.

The outgoing President said the work of the plenary should be reinvigorated and Member States should show greater restraint in requesting the inclusion of new items on its agenda. Otherwise, the work of the plenary will become clogged and the institution, itself, irrelevant, he added.

Mr. Holkeri also said the discussion on Security Council reform had to move to a higher political level as a way of building sufficient political will, and suggested that governments consider a step-by-step approach as had been done in reforming the General Assembly.

Citing the need for constant interaction between the Charter bodies, Mr. Holkeri recommended the continuation of regular meetings between the Assembly President and the Presidents of both the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as well as with the Chairs of the five regional groups to inform Member States about the Assembly's work.

When asked at a press conference following the conclusion of the 55th session about the United States' financial contributions to the UN, Mr. Holkeri said Washington had committed itself last December to certain financial pledges. "I hope President Bush will help this organization in that respect," he said.

In another development, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was scheduled to meet this afternoon in New York with Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea, who is to be the President of the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly that begins tomorrow.