As General Assembly wraps up high-level debate, speakers stress vital need for UN

2 October 2003
GA President Julian Hunte

As the fifty-eighth General Assembly wound up its annual high-level debate today, Assembly President Julian Hunte said the speakers emphasized the vital necessity of the United Nations multilateral approaches to global crises in these unsettled times and asked the 191-member body to focus on such issues as poverty, HIV/AIDS, global economic equity and environmental protection.

Mr. Hunte, of St. Lucia, noted in his closing statement that these opinions had come from 50 Heads of State, 27 Heads of Government and 94 Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers.

"Our leaders have given direction to the work we are to do and political support for it," Mr. Hunte said. "We must now carry forward the commitments they have made, if the hopes and aspirations expressed are to be realized.

"Development and the prosperity of countries and regions received much attention from high-level representatives…The regrettable outcome of the Cancún round of (trade) negotiations gives new impetus to calls for full consideration of development issues by the General Assembly," he added. imageVideo

At the World Trade Organization negotiations last month in Cancún, Mexico, developing countries abandoned the talks, saying some industrialized countries would not give up certain prohibited trade subsidies.

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President Askar Akayev

Leading off the last morning of debate, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, said that in recent months, the United Nations had become an arena for intense debate, leading some "hotheads" to claim that the organization had exhausted its potential. The disputes and discussions of the past year illustrated democracy at work, however, he said. While there was nothing reprehensible about disputes per se, he said, polarization over the past months had endangered the United Nations. "Attempts to restrain [the UN's] role are perceived, especially by small States, as a means of undermining the world body," he said.The United Nations faced many challenges, including political and religious extremism, territorial separatism, drug trafficking and pandemics, Mr. Akayev said. He also supported firm measures to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and believed that the use of force should be authorized by the Security Council and based on international law. imageVideo

Among the other speakers in the morning session were Foreign Minister Elvin Nimrod of Grenada, Foreign Minister François Lonsény Fall of Guinea, Foreign Minister Knowlson Gift of Trinidad and Tobago, Rogatieu Biaou, Benin's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Ali Said Abdella of Eritrea, and Foreign Minister Mamadou Bamba of Côte d'Ivoire.

Several chairpersons of delegations also spoke, including Fernand Poukré-Kono of the Central African Republic, Klára Novotná of Slovakia and Claude Morel of Seychelles.

In the afternoon, the speakers included the Foreign Ministers of Niger, Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Suriname, Maria Levens, Liberia, Lewis Brown, Georgia, Irakli Menagarishvili, Zambia, Kalombo Mwansa, Congo, Rodolphe Adada, Fiji, Keliopate Tavola, and Somalia, Ahmed Abdi Hashi.

Also taking part in the afternoon session were Alfredo Cabral, Chairman of the delegation from Guinea-Bissau, Martin Belinga-Eboutou, Chairman of the delegation from Cameroon, and Ahmad Chalabi, Chairman of the delegation from Iraq.

 

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