General Assembly President holds talks with leaders in Finland

General Assembly President holds talks with leaders in Finland

Climate change, economic development and United Nations reform topped the agenda during talks between General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim and Finnish Government leaders over the past two days in Helsinki.

In a meeting with Finland’s President Tarja Halonen today, Mr. Kerim focused on the priority topics of the current Assembly session, including climate change and the efforts to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Ms. Halonen and Mr. Kerim also discussed the gender aspects of these issues and of sustainable development, the Assembly President’s spokesperson told reporters.

The Assembly’s priority topics were also the focus of discussions today with Sauli Niinistö, the Speaker of Parliament, and with a group of parliamentarians from different political parties.

Last night Mr. Kerim held talks with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and with Foreign Trade and Development Minister Paavo Väyrynen, and the three men agreed that reform of the UN needed to reflect changes in the international system. Mr. Vanhanen also accepted an invitation to address next week’s high-level debate at the Assembly on the MDGs.

While in Finland, Mr. Kerim spoke at a seminar in Espoo on the subject of the UN in the era of globalization, stressing that the world had outgrown what he called the rigid parameters of existing institutional frameworks.

The President said in his keynote address that two major interdependent shifts currently occurring in world affairs offered the opportunity of “achieving a new culture of international relations.”

The first was a move away from State-centred policies towards human-centred approaches that emphasized the individual as the main subject and agency of policy. The second was a gradual move away from a preoccupation with rights to the acceptance of responsibilities that go with those rights, both for the State and for the individual.

He said any reform of the UN had to aim to ensure that its forums were more flexible, dynamic and capable of acting on the basis of an “equilibrium of interests” rather than on the principle of maintaining a balance of power.

Earlier this week, Mr. Kerim also visited Rome and met Pope Benedict XVI, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and other leaders.