Statement by the President
at the close of the General Debate
at the 58Th Session of the General Assembly on 2 October 2003
Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Distinguished
Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have come to the end of the general debate of
the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly. It is noteworthy
that this session attracted the highest level of participation since
the Millennium Summit. Among the 189 speakers, the Assembly heard
50 Heads of State, 27 Heads of Government and 94 Deputy-Prime-Ministers
and Foreign Ministers.
I express my sincere appreciation to every Head of
State and Government, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
for their active participation, and for their constructive contribution
to the debate, and support for my stated priorities.
When I opened this general debate, I indicated that
I would be listening carefully to the priorities identified by high-level
participants, which would provide the framework for this Assembly's
work. What I have heard gives clear indication of where member states
are on many of the critical issues that will be before the Assembly.
There was resounding support in the general debate
for multilateralism and reaffirmation of the United Nations as the
primary international organization to address critical global problems.
In fact, many expressed the view that in these unsettled times;
the United Nations and multilateralism were needed now, more than
The central role of the General Assembly as advocate,
supervisory and policy-making body was a point consistently made.
However, continuing revitalization efforts were urged, to permit
the Assembly to deal effectively with challenges, both old and new.
Development and the prosperity of countries and regions
received much attention from high-level representatives. They supported
the view that the fifty-eighth session should give appropriate focus
to issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, equity in the global economic
system and the preservation of the environment. The regrettable
outcome of the Cancun round of negotiations gives new impetus to
calls for full consideration of development issues by the General
Assembly, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Some speakers reminded us that the outcomes of the
High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, set for 29-30
October 2003, would be critical to the work we will do in the area
of development. Therefore, we expect high-level in the High-level
Strong support was expressed for the ten year review
of the Plan of Action for the Sustainable development of Small Island
Developing' States. This should auger well for the successful of
the review and implementation of its outcomes.
Considerable attention was given to Africa's development
needs, as well as the requirement to keep these matters high on
the Assembly's agenda. Many stressed the need for continued international
support for the implementation of NEPAD, and for cooperation and
support to bring peace and stability to the African continent.
The Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report on
the work of the organization, gave us thought provoking insight
into his priorities for the coming year. In this context, we have
noted the Secretary General's proposals on United Nations reform,
including the establishment of a high level panel of eminent persons
to review these matters for our consideration.
Security Council reform continued to command attention.
The general view was that the Assembly should continue this work,
notwithstanding that effort in this area for more than a decade
had not yielded tangible results.
I do not recall a statement in which the situation
in post-war Iraq and the need to urgently address all aspects of
it were not emphasized as a priority for the United Nations. This
was an area in which general support was expressed for initiatives
to bring relief to the people of Iraq and to permit them to take
responsibility for their own future.
Almost without exception, all condemned the brutal
attack on the United Nations premises in Baghdad on 19 August 2003
and the loss of life and injury to, United Nations staff. It was
agreed the attack was the latest and formidable challenge to the
United Nations and to the security of United Nations staff. There
was support for the Secretary General's initiative to review the
matter of safety and security for United Nations staff.
The situation in the Middle East was considered to
be a matter of grave concern. It was thought that the General Assembly
could send a strong message to both sides in the conflict - Israel
and Palestine - put an end to bloodshed and violence. Implementation
of the proposed Road Map was seen by many as a viable means of bringing
long-lasting peace to the Middle East.
The one-day High-level Plenary on HIV/AIDS, which
took place on 22 September 2003, immediately preceding the general
debate, was considered by all to have been both constructive and
productive. The views expressed in both the Plenary and the interactive
debate underscored the need for a cooperative approach in addressing
this most devastating pandemic.
The foregoing is my brief, personal observations,
of salient issues raised in the general debate, which I thought
I should share with you. As I reviewed the many statements, I was
struck by the common ground among speakers over a wide range of
issues. This makes me hopeful that we will be able to do good work
in this General Assembly during the fifty-eighth session.
Our leaders have given direction to the work we are
to do, and political support for it. We must now carry forward the
commitments they have made, if the hopes and aspirations expressed
are to be realized.
Let me conclude by expressing my sincere appreciation
to the Vice Chairmen of the General Assembly for their assistance
and cooperation in the conduct of the work of the general debate.
I also wish to thank the dedicated secretariat staff and commend
them for their support and cooperation.
At the outset, allow me to express my sincere appreciation
for the kind words of support and assurances of co-operation that
you extended to me and the Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly.
We will do our outmost to fulfill your expectations.