President urges end to business as usual as UN Assembly debate wraps

29 September 2008The President of the General Assembly today proclaimed the need to end “business as usual” in global affairs, issuing a call at the conclusion of the 192-member body’s annual high-level debate for urgent action to address challenges ranging from the twin food and financial crises to United Nations reform. “We have outlined our priority concerns, and reaffirmed our conviction that this uniquely representative body remains the most important and most democratic forum for global debate,” Miguel D’Escoto said, wrapping up the five-day event that heard from over 100 heads of State and government. The Assembly is a forum that facilitates dialogue and solutions for answers to global issues, he said. “But it is only when all voices are heard that we can expect to implement truly comprehensive solutions.” The current financial turmoil “has its roots in a ‘mania of selfishness’ that has come to dominate today’s culture of ‘I and mine,’” the President noted. “Those appealing for courage and compassion have far outnumbered those who inspire fear and distrust.” Characterizing the food crisis as “madness,” Mr. D’Escoto said that “we are still facing the shameful fact that hundreds of millions of people suffer from hunger and malnutrition.” But he voiced hope in the proposals put forward by speakers at the debate, which he said will prevent the situation from becoming “a prolonged catastrophe” if put into action. Addressing immense inequities means that “we must take steps to defuse time bombs that are ticking at the heart of virtually all of our societies,” the President said, adding that this will require sacrifices on the part of all UN Member States. “And there are undeniable signs that we are getting our priorities straight. We have decided to focus first and foremost on the most vulnerable, the billions of people who are living in abject poverty and neglect.” Last week, two large events were held on Africa’s development needs and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline. “These high-level meetings have generated unmistakable momentum for a successful gathering in Doha in November when we consolidate the promises around financing for development,” Mr. D’Escoto said, referring to the upcoming meeting to review the implementation of the 2002 landmark anti-poverty agreement known as the Monterrey Consensus. The General Debate also heard for the need to reform the United Nations, he said. “We must overcome our failures of the 20th century and move into the 21st century with renewed confidence that this Organization can indeed fulfil our obligations to the world,” he said, adding that leaders expressed their support for talks on the composition of the Security Council. The President also noted the need to reform the General Assembly, “the most representative body in the world. We must restore authority to the Assembly that was intended in the Charter.”

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