MOGENS LYKKETOFT (center) takes part in a moment of silence with Ban Ki-moon (left) and Tegegnework Gettu at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 16, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The United Nations officially kicked off it’s 70th general assembly on Tuesday, also marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the organization.
In his first speech as president of the General Assembly, Danish politician Mogens Lykketoft spoke about “an urgent need for action,” and expressed his hope that the new session will be “truly historic” and one of “not just of ground-breaking decisions, but one of much needed concerted action for people and planet.”
Lykketoft, who was appointed to the position after an election in June, has significant political experience serving as the speaker of the Danish Parliament, as well as finance, taxation and even foreign minister in Denmark.
Lykketoft made clear that the 70th General Assembly is to be faced with many challenges and missions this year.
Among them, world leaders are expected, by the end of this month, to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which secretary-general Ban Ki-moon described as the crowning achievement of the 69th General Assembly.
The Agenda consists of 17 sustainable development goals including eradicating poverty in all its forms everywhere; ending hunger; promoting gender equality; and combating climate change; among many others. The Agenda states the countries’ commitment to work toward fulfilling these targets, over the next 15 years.
“In signing up to the 2030 Agenda, governments will voluntarily commit to take action for the dignity, security, prosperity and human rights of our shared humanity, for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; for the sound management and fair distribution of the Earth’s finite resources, and for the health and vitality of our planet,” Lykketoft said.
But sustainable development, he added, will not be possible without tackling the issue of security in the world.
“The UN and its member states have a strong obligation to work together to end the catastrophic wars and conflicts – not least in and around Syria,” the president said. “And we will have to act here and now to address the huge and explosive refugee crises resulting from ongoing conflicts – and to protect the human rights of all refugees.”
Over the next two weeks the GA’s podium will host many speakers, including Pope Francis who is scheduled to address the assembly on September 25 as part of his first official trip to the United States.
The General Debate of the 70th Session will take place from September 28 through October 6; some 200 leaders are on list of speakers for the six-day event, which many already have described as potentially the largest-ever gathering of world-leaders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to take the podium on October 1.
On September 28, US President Barack Obama, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and, for the first time, Cuban President Raul Castro will address the assembly.