U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – “The 70th session of the General Assembly has opened with a towering achievement,” UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday morning as he convened the debate and commended “the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, including 17 inspiring Sustainable Development Goals.”
“Our mission is possible,” he added. “And our destination is in our sights: an end to extreme poverty by 2030; a life of peace and dignity for all.”
The secretary-general spoke about ways to implement the recently adopted plan into action.
“We owe this and much more to the vulnerable, the oppressed, the displaced and the forgotten people in our world,” he said. “We owe this to a world where inequality is growing, trust is fading, and impatience with leadership can be seen and felt far and wide.”
Ban stressed that the United Nations must remember the promises made in its charter, and “hear the voices of ‘we the peoples’” in order to “overcome the grim realities of the present – and seize the remarkable opportunities of our era.”
He also spoke about climate change and expressed his hope that the upcoming conference on the issue, which will take place in Paris in December, will result in a robust agreement.
The secretary-general mentioned the refugee crisis and called on nations to provide more assistance in finding a solution for the displaced.
“People need emergency assistance, but what they want even more is lasting solutions,” he told the General Assembly. “They may appreciate a tent, but they deserve to go home.”
“Our aim is not just to keep people alive, but to give them a life – a decent life,” he added.
The war in Syria and Iraq was also at the center of the speech. Ban called on countries to look beyond the borders of Syria for a solution to the conflict.
“Five countries in particular hold the key: the Russian Federation, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey,” he said. “But as long as one side will not compromise with the other, it is futile to expect change on the ground.”
“We must also guard against the dangerous drift in the Middle East Peace process,” he added and called on Israelis and Palestinians to reengage in the peace process.
According to Ban, “succeeding generations depend on us to finally get our priorities right.”
The debate of the 70th session of the General Assembly at the UN will continue until October 3. More than 200 state leaders are scheduled to speak, making the event the largest ever gathering of world leaders at the UN.
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