Key issues to be raised at UN’s 71st General Assembly

160909_UN_assembly[UN-NGO] Sisters Catherine Prendergast and Margaret O’Dwyer, representing the Company of the Daughters of Charity at the United Nations, share the news below from the UN in New York:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change, and support for refugees and migrants are just a few of more than 170 agenda topics to be addressed during the United Nation’s upcoming 71st General Assembly (GA). The Assembly runs September 13 to 26 at UN Headquarters in New York.  The General Assembly provides a forum for discussion of international issues, including peace and security.

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Peter Thomson and Ban Ki-Moon

Ambassador Peter Thomson, from Fiji, will be the first leader from a Pacific Island state to take office as President of the General Assembly.   He has established a General Debate theme entitled,   “The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world.”     That debate opens September 20.

A September 19, high-level summit will address the critical issue of large movements of refugees and migrants.  It is the first time the General Assembly has called for such a summit at this high level. In his report earlier this year on large movements of refugees and migrants, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged Member States to:

  • Uphold safety and dignity in large movements of refugees and migrants
  • Adopt a global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees
  • Develop a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration

160909 UN info2 ENU.S. President Obama is hosting a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, together with co-hosts Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden, on September 20.   They will ask governments for significant new commitments related to refugees.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders from all countries to attend a September 21 event.  He will ask them to deposit their instruments of ratification to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

As of August 30, only 23 member states had deposited their instruments of ratification, representing countries responsible for only 1.08% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.  For the Paris Agreement to take effect, 55 nations representing at least 55% of global emissions must ratify it.

160909_SeChildrenIt is unclear whether the General Assembly will choose the next Secretary General in September.  The General Assembly appoints a Secretary General following a recommendation by the Security Council.  There is no formal timetable, but the appointment should happen at least one month before the end of Ban Ki-Moon’s term on December 31.

160909 UN info1 ENSome are still hoping for a first female General Secretary, but Portugal’s former Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, took a lead in the contest after a third Security Council secret ballot on August 29.  The next poll takes place September 9.

There has been an informal practice of choosing the Secretary General from rotating regions. Currently, it is Eastern Europe’s turn.  But candidates from outside of Eastern Europe are also receiving close attention in this election.

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 For more information on Daughters of Charity at the UN: www.cmdcngo.org

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