World leaders to discuss peace and decent lives for all

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

World leaders will gather in New York, September 12-25, for the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.   Presidents and prime ministers will be present for what is called “the General Debate,” which begins on Tuesday, September 19th.  During the debate, leaders will offer thoughts on the theme: “Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.”

Annually, the General Assembly selects a leader who will preside over their meetings throughout the year.  This year’s president is His Excellency, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for Slovakia. In September, he will replace outgoing President Peter Thomson, of Fiji. It is the first time a Slovakian has been chosen for the role.

Mr. Lajčák expressed six priorities when accepting the position in late May:

  1. Bringing the UN closer to people. “It is a key task for the General Assembly as the most representative organ to step up its efforts,” he said. “It should make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people.”
  2. Highlighting the importance of prevention and mediation in sustaining peace.
  3. Addressing migration. “Migration is not a short-term seasonal and regional problem,” he said.  “It is a very complex global and generational issue that needs true world-wide attention.”  (The UN will adopt a Global Compact on Migration in 2018…)
  4. Accentuating the Sustainable Development Goals and climate. “More should be done to address inequalities and ways to help mainly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States,” he commented.
  5. Engaging a human rights perspective. Human rights will be an overarching principle guiding his work, Lajčak indicated.   “There is no peace and development without respect for dignity and fundamental rights,” he said.
  6. Emphasizing the importance of quality. Mr. Lajcak pledged not to launch initiatives that would result in additional burdens, particularly for smaller states, saying he would rather create a streamlined agenda, organized in clusters.

Mr. Lajčák noted that by far, the most mentioned UN reform topic is that of revising the UN Security Council. He expressed a desire to upgrade the Security Council to a 21st century body.

In preparation for the 72nd General Assembly, the UN has released several documents related to sustainable development implementation.   They involve education for sustainable development, the environment, and social development, such as consideration of aging populations.  Many additional issues will be addressed during the General Assembly.

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