GG News Bureau
UNITED NATIONS, 29th Sept. President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Dennis Francis on Thursday called the international community to end the war in Ukraine, promote climate action and boost efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dennis Francis briefed journalists in New York on highlights from the 78th general debate of Heads of State of Government from the 193 countries concluded earlier this week.
Mr. Francis said 189 leaders spoke from the rostrum, “an impressive increase indeed over recent years.” Twenty-one were women, or one less than the previous year.
He convened the second annual platform of women leaders at the outset of the High-Level Week, which ran from 19-26 September.
The focus was on the role of women in achieving the SDGs, which aim to deliver a more just, equitable and greener world by 2030.
“These leaders showcased why it is so important to recognize and elevate the talents and perspectives of half of humanity in tackling today’s challenges,” he said.
He noted that the high level debate was marked by calls to resolve conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine.
“I was unequivocal when speaking to the membership that we need peace, Ukraine needs peace, and that this war must stop, must end,” he said.
Mr. Francis added that the call for stronger climate action also resonated across the world body in his meetings with leaders, and at two high-level meetings on climate mobility and sea level rise.
SDG Summit and political declaration marked the start of a new phase of accelerated progress to achieve the 17 goals by deadline.
The high-level meetings focused on Financing for Development and health issues, with leaders approving the first-ever UN political declaration on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, he stressed.
Francis reiterated that the governments reaffirmed the right to universal health coverage, set targets to stamp out tuberculosis by the end of the decade, and underlined the need for “serious action” to eliminate nuclear weapons which he called “a moral duty of our time”.
He said on the issue of reforming the UN Security Council, whose five permanent members possess right of veto.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that the General Assembly should be given the power to override vetoes.
Mr. Francis said the Council was designed for a world that no longer exists and reform is not a simple task.
“We do need to rethink the structure of the Security Council so that it more aptly represents current realities of global politics. That is going to be a process that will continue to engage the house for some time,” he said.
President turned the spotlight on the media and their important role in society when asked if the world body will be able to achieve SDGs by 2030.
“These commitments were made in public in front of you guys, who influence public opinion,” he said. “How will you react if you detect over time that commitments made have not in fact been honored?”
He expressed hope that the pledges will become reality, he remarked that “at the end of the day, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.”