UN General Assembly opens 72nd session with focus on the world’s people

Sushma Swaraj to Address the General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly opened its 72nd session, with an emphasis on striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet on September 12th, 2017. The General Debate will open on Tuesday, 19 September 2017, with a focus on the theme, ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’.

“The UN was created for people,” Miroslav Lajčák said in his first address as President of the General Assembly. “The people who need the UN the most are not sitting in this hall today. They are not involved in the negotiation of resolutions. They do not take the floor at high-level events. It is one of the tasks of the General Assembly to make sure that their voices can still be heard.”

Ahead of the opening, the career diplomat from Slovakia spoke to UN News about his hopes for his one-year tenure, and said that conflict prevention and migration would top his agenda. He noted that while it was “impossible” to select one priority for the UN to focus on this year, his aim will be to strive for balance, so that all points of view are represented. He also stressed quality and transparency in his future work.  Lajčák takes the reins one week before the start of the high-level General Assembly debate, and said he hoped the 193 UN Member States participating would treat each other with diplomacy and mutual respect. Speaking to reporters later in the day, Mr. Lajčák reiterated the importance of using the world body to assist people around the world.

Addressing the opening of the General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres also emphasized the importance of focusing on people in the UN’s work and underscored his proposed reforms to streamline the Organization.

“People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver,” he said. “We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver. That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.” He added that one key change within and beyond the UN must be the empowerment of women and girls around the world, and highlighted his own roadmap for achieving gender parity.

In preparation for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the UN has released documents related to its agenda items on Education, Environmental Conventions, and Social Development. A summary of UNGA 72 documents on Trade, Gender and Human Development, and a summary of documents on Globalization and 2030 Agenda, Technology and Innovation, and Water and Sanitation have been released.

The President of the 72nd session of the UNGA, Miroslav Lajčák, identified the following six overarching priorities for his tenure following his election: making a difference in the lives of ordinary people; prevention and mediation for sustaining peace; migration; political momentum for the SDGs and climate; human rights and equality, including equal opportunities for genders; and quality of events organized by the Presidency. A number of events will take place in parallel to the opening of the 72nd session of the UNGA, including Global Goals Week 2017 and Climate Week NYC 2017.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 23 in New York. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the UNGA session for the first time in three years.

Prime Minister Modi in 2014 presented the UN summit his vision for India’s foreign policy that decisively moved away from the vestiges of the polemics of the anti-colonial era while committing to promotion of global democracy. He had also pitched the creation of International Yoga Day, which was quickly adopted by the Assembly.

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