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Election of the President of the UN General Assembly 70th Session

15.06.2015  22:55
Acceptance speech by H. E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President Elect of the UN General Assembly, 70th session.

Current speaker of the Danish Parliament, H. E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, was elected President of the United Nations 70th General Assembly today in the General Assembly Hall in New York. H. E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft will be assuming office on the 15th of September and will lead the General Assembly for the following year under the theme “The UN at 70 – A New Commitment to Action”.

The PGA-elect delivered a speech after his election where he declared his intent to focus on sustainable development, peace & security and human rights during his tenure. H. E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft will be the first Dane to act as President of the General Assembly. The complete speech can be read here.


© UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Your Excellency, Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly,

Your Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Since Denmark signed the UN Charter 70 years ago in San Francisco, we have done our utmost to achieve the goals laid down in the Charter. We have had peacekeepers in active duty since the first UN-mission in 1956, and we have for almost four decades delivered on the 0.7-commitment of ODA.

Allow me to thank the distinguished Assembly for having entrusted me and – for the first time – my country with chairing its 70th Session.

I will turn 70 myself during the 70th session.

As a teenager - 55 years ago - I walked into the offices of the UN Association in Copenhagen to collect information about the workings of the United Nations.  I sincerely hoped that here was the framework in which rationality and humanity would prevail; that would make disarmament agreements possible; that could finally bring the major powers to cooperate for a better future for the whole human race; that could assist peoples in attaining self-government and independence and - without racial prejudice - could protect the rights of minorities, vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women, children, displaced, people with disabilities and indigenous peoples.

Today, this hope and these objectives remain as relevant as ever. We will celebrate the UN’s 70th anniversary throughout the session. I aim to organize our work in a way that allows us to reflect on the successes – but also the shortcomings - in these first 70 years, while also looking to the future.

The theme of my term as President will therefore be “The United Nations at 70 – A New Commitment to Action”.

Since San Francisco, the Organization has gained in universal membership. In that timespan, the world’s population has almost tripled to more than 7 billion people. The struggle to catalyse peaceful, sustainable development and combat climate change for all 7 billion is both the challenge and the opportunity of our lifetime.

Fundamentally, a girl or a boy born today has the same right as 70 years ago to aspire to - in the words of the Charter - “social progress and a better standard of life in larger freedom” and to enjoy equal rights of women and men in dignity. The key to success lies in identifying pathways for all countries to develop new ways and means to deliver on this aspiration. To produce and consume without undermining our common future for generations to come.

In order to succeed, we have to strive to build a more fair and stable world, and we all have to play our part. The donor countries must deliver on their commitments for ODA. In a world where the 92 wealthiest dollar-billionaires own more than the poorest half of humanity, all nations must strengthen resource mobilization efforts to meet development needs.

Mr President,

Allow me to thank you, for your guidance and vision and for focusing the 69th General Assembly on delivering a transformative post-2015 development agenda.

Over the past 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals have been a successful guide and framework for our joint efforts to reduce poverty, end hunger, bring children to school, combat deceases and maternal mortality to mention but a few achievements.

What is now in front of Member States is the final stretch towards adopting a universal, people-centred, transformative development agenda that addresses the struggle of our lifetime. When implemented, it will enable us to eradicate extreme poverty while keeping climate change at bay, building resilience, and creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Personally, I look forward to collaborating closely with you, Mr President, as our two countries will jointly - and symbolically - co-chair the Summit in September for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. A successful outcome will stand out as a historic achievement for the global sustainable development agenda, and indeed beyond.

I would also like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Secretary-General for his dedication to the UN and for his relentless focus on advancing the greater good of humanity.

Mr President,

My first priority will be to ensure that the Summit is an occasion for world leaders to join hands to achieve the new goals in a new commitment to action, which is the theme that I have chosen for the 70th session. This commitment - and the new global partnership that goes with it - will be at the core of driving the work of the United Nations until 2030.

We will operationalize this theme by taking stock of the three pillars of the UN. Since the Summit will focus on sustainable development, it will only be natural to dedicate this year’s General Debate to commemorating the UN at 70 and focus on the road ahead for Peace, Security and Human Rights.

The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa should provide the necessary boost and trust to mobilise substantial commitments and resources needed for the years to come. Decision-makers at all levels should feel obliged to and accountable for meeting their commitments. The global public, civil society and business should continue to engage and contribute, also beyond this conference.

A successful and ambitious outcome from COP21 in Paris on climate change will be the first real test of these commitments to development in an environmentally sustainable manner – the first transformation of the new goals into actual action on a wider scale. We must not fail this test.

The youth of today would suffer the consequences of our generation’s inability to find common ground. I therefore firmly support your focus on climate change, Mr President, and if needed I am ready to build on your efforts to enable success in Paris.

Mr President,

It is a sad but inescapable assessment that the world today suffers from armed conflicts, terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, nuclear proliferation as well as increasing risks of further tensions among major powers. In this context, the UN’s effective and efficient contribution to international peace and security – the second of my overall priorities – is more important than ever.

It seems all too apparent that only a world that demonstrates respect for the most fundamental of our human rights will be sufficiently harmonious as well as socially and economically sustainable.

Therefore, my third priority is to support further progress in the field of human rights. Issues such as governance, rule of law, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women should all be considered an integral part of obtaining and safekeeping progress in other fields of intervention, be they peace and security related, or developmental in nature.

Mr President,

With an overall focus on the UN at 70 and the implementation of the new universal agenda and the new commitments, I will convene a limited number of high-level events in 2016. In addition, it is my intention to organise a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter on Friday 23 October. Cutting across the three priorities will be a firm emphasis on gender equality and youth as well as creating and nurturing partnerships with civil society, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders.

I intend to organize high-level events in April, May and July respectively on:

First:  How to achieve the new sustainable development goals, targets and commitments;

Second:  Strengthening the role and coherence of the United Nations in peace and security, including creating synergies between the follow up to the reviews of peace operations, peacebuilding, and women, peace and security.

And third: The implementation of the human rights, governance, rule of law and gender aspects of the work of the United Nations.

My goal is to seek pragmatic and action-oriented outcomes that can provide guidance on how to proceed with timely and effective implementation for all actors – the UN-system, Member States, civil society and private sector.

Within this overall frame and in support of these events, I will also convene a limited number of briefings, thematic debates and consultations with non-state actors.

In preparing for my election, I have aimed to consult broadly with Member States. I have personally been enriched and moved by the discussions and the excellent advice. I look forward to continue our close cooperation throughout my tenure.

Many have pointed out their interest in seeing progress on the UN reform agenda and the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. Most interest seems to be centred on reform of the Security Council and creating more transparency and openness when selecting the next Secretary-General. I will aim at continuing the work based on the status in both tracks when the 70th Session begins.

My intention is to conduct the presidency in a transparent, inclusive and open manner. At the same time, I will also aim to be hands-on and involved in coordinating the work of the General Assembly as it unfolds over the course of the 70th session. This includes the 10 year review of the World Summit on Information Society in December, the UN’s budget and the two Special Sessions on the world drug problem and HIV/Aids in June next year.

I intend to continue the tradition of coordinating closely with the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council to ensure a seamless flow of information between the main bodies.

In my engagement with the UN-system, I will seek to ensure that the General Assembly is regularly briefed on how subsidiary bodies as well as funds, agencies and programmes move forward in their work with implementing the outcomes of the major conferences held in 2015.

Mr President,

Today’s decision-makers must acknowledge that 2015 is the time to make a new commitment to action for the sake of generations to come.

That is the signal we should send from the 70th session of this, the world’s most representative, deliberative, multilateral body.

The interconnectedness and universality of the new sustainable development goals and the global complexities they reflect, create unprecedented challenges and opportunities.

We will have to find ways to achieve sustainable growth, where the distance between rich and poor nations and peoples does not become larger but smaller.

Where we not only create development and eradicate extreme poverty but also deliver a more equitable access to and distribution of global goods.

And where global cooperation creates a more fair, sustainable and stable world as envisaged by the Charter.

Multilateralism and the work of the United Nations, the trust and hope in global solutions it inspires, is as needed today, as it was when the UN was established. As it was those 55 years ago when I for the first time actively embraced the hopes and ideas of a stronger, more committed, more cooperative international community.

Thank you.