By R. Anil Kumar
The UNGA President Dennis Francis identified the Summit of the Future as a priority to supercharge Sustainability Development Goals (SDG)implementation, “adapt our systems for good governance and the efficient delivery of global public goods,” and “have a meaningful dialogue with relevant stakeholders with a view to fixing… the international financial architecture”.
Francis looked forward to convening an inaugural Sustainability Week in April and said it will “bring into sharper focus the vulnerabilities of countries in special situations” and emphasized his commitment to inclusive decision making.
United Nations General Assembly. The President of the General Assembly H.E Dennis Francis laid out his priorities for the rest of his term, as the UN body of 193 Member States finds itself increasingly in the public spotlight over the Gaza crisis, and inaction on the divided Security Council.
Emphasizing a commitment to addressing pressing challenges, President Dennis Francis signalled a determined push for transformative change.
“What will unite the Nations?” This was one of the central questions UNGA President Dennis Francis posed to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in his remarks on priorities for the resumed 78th session. Outlining a vision for a more peaceful, prosperous, progressive, and sustainable world for all, he highlighted the Summit of the Future as “the pivotal event of 2024” that will gather world leaders to forge “a new global consensus on how to better deliver for people and planet.”
Stressing the need to “reignite mutual trust and solidarity” and to “cooperate more effectively to deliver on our 2030 aspirations,” Francis said multilateralism is “our best chance for confronting today’s converging challenges,” but recognized that some of the tools in “our multilateral toolbox” require fine-tuning.
He identified the Summit of the Future as a priority to supercharge SDG implementation, “adapt our systems for good governance and the efficient delivery of global public goods,” and “have a meaningful dialogue with relevant stakeholders with a view to fixing the international financial architecture.”
Emphasizing that the Summit must be seen as the first step in rethinking and reinvigorating global cooperation by 2030 and beyond, the UNGA President said its outcome – the Pact for the Future – must be easily understood by the global public, as “its success lies in its reach, its recognition, and its inclusive results.” He also looked forward to the outcomes of the parallel talks on the Declaration of Future Generations and the Global Digital Compact.
The UNGA President then reminded delegates that peace must be the foundation and the ultimate goal of any collective efforts. Highlighting the importance of achieving UN system-wide coherence in this regard, he welcomed the ongoing intergovernmental processes to revitalize the work of the General Assembly, to strengthen the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and to reform the Security Council.
Francis looked forward to convening an inaugural Sustainability Week in April and said it will “bring into sharper focus the vulnerabilities of countries in special situations.”
He welcomed the advice of the reconstituted Advisory Board on least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and SIDS to support the preparations for the Sustainability Week, as well as effective engagement in the Fourth International Conference on SIDS (SIDS4) in May and the Third UN Conference on LLDCs in June.
Highlighting the existential threats to SIDS in the face of sea level rise, he urged the Assembly to consider and adopt a draft decision to convene a high-level plenary meeting in September of 2024 on the urgent need to address this threat. Francis called for “demonstrable efforts to tackle the climate crisis and to address the multiple, interconnected environmental emergencies we face.”
The UNGA President further indicated he will convene an informal dialogue on commodity markets in April, to share experiences on economic and export diversification for commodity-dependent developing countries.
He also said he will appoint two co-facilitators to consider the final report of the High-Level Panel on the Development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) for SIDS.
Among other upcoming meetings, Francis highlighted the High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance and an ECOSOC, UNGA joint thematic event on the impacts of the 2023-2024 El Niño phenomenon.
Emphasizing his commitment to inclusive decision making, the UNGA President prioritized keeping the “digital, physical, and informational” doors of the UN open for all.
He said he will continue to engage with the youth, academia, and civil society to foster a more inclusive and effective multilateralism. Francis highlighted several opportunities for such inclusive engagement, including mandated high-level events on the role of the ombudsman and on crime prevention and sustainable development through sports.
Reminding Member States that “human rights are the canary in the coalmine – a crucial indicator of the broader health and well-being of our societies,” the UNGA President highlighted his work to promote gender equality, including activism against gender-based violence and efforts to ensure human rights of women and girls of Afghanistan “remain on our radar.”
In conclusion, Francis reiterated his commitment to engage with Member States and stakeholders “to deliver more effectively on the promise of peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.”
The UNGA President delivered remarks on his priorities for the resumed 78th session of the Assembly.
The president’s term spans the sessions of the General Assembly. For Mr. Francis, President of the 78th session of the Assembly, his term started on 5 September last year and will end on 10 September 2024.