During the closing ceremony of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session on Monday, the UN chief lauded the “skills, vision and dedication” of the Assembly’s outgoing President.
“The accomplishments of the last year would not have been possible without…Abdulla Shahid,” said Secretary-General António Guterres.
“Despite the unprecedented times, he gathered Member States together in common cause”.
Like the previous one, this session was marked by a series of deepening challenges, he told the participants, citing rising prices, growing food insecurity and “the gathering shadows of a global recession”.
The UN chief continued, citing “a global pandemic that refused to be defeated – and the emergence of another health emergency in monkeypox – and deadly heatwaves, storms, floods and other natural disasters”.
Meanwhile, every day ferocious conflicts continue to put millions of lives in jeopardy.
He gave examples of deepening poverty, inequality that continues to impede recovery and development, and “a morally bankrupt global financial system” that penalizes developing countries and blocks their path to sustainable recovery along with a climate emergency “that is – literally – setting our planet on fire”.
As the Assembly worked over last year to address these challenges, the top UN official acknowledged Mr. Shahid’s steady hand and “enormous skill”.
During unprecedented times, he brought “fresh vision to issues like gender equality, climate action and the unique perspective of small island States”.
Moreover, Mr. Guterres praised the outgoing President as being “invaluable” during the first year of the Our Common Agenda report – a blueprint for global cooperation and reinvigorated multilateralism – by facilitating Member State consultations, which “paved the path to progress”.
“His ‘presidency of hope’ delivered exactly that – hope that we can come together and face the challenges before us, in solidarity,” said the UN chief, thanking Mr. Shahid for his “strong stewardship”.
The Secretary-General looked forward to working with Csaba Kőrösi, the new Assembly President, as he carries forward Mr. Shahid’s “spirit of cooperation and hope” during the 77th session.
Noting that the road ahead will be “challenging and unpredictable,” he said that “the coming session will continue to test the multilateral system like never before. And it will continue to test cohesion and trust among Member States”.
However, the UN’s top official assured that by using diplomacy, negotiation and compromise – “the tools of our trade” – the UN can “continue supporting people and communities around the world”.
“We can pave the way to a better, more peaceful future for all people,” he attested, “And we can renew faith in the United Nations and the multilateral system, which remain humanity’s best hope”.
Before congratulating Mr. Kőrösi, the UN chief again recognized President Shahid for his vision and “tireless dedication” to the Organization, multilateralism, and the General Assembly.
He also thanked the Member States “for coming together during these unprecedented times”.
In welcoming the President of the Assembly’s 77th session, the Secretary-General looked forward to collaborating closely with him on the world’s many challenges and solutions to address them.
“The coming year will be another difficult one. But the United Nations was made for moments like this,” he said, explaining the need to marshal global co-operation from Government halls to business boardrooms to UN conference rooms.
Mr. Guterres underscored the need for co-operation to: rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and put progress back on track, urgently; reform a morally bankrupt global financial system, and help developing countries access the financing and debt relief they need; reverse the climate crisis and ambitious support for developing countries to make this shift and to adapt; and heal the divisions scarring our world and build peace.
“As we close this session and look ahead to the next, let us all renew our commitment to co-operation, and the eternal tools of diplomacy, dialogue and debate,” he concluded. “Let’s work as one to forge a better, more peaceful future for all”.
In delivering his final speech as Assembly President, Mr. Shahid spoke about the “unprecedented journey” of his presidency of challenges and triumphs; twists and turns; and laughter and friendship.
He described it as “a journey of renewed hope,” that would have been impossible “without the support, the friendship, and the guidance of all Member States”.
I thank you, dear Ambassadors. You made me feel like part of the family from day one. Despite the difficult times we have endured, we have celebrated many occasions over the past year. We celebrated unity, camaraderie, and hope, together, as a family.
The outgoing Assembly President urged those present to “not lose hope and give into cynicism” or “turn our backs on those who look to us at the United Nations for solutions”.
“Let us use the instruments at our disposal to secure global peace and justice…[and] tell the next generation that their aspirations, their futures, their planet, are worth fighting for,” he underscored.
“We owe it to ourselves, to our peers, to our children, to our grandchildren, to humanity, to choose hope”.
He welcomed President-elect Csaba Korosi and wish him “the very best,” in leading the 77th session.