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UN chooses Danish politician to head General Assembly

United Nations

United Nations: The UN General Assembly has elected Denmark’s Mogens Lykketoft as its president for a one-year term during which he said he would take into consideration member states’ interest in Security Council reform.

Lykketoft, who is the speaker of the Danish Parliament, will preside over the 193-member UN body’s upcoming 70th session and succeeds Uganda’s Sam Kutesa. He will begin his Presidency in September at the commencement of the 70th General Assembly session.

Addressing delegates immediately after his election here yesterday, Lykketoft, who has served both as Denmark’s Foreign and Finance Minister, declared that his presidency would be marked by a “commitment to action” towards building “a more fair and stable world” in line with the objectives set out by the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“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,” he said.

The President-elect said he would take into consideration many member states’ continuing interest in Security Council reform, particularly ahead of the selection process for the next Secretary-General. India has been pushing for a permanent seat in a reformed UNSC.

“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,” Lykketoft said.

“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,” he said.

Lykketoft, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year just as the UN marks its 70th anniversary, pointed out three priorities that, he said, would define his mandate — a commitment to action, a surge in UN efforts to cement international peace and security and a clear effort to support further progress for human rights.

Congratulating Lykketoft on his new role, Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon lauded the Danish politician for his “outstanding commitment” to development and his “great understanding of the major challenges of our times.”

Such aptitude would prove to be critical as the UN and international community are propelled towards a series of target dates for the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development initiatives and for the fight against climate change.

“This election is an annual event on the United Nations calendar –- but this year offers an extraordinary opportunity to shape history,” Ban said.

The Secretary-General said he counted on the new General Assembly President to celebrate the upcoming UN milestones –- including the organisation’s 70th anniversary — with “an even stronger commitment” to multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity.

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