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Global food crisis, UN reform, climate change top new UN General Assembly agenda
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09:12, September 17, 2008

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The UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday its 63rd session at the UN Headquarters in New York, with its new president saying that issues of global food crisis, UN reform and climate change are among the key themes of its one-year work.

"Various crises of great scale -- economic, financial, environmental, humanitarian and legal -- are converging in the present world food crisis," said Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who was elected assembly president in June, at the opening ceremony.

"At the root of the problem of world hunger is the unequal distribution of purchasing power within and between countries," he said. "Rather than concentrate on increasing food production as the single solution, the central focus of our efforts should be on the reduction of the inequalities in our world's food production system."

During the 63rd session, the 192-member body will examine the immediate and root causes of the world food crisis, and its impact on world hunger and poverty, he said.

Taking note of the declaration of a ministerial meeting of the Nonaligned Movement held in Teheran in July, d'Escoto welcomed its call for a meeting at the highest level to deal with the theme of food security and to identify immediate and longer-term actions.

Turning to UN reform, which d'Escoto referred to as "democratization of the United Nations," he announced that a high-level dialogue on the topic will be convened in three five-day sessions, which will respectively deal with the role of international financial institutions, the revitalization of the assembly and the reform of the Security Council.

"The central and overarching objective of this sixty-third session of the General Assembly will be to democratize our United Nations," he said. "In so doing we will ensure that the United Nations maintains its place as the world's most important and indispensable organization ..."

On climate change, the former Nicaraguan foreign minister said the recent adoption of the Bali Plan of Action constitutes an important step in seeking tangible solutions to address global warming.

"This new Plan of Action does not negate the obligations defined by the Kyoto Protocol," he said. "The negotiation process on agreed long-term actions initiated in Bali must not and can not be used as a pretext" by some not to comply with their obligations and historical responsibility.

Water, terrorism and human rights, nuclear control and disarmament, human trafficking, the situation of Palestine, humanitarian assistance and gender equality are other themes, he said.

In conclusion, d'Escoto said he would like the 63rd session of the General Assembly to go down in history as the "Assembly of Frankness" for the sake of world peace and the eradication of poverty and hunger from the earth.

"The United Nations cannot effectively tackle the deep-rooted and urgent problems of the day without being clear, firm and unequivocal," he said. "The world crisis is too serious to allow for euphemisms or half measures."

The annual general debate of the General Assembly, which traditionally features statements by dozens of heads of state and government as well as ministers, will begin on Sept. 23 and conclude on Oct. 1.

The theme of the general debate, which is expected to last six working days, is "The impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world, as well as the need to democratize the United Nations."

Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations.

Comprising all the 192 members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.


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