Press Releases

9 July 2002

General Assembly Elects Jan Kavan (Czech Republic) President of Fifty-Seventh Session

Adopts Resolution Amending Rules of Procedure Governing Timing of Election of President, Other Assembly Officers

NEW YORK, 8 July (UN Headquarters) -- In two meetings held this morning, the General Assembly elected the President of its fifty-seventh session, following the adoption without a vote of an orally revised resolution amending the rules of procedure governing the timing of elections of the Assembly President and Vice-President and the Chairmen of the Main Committees. The new President will assume his role upon the opening of the fifty-seventh session on 10 September.

Jan Kavan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, was elected Assembly President by acclamation under a text that amended three rules of procedure (30, 31 and 99), in order to allow for the elections of the President, Vice-President and Chairmen of the Main Committees to take place at least three months before the opening of a session. On an exceptional basis, today's election was held less than three months before the next session.

As further consultations were needed, it was decided that the elections of the Vice-President and Chairmen of the Main Committees would take place at a later date. Under the resolution, the elections of the other officers provided for in rule 103 -- namely two Vice-Chairmen and a Rapporteur of the six Main Committees -- would be held by the end of the first week of the coming session. The newly elected officers will also assume their roles upon the opening of the fifty-seventh session on 10 September.

The newly elected President of the fifty-seventh session, Jan Kavan, was born on 17 October 1946 in London, where his father was serving as a diplomat. Mr. Kavan studied journalism at Prague's Charles University, international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and history and politics at Reading and Oxford Universities. He also taught political science and history at several United States universities and is widely published in the non-English-speaking world. Returning to Prague in November 1989, he began a political career in which he served in several parliamentary and ministerial positions, including that of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs (1998-2002). In June 2002 Mr. Kavan was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament.

Addressing the Assembly, Mr. Kavan said the text was an important achievement that would ensure a smoother transition and enable him and all future presidents to be better prepared for the demanding tasks ahead. He expressed his commitment to the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus and to the outcome of the coming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

He said he would pay special attention to the foremost task of the United Nations, namely the maintenance of peace and security, including conflict prevention and the fight against international terrorism. Together, it was possible to make the work of the Assembly more dynamic and result-oriented, the ongoing process of United Nations reform more efficient, and the entire Organization more coherent.

Current Assembly President Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea) said that today's decision had far-reaching implications. For the first time in the history of the world body, officers would be elected well in advance of the opening of a session, rather than at the beginning. It was more than a procedural modification, and it would strengthen the General Assembly by enabling its president to play his or her role much more expeditiously and expediently.

He said he had become convinced during the course of his presidency that a better way should be found for selecting and preparing the Assembly President. He reminded members that the revitalization of the Assembly was an ongoing and long-term process requiring patience and step-by-step progress.

Representatives of individual countries and regional groups of States expressed their support for the newly elected President.

In other business today, the Assembly took note of a letter dated 5 July from the Secretary-General (document A/56/999) containing a list of Member States in arrears in the payment of their financial contributions to the Organization. Members were not allowed to vote if the amount of arrears equaled or exceeded the amount of the contributions due for the preceding two years.

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