Press Releases

    10 September 2002


    Assembly President Says Session Characterized
    As "Extraordinary, Unprecedented"

    NEW YORK, 9 September (UN Headquarters) -- The fifty-sixth United Nations General Assembly closed its session this afternoon, concluding consideration of the 55 remaining items on its 2002 agenda and transmitting them to the fifty-seventh Assembly, set to open tomorrow afternoon.

    In other action, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution to continue consideration of the Secretary-General's report on the prevention of armed conflict, also at its fifty-seventh session (document A/56/L.58).

    Looking back over the past year, Assembly President Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea), said words such as "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" had been used to characterize the fifty-sixth session, which had opened, tragically, in the shadow of the most atrocious acts of terrorism in history. His term as President was to have begun on 11 September, a date now etched in the memory of humankind. Following urgent consultations with the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the Assembly opened its session that very next day, adopting a resolution, which strongly condemned the terrorist attacks and called for international cooperation to eradicate the scourge of terrorism.

    He hoped that the momentum created by the debates and resolutions passed during the session could be built upon this year and in the future, toward the establishment of a more effective legal framework to root out terrorism. Highlighting some of the Assembly’s other achievements throughout the year, he noted particularly its coordination with the Security Council to restore peace and security in war-ravaged Afghanistan and to assist in its reconstruction.

    The Assembly had also steadfastly moved to further important work already begun, he continued, namely advancing the "roadmap" to development outlined by the Secretary-General in the historic 2000 Millennium Declaration. But more work was needed in several areas, particularly Security Council reform and reform of the Assembly’s work. Overall, the magnitude and intensity of the work was reflected in the numbers. The Assembly had considered 173 agenda items, 112 plenary meetings, adopted 359 resolutions and 107 decisions. It had held one special session and three rounds of a resumed special emergency session on the situation in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

    The General Assembly will convene its fifty-seventh session tomorrow at 3 p.m.

    Statement By General Assembly President

    General Assembly President, HAN SEUNG-SOO, said the magnitude and intensity of the Assembly's work were reflected in numbers, saying "We have dealt with 173 agenda items, held 112 plenary meetings, and adopted 359 resolutions and 107 decisions. We also held a special session and three rounds of a resumed emergency special session, where altogether five resolutions and nine decisions were adopted."

    In the wake of "the most atrocious acts of terrorism in history", one of the preoccupations of the Assembly had been terrorism, he said. In adopting its first resolution of the session (resolution 56/1), the Assembly strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and called for international cooperation to eradicate terrorism. It had also accelerated work for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

    The Assembly had also dealt with the question of Afghanistan, advances toward the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, Africa's development, Security Council reform and the revitalization of the General Assembly, he said.

    The President added that he had accorded particular priority to the issue of the development of Africa. African development had become one of the most daunting challenges of our times. Toward this end, a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly would be held next week on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

    He also said there were three changes of importance that would affect the future of the world body: its growing membership and changing dynamics resulting from the activities of non-state actors; its expanding role in restoring and maintaining peace; and, globalization, which had both positive and negative aspects.

    Having noted earlier that civil society had become an increasingly important partner to the United Nations in doing its work in the economic, social and other related fields, he said the dynamics of the world body had changed dramatically because of the presence of non-state actors in the field of international relations.

    During the post-Cold War era, he said the United Nations had been recharged in its work of bringing the community of nations together in pursuit of universal values and shared standards, under the broad rubric of democracy and market economy.

    Globalization, he stated, had caused issues coming before the United Nations to expand and diversify. The important challenge was to make globalization work for the benefit of all.

    He said greater hope should be placed in the work of the world body. And as the only universal body, it should be allowed to do more rather than less.

    * *** *