16 September 2003


Outgoing Assembly President Calls for “Far More Decisive”
Role for UN in Guiding World’s Affairs

NEW YORK, 15 September (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this afternoon strongly condemned the “atrocious and deliberate” attack on the United Nations Office in Baghdad on 29 August, as it closed its fifty-seventh session.  That attack killed 15 United Nations staff members, the largest number ever in one incident, and seven others, and wounded more than 100 persons.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, introduced by Assembly President Jan Kavan (Czech Republic), the Assembly urgently called for international cooperation to find and bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of that “vicious” act, and also called for intensified international cooperation to prevent and eradicate such acts of terrorism.  The Assembly also reaffirmed that the United Nations would continue to provide assistance to the Iraqi people.

Recognizing the selfless commitment of the United Nations staff members who serve the ideals of the United Nations around the world, the Assembly paid special tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, and his colleagues who perished in the “senseless tragedy”.

After adoption of the resolution, the representatives of Nigeria, China, Latvia and Colombia, speaking on behalf of their respective regional groupings, offered condolences to the families of the victims and stressed that the attack was an attack against the international community, which must not be left without response.  Also, the representative of Brazil paid homage to Sergio Vieira de Mello.

In closing remarks, Assembly President Jan Kavan (Czech Republic) said the United Nations hade been through a very difficult year.  He hoped that in the upcoming session, the United Nations would focus not only on Assembly matters but also on the further involvement of the United Nations in guiding the world’s affairs.  He said the role of the United Nations should be far more decisive than it had been in recent times.  The United Nations should, therefore, implement major reform.  He hoped that, some time in the not too distant future, it would reflect both the needs and the geopolitical situation of the beginning of the twenty-first century.


The reform of the United Nations, he said, required not only reform within the Organization, but also a qualitative change in the attitude of Member States in dealing with reform.  The debate over Iraq had injected additional fuel into the discussion of the need for Security Council reform, but the current stalemate could only be broken if there was a major political breakthrough in the capitals of some key major States.

There was only one forum -- the General Assembly -- in which Member States could consider existing and emerging global or regional problems in their entirety, he said.  The relevance of the United Nations was, and would continue to be, judged by its actions, not by lengthy discussions, recycled speeches on irrelevant items or the indefinite postponing of decision-making.  He urged all Member States to work for the reform of the United Nation with inspiration, strong political will and sincere dedication.

(For the full text of Mr. Kavan’s statement, see Press Release GA/SM/330 of 15 September.)

The Assembly concluded consideration of 57 items on its 2003 agenda, including, but not limited to, measures to eliminate terrorism; financing of various United Nations Missions; the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East; the situation in Afghanistan; matters related to the International Criminal Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; and follow-up to outcomes of its special sessions, and transported 49 of them to the fifty-eighth session.  As certain peacekeeping missions had come to an end, they would not be included in next session’s agenda.

Also this afternoon, the Assembly’s President introduced a note on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/57/861) which summarized achievements in that regard, including regularization of the dates of opening and general debate of future regular sessions, convening of Assembly panels on “Afghanistan: one year later” and “The role of civil society in prevention of armed conflict”, and clustering inter-linked agenda items.

The Assembly accredited to the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development (New York, 29-30 October) the intergovernmental organizations Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC), Latin American Reserve Fund (LARF), and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).  It also accredited the following business entities/organizations:  Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC); African Business Round Table (ABR); Securities Industry Association (SIA); Kleiman International Consultants, Inc.; Pateli Zambia, Ltd.; and Dexia Credit Local.

The Assembly further took note of the Report of the Open-ended Working Group to consider the objectives and agenda, including the possible establishment of the preparatory committee for the fourth special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament (document A/57/848), which noted that the Working Group had not reached consensus on objectives and agenda for such a special Assembly session.

In other matters, the Assembly appointed Thomas Repash, currently Deputy Counsellor at the United States Mission, as a member of the United Nations Staff Pension Committee to fill the remainder of the term of office of Susan McLurg, which would expire on 31 December 2004.


The Assembly was informed that Djibouti and Kyrgyzstan had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

The fifty-seventh session closed with one minute of silence.

The opening of the Assembly’s fifty-eighth session will take place tomorrow, 16 September, at 3 p.m.

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