UN in General

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe | The President-elect of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid in the General Assembly hall.

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Abdulla Shahid, 76th President of the UN General Assembly, calls for hope for people around the world

“The General Assembly is the only body which has the 193 countries represented and this body, when it speaks unanimously, when it decides on a matter, that is the international conscience”. 

-- Abdulla Shahid ahead of the 76th General Assembly session.

Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives as the 76th President of the UN General Assembly wants to use his term of office to lead by example and unite people through dialogue: “It’s important that we keep talking, that we find opportunity to sit down, put our views across to each other and then we will be able to come out with resolution of issues”. 

In his remarks at the opening of the 76th session, Mr. Shahid spoke of near universal “collective anxiety” and hopelessness, not all of which was pandemic-related, urging the United Nations to be the initiator of change and the General Assembly to play a part in it. “This moment in history calls for hope above all, to demonstrate to the global population that we are aware of their plight…are listening…and are willing to work together to overcome problems,” the President said.  

Mr Shahid is a strong advocate for gender equality and considers the topics of climate change and vaccine equity a priority for his term of presidency.

Mr. Shahid has set out these priorities for his term:

  • Recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
  • Rebuilding sustainably
  • Responding to the needs of the planet
  • Respecting the rights of all
  • Revitalizing the United Nations

Mr. Shahid said he knows very well the challenges he will face: “I have been asked many many times, why did you throw your name into the hat at such a hectic time? I would say this is the best decision that I have taken.  Because it is the one opportunity where you can make a difference and one opportunity where a small country like the Maldives can make a difference. For the Maldivian people it is a great honour. It is a privilege for a Maldivian to be presiding over the General Assembly.”

Watch his speech at the opening of the 76th session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHWoKLr6byA

More information on the 76th session of the General Assembly (in English) here


The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN has 4 main purposes

  • To keep peace throughout the world;
  • To develop friendly relations among nations;
  • To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other's rights and freedoms;
  • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

The UN Charter established six principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programmes and bodies.

General Assembly: 193 Member States

Security Council: 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent

Economic and Social Council: 54 members

The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.

The Secretariat - an international staff working in duty stations around the world - carries out the diverse day-to-day work of the Organization. It services the other principal organs of the United Nations and administers the programmes and policies laid down by them. At its head is the Secretary-General, who is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council for a five-year, renewable term. António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1 January 2017.