Fiji Assumes Presidency Of United Nations General Assembly

Ambassador Peter Thomson leads 71st Session in New York

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 15, 2016) – Fiji's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson, has formally assumed the mantle of President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Thomson took his oath of office in New York yesterday, promising to seek meaningful progress towards global Sustainable Development Goals.

He also invited his granddaughters, Grace, 5, and Mirabelle, 7, up to the stage asking UN representatives to think of what kind of world they were giving future generations.

"Will it be a world where the projected loss of biodiversity on land and sea severely limits the possibilities of life, where atmospheric levels of CO2 have gone well beyond the 1.5-2 degrees threshold thereby imperilling humanity's place on this planet?" he said in clear reference to the harsh realities surrounding Pacific countries.

"Or will it be the world we envisage in the 2030 agenda, a world of planetary prosperity, in which the scourge of extreme poverty has been eradicated, food security and healthy lives are enabled, water and sanitation provided to all with peaceful, inclusive, just, well governed societies, where women and girls are empowered, cities and settlements are safe and resilient, and quality education is equitable and inclusive."

Transparency was a hallmark of his predecessor's, Mogen Lykketoft, time as president and Mr Thomson said this would continue during his tenure.

"In addition to upholding the principles of transparency and inclusiveness during this 71st session, I will seek to give greater prominence to ethics in the work of the United Nations.

"The 71st session will only be fulfilling if at its end we can be assured real progress is underway on each of the goals, that our faith and hope in progress is not misplaced, and that a better world will be at hand when the year 2030 rolls around," he said."

Spokesman for the UN secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, said the Secretary-General welcomed the release of the representatives of political parties, trade unions and civil society who had been detained over their participation in a discussion on constitutional issues.

"He urges the Government of Fiji to fully respect and protect the rights of freedom of opinion, expression, and association and create an atmosphere conducive to the exercise of these rights, which are fundamental to democracy," he said.

Fiji Times Online.
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