Sunday September 9 2018

All set for 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

 

By Harold Acemah

On Tuesday, September 18, the 73rd regular session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 73) will convene at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA. A week later, on September 25, the Assembly will begin its annual high-level general debate at which heads of state and government address the world on international, regional and national issues.

The general debate will take place for nine consecutive days. By tradition, the first country on the list of speakers is Brazil and is followed by the US, the host country.

The theme of this year’s general debate is, ‘Making the United Nations relevant to all people: Global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful and sustainable societies’ which is pertinent for an organisation whose charter begins: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Uganda is one of many African countries which are expected to participate in the general debate.

Prior to the general debate, UNGA 73 will on September 24 hold a one-day high-level plenary meeting on “global peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela”.

The Nelson Mandela peace summit will at the end adopt a political declaration which has been the subject of negotiations among UN member states since May and has, more or less, been finalised. The UN ambassadors of Ireland and South Africa have jointly coordinated efforts to draft the political declaration.

I would like to thank the UN for the glowing tribute and singular honour accorded to Nelson Mandela, a great son of Africa and a global icon.

Mandela’s exemplary life and legacy shows clearly that despite the glaring absence of decent, honest and good leadership in Africa today, the continent has produced some world class leaders whose record will forever inspire generations of young men and women across the globe.

UN member states elected Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador as president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. The presidency of the General Assembly rotates among the five regional groups recognised by the UN which include, the African group, the Asian group and the Latin American group to which Ms Maria Garces belongs.

The bureau of the UNGA 73 includes 21 vice presidents and chairpersons of the six main committees. Of the vice presidents, six come from Africa, namely, Algeria, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, the Gambia, Namibia and the Sudan.

No wonder our neighbour to the north, Republic of South Sudan, has borrowed a leaf from the UN General Assembly. I am informed that South Sudan will soon have five vice presidents! How ridiculous and irrelevant can a country get!

The chairpersons of the main committees are as follows: First (disarmament and international security) Committee – Romania; Second (economic and financial) Committee – Guatemala; Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee – Afghanistan; Fourth (special political and decolonisation) – Liberia; Fifth (administrative and budgetary) Committee – Australia; Sixth (legal) Committee – Gabon.

The UN secretary general will submit a provisional agenda consisting of 172 items which will be considered and adopted by UNGA 73 during its organisational meetings, due to take place before the general debate begins.

The agenda items will be allocated and discussed in the plenary and concurrently by the six main committees. The issues before UNGA 73 will the subject of my opinion of next week.

The United Nations has played and continues to play a critical role in the economic, social and cultural development of Uganda and Africa. It is, therefore, in Uganda’s national interest to support fully the work of the UN here and globally.

In addition, Uganda must adhere to the world organisation’s principles and objectives which include the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms which are enshrined in the charter of the United Nations.

Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.
hacemah@gmail.com

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