OPT: Press conference by General Assembly President

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In 66 meetings of its sixty-fourth session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 226 resolutions and 57 decisions, Ali Abdussalam Treki ( Libya), President of the 192-member body, said during an end-of-year press conference at Headquarters today.

Mr. Treki said the Assembly was now close to completing its programme of work for the first quarter, with five out of its six Main Committees having completed their work. The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to conclude tomorrow.

Beyond New York Headquarters, the Assembly had convened three meetings, he said, citing the Summit on Food Security in Rome, the High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Nairobi and the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. A host of challenges -- from development to peace and security to human rights -- would remain the focus of the Assembly's work in the year ahead, he added, noting that a high-level plenary meeting would address the urgent need to accelerate progress towards achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Turning to the reform agenda, he said the Assembly was moving forward on its own revitalization, and the first meeting of negotiations on Security Council reform had already taken place, with the next round to be held in early 2010. The Assembly was also moving towards an inclusive and open review of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.

At the midpoint of the 2005-2015 "Water for Life" International Decade, a high-level interactive dialogue on water would be held in March, he said, adding that 2010 "promises indeed to be a very exciting year with a large number of important issues that will need concerted action".

Answering questions about Security Council reform, Mr. Treki described the issue as "very complicated", but emphasized that the facilitator on the matter, Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan), was trying to achieve progress after many years in which Security Council reform had been on the Assembly's agenda. Everyone agreed on the need for reform, but there were different points of view, with African countries complaining that their region had been deprived of permanent representation. All concerned agreed on the need to correct that situation, and another round of intergovernmental negotiations would be held in January.

Asked about a request by some delegations for a document listing the positions of all Member States on Security Council reform, he said the facilitator was not willing to compile such a list until he had concluded consultations with all groups and countries. There was a need for patience and consensus.

In reply to questions about the Copenhagen Conference, he said it was clear that a majority of the country participants were not happy with the outcome. Some felt they had not been dealt with fairly, while others thought the process had not been democratic. Many felt the process had been taken away from the United Nations and that the Organization should take over once more.

However, it was a positive sign that the majority were aware of the danger posed by climate change and wished to see a binding agreement concluded, he said. The United Nations should take the lead on the complicated matter, and in the follow-up to Copenhagen. The December 2010 Conference of Parties in Mexico should see an agreement concluded.

Responding to a question about the Goldstone Report [of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in December 2008-January 2009], he said the Secretary-General had started to implement the resolution adopted by the Assembly, having written to request both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to start their investigations within three months and report back to him within that time frame.

Asked about the work of the Fifth Committee, he said that body had worked very hard, including over the weekend, and was expected to conclude by the end of tomorrow. It had made progress on the budget and agreement was near, he added, but there were still some problems with assessments.

In response to another question, he said the fight against poverty was one of the most important issues, while stressing, in reply to a related question, the need for "moral solidarity" between development partners. The September high-level meeting would be important in that regard, he said, expressing hope that the global financial crisis would not result in limiting anti-poverty programmes.

Answering a question about the role of African countries during the session, the Assembly President said all Member States, including African ones, were aware of their duty. He added that he was happy with the way in which discussions had been handled and proud of the trust that Member States had placed in him. All States had cooperated and voting had not presented any problems.

Asked his impression of the Obama Administration's attitude towards the United Nations as compared to the previous Administration, he recalled that President Barack Obama had promised better cooperation during his speech to the Assembly. The President had attended the Copenhagen Conference and the United States had become involved in the Human Rights Council. The situation was not easy for the Administration, which had to deal with Congress and the media, Mr. Treki said, recalling also that during his visit to Washington, D.C., last week, he had spoken to several members of Congress and invited some of them to the United Nations.

He went on to stress that there was awareness among members of Congress of the Organization's importance and of the need for collective action to address the world's problems. It was to be hoped that the President of the United States would have the support of the people in his cooperation with the United Nations, especially with regard to the Middle East issue.

Asked whether the Organization's policy on sexual harassment also applied to staff working in the Office of the General Assembly President, including personnel paid by his home country, Mr. Treki said the policy was applicable to all, if warranted.

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