by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- The just concluded General Debate of the UN General Assembly showed that the United Nations can play a central role in promoting peace and development in the world, Vuk Jeremic, president of the current General Assembly session, told Xinhua on Thursday.
"I think it was a successful debate," the president said in an interview with Xinhua. "Over 100 heads of state and government participated, (as well as) 70 deputy prime ministers or ministers of foreign affairs."
The president's statement was supported by senior diplomats from such countries as Brazil, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Italy, Switzerland and Nicaragua, who said that the president has conducted the General Debate in a professional manner, and Jeremic's successful performance marks a very good start of the new UNGA session, which will run through September 2013, UN officials told Xinhua.
Most of 193 UN member states, during the General Debate, which kicked off here on Sept. 25, have expressed their confidence that with Jeremic's ability and experience, the former Serbian foreign minister will successfully fulfill his mission at the helm of the General Assembly.
This is the president's first interview with an international news organization since he officially assumed the GA presidency as the new Assembly session opened here on Sept. 18.
PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
During the week-long debate that ended Monday, representatives from UN member states touched upon global hotspots, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change and sustainable development.
"There were a number of interesting mentions by a number of world leaders," Jeremic said. "Mostly they talked about the situation in the Middle East, but they also talked about the current state of the world economy and issues related to economic governance... world economic governance."
At the debate, speakers after speakers took the floor to voice their concerns about the stalled peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians, the ongoing conflict in Syria and the economic difficulties in the developing world.
"So, issues related to security in the context of the Middle East and issues related to the world economy were the two most important families of issues that were debated in the General Debate," said the president.
With the successful conclusion of the week-long debate, Jeremic said, "I think now more work is in front of us, and we need actually fulfill the agenda and follow up in line with the strategic instructions that we received from world leaders during the General Debate."
During his 12-month presidency, Jeremic said that he will do everything to revitalize the assembly, which is the main deliberative organ of the world body.
"The issue of revitalization of the General Assembly is indeed one of the most critical issues that this organization is facing," he said.
The assembly is the most representative organ of the United Nations, he said. "I think that it should be given more prominence in the conduct of the world discourse and debate in terms of world action."
"Problem number one is the world economic governance and the world's debate on world economic governance," he said, adding that he has already proposed the creation of a consultative mechanism between the Group of 20 largest economies and the rest of the world.
"We see the General Assembly to be at the center of this consultative mechanism between the richest countries of the world and the rest of the world."
The General Assembly was tasked by world leaders in Rio de Janeiro this June to do follow-up work on the the UN conference on sustainable development, also known as the Rio+20.
However, the Rio+20 follow-up action faces an uphill task as the sustainability of developing countries was weakened due to the global economic crisis, climate change, and lack of fund and technology.
"If we are successful, then we will have given the General Assembly a new weight and a new meaning," he said.
Sustainable development is conducive to the prevention of conflict in the world at large, Jeremic said.
"I think that one of the most important strategic tools at the disposal of the international community is development -- development carried out in this world of economic challenges in a sustainable way," he said.
"So sustainable development comes as a natural follow-up to the millennium development goals. It is a strategic tool of conflict prevention."
Meanwhile, the president said the assembly will be likely to discuss the Palestinian bid for UN recognition as a non-member state in November.
"There will be a significant discussion ... with regard to what should be the status of the Palestinian authority inside the General Assembly, it looks like it is going to come before the end of this year," he said.
Both the United States and Israel oppose the Palestinian bid for full UN membership, which Palestine presented to the secretary-general last year, and demand the Palestinians resolve the conflict with Israel through direct peace negotiations.
Direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis has witnessed little progress since it broke down in October 2010 due to Israel's settlement activities in occupied territories.
Palestine won membership last year in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization despite strong opposition from the United States and Israel.
On the assembly's ties with the Security Council, the most powerful UN body, Jeremic said the two should collaborate closely.
"The Security Council has its prerogatives. The General Assembly has its own, but I think it is important to make sure the prerogatives and actions of the General Assembly and the Security Council end up being mutually reinforcing with respect to each other, rather than to be at cross purposes of each other," he said.
"There is only one organization that is truly universal in the world, that is the United Nations," he said. "So I think that it is very important we cooperate inside the UN in a way we do not make things more difficult for ourselves or worst."
CLOSER CHINA-UN TIES
Jeremic stressed the importance of China in UN affairs.
He visited China in July as the president-elect of the 67th GA session and the Serbian foreign minister, and met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Beijing, the Chinese capital.
During the meeting, "we went through all of the issues that are of relevance to China and the UN," he said. "I understand very well now after this visit to China, the views and priorities of China in the multilateral arena."
"China is one of the pillars of the UN," he said. "One of the most important players in the world today and I think it is very important for me to get a full grasp of the Chinese world view."