|UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Sept. 19, 2012. Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said that the upcoming annual high-level UN debate "reflects the tumultuous time" of today's world, with the deteriorating situation in Syria to be "foremost in our minds." (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said that the upcoming annual high-level UN debate "reflects the tumultuous time" of today's world, with the deteriorating situation in Syria to be "foremost in our minds."
Ban made the statement at a press conference to brief reporters on the General Debate of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, which is to open on Sept. 25 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
"This year's General Debate will be among our busiest ever," Ban said. "This reflects the tumultuous time in which we live -- a time of turmoil and transition."
"As of today, we expect 123 heads of state and government level, or high-level delegations, foreign ministers or deputy prime ministers, who will take part in the General Debate," he said.
The General Debate, held by the UN General Assembly at the beginning of its regular session every year, is often addressed by heads of state, government and foreign ministers, who express their views on the most pressing international issues.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all member states, each of which has one vote. The General Assembly's regular session begins each year on Tuesday in the third week of September, counting from the first week that contains at least one working day. The 67th General Assembly session opened on Sept. 18.
"The deteriorating situation in Syria will be foremost in our minds," Ban said. "As you know, Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi continues his diplomacy to launch a Syrian-led transition process. He met President (Bashar al-) Assad and opposition leaders and many others last week."
Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister who arrived in Syria last Thursday for a three-day visit to meet with officials from the Syrian government and the opposition alike, met with President al-Assad in Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Saturday last week. He is expected to meet with members of the UN Security Council on Monday. He is engaged in good offices on Syria on behalf of the United Nations and the Arab League.
"In parallel, and as a matter of the utmost urgency, the UN humanitarian efforts continue round the clock, in and around Syria, " he said. "We are present on the ground, with food, shelter, medicine and more. We are determined to reach people in need. "
"I urge the Syrian government and opposition to ensure access and donors to continue their generosity," he said.
On other matters, the secretary-general also touched upon high- level gatherings to be convened on the sidelines of the General Debate next week.
"A series of mini-summits and special meetings will focus on the emergency in the Sahel region, progress in Somalia, the encouraging transitions in Myanmar and Yemen, instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and relations between Sudan and South Sudan," he said
"We will also discuss the threat of nuclear terrorism and press for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test- Ban Treaty," he said.
"We are also looking forward to the first-ever high-level meeting on the rule of law," he said. "The rule of law is as important within countries as it is in the international arena. My hope is that member states will send a strong signal to the world' s people that they are serious about establishing well-functioning institutions and delivering justice."