|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by General Assembly President
At a Headquarters press conference today, Assembly President John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) welcomed civil society’s participation in determining the post-2015 development agenda as the “new norm”, and highlighted, among other changes, steps towards a new openness during the sixty-eighth General Assembly session.
He observed that at the morning’s opening session of the High-Level Meeting on Migration and Development, aside from the Secretary General, himself and the President of the Economic and Social Council, all speakers came from civil society. That illustrated a greater partnership unfolding between Member States and civil society in addressing important and pressing issues that concerned all stakeholders. Another departure from past meetings was the adoption of an outcome document at the start of the meeting, ensuring that what was in store was available from the outset.
In response to a number of questions on how the sustainable development goals would be determined and how individual Member States could advance specific goals for inclusion, Mr. Ashe explained that there was a separate intergovernmental process, co-facilitated by the Ambassadors of Kenya and Hungary. Member States had full opportunities to make proposals, with negotiations set to start next February.
He added that both the Sustainable Development Goals Group and the group dealing with long-term financing were to conclude their work next September, feeding into a process that would commence during the sixty-ninth session, and ultimately lead to the post-2015 development agenda.
Responding to a question on the “push-pull” dynamic between civil society demands and what Member States might ask for, Mr. Ashe said “It’s a good thing […] to have this push and pull, because if we didn’t, the gains that we see civil society now making probably would not have occurred by natural evolution.”
Although it was appropriate for civil society to want more, he also pointed out that such needs did not translate into another party being obligated to fulfil that need. In that manner, “we arrive, as we did in the case of the migration issue, at a happy medium,” he said.
He also said that he would be hosting a high-level event on the post-2015 development agenda where civil society was being specifically invited to give its views. As far as he could recall, such an event had not happened before. At Rio+20, Member States had realized it was not possible for them to do it all by themselves. Participation of all stakeholders was needed, particularly on development questions. Civil society, the ultimate beneficiaries, ought to help define any universal development agenda.
When asked about the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) call for reparations for slavery in the Caribbean, Mr. Ashe said that while that was not a new issue, there were delegations trying to move it forward. How it evolved remained to be seen.
Responding to a question on progress in Security Council reform, Mr. Ashe said that the issue had moved from the working group to intergovernmental negotiations. That group would meet during October, and the question should be able to be answered by mid-September of next year.
When asked how the events of the last ten days had differed from previous sessions, Mr. Ashe said that what was remarkable was that, despite the issues and problems countries were facing, most Member States had heeded his request to address the theme. They had commended that choice and had pledged their cooperation.
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