Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Opens in a Changed International Climate

Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Opens in a Changed International Climate

Article excerpt

In his 6 September report on the state of the Organization (A/46/1), the Secretary-General stressed that the UN had kept pace with the year's historic change. But the concern that Charter principles should govern the emerging international order continued. The UN's effectiveness could no longer be in doubt.

However, he went on, there was still "a dappled international landscape, with large spots of threatened trouble and incipient conflict". The UN, if supported by the generality of its membership, "can help purge international relations of the lethal elements that lead to violent hostility between States or cause a pervasive sense of insecurity".

Samir S. Shihabi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, after his election as the forty-sixth Assembly President on 17 September, told Assembly delegations that Member States "have a historic duty to support the General Assembly in playing its full role as a true representative of cooperation among all nations on the basis of sovereign equality and the sharing of responsibility".

The election was conducted by secret ballot. Other candidates were Michael Somare, Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Abdalla Saleh Al-Ashtal, Yemen's Permanent Representative to the UN. Mr. Shihabi received 83 votes, Mr. Somare received 47 and Mr. Al-Ashtal garnered 20.

In an opening address, Mr. Shihabi said the respect for the UN Charter and the application of its rules by the UN and its organs were the best guarantees for the future of the world. They were also "the best panacea for the world's shortcomings and its political, economic and social ills". He stressed that Member States had to support "the seriuos endeavour to reduce the painful economic imbalance" between individuals and nations, so that per capita income in the North would no longer be 18 times that of the South.

He told reporters on 18 September that he looked forward to "an era of tranquility and cooperation" in which cooperation would replace confrontation. The UN had been a major factor in "creating the platform for cooperation rather than confrontation", he stated.

On the afternoon of 17 September, the Assembly admitted seven new Member States, bringing the Organization's membership to 166 (see story, page 49).

Names circulate

At the top of the Assembly agenda is the appointment of a new Secretary-General of the Organization. The five Secretaries-General so far have been Trygve Lie of Norway, Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden, U Thant of Burma (now Myanmar), Kurt Waldheim of Austria and Mr. Perez de Cuellar of Peru. The normal procedure is that the Security Council nominates a candidate for a five-year term and the Assembly votes on the recommendation. Mr. Perez de Cuellar has been Secretary-General since 1 January 1982; his current term expires on 31 December 1991.

During consultations on 20 September, the Council discussed procedures to select a successor. Council President Jean-Bernard Merimee of France afterwards reported that Council members intended to start the process at the beginnning of October, "with a view to finalizing it as quickly as possible".

The African Group and the current Chairman of the Organization of African Unity have put forward six candidates: Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt, Bernard Chidzero of Zimbabwe, Kenneth Dadzie of Ghana, James Jonah of Sierra Leone, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Nguema Francois Owono of Gabon.

On 22 August, the African Group stated it hoped that the international community would give an African the opportunity to serve in that highest position of the world Organization.

But other names were also circulated: Sadruddin Aga Khan, the Secretary-General's Executive Delegate for the UN Inter-Agency Humanitarian Programme for Iraq, Kuwait and the Iraq/Iran and Iraq/Turkey border areas; Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland; Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg; UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata; former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; Philippines Foreign Minister Raul Manglapus; Netherlands Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek; Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas; former Burundi envoy to the UN Msanze Terrence; and Michel Doo Kingue, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research. …

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