Optimism and caution as General Assembly session opens

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a press conference on the occasion of the start of the seventieth session of the General Assembly. At left is spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Both turmoil and hope will greet the 193 Member States of the United Nations, as delegates gather for their annual session.

That’s according to the United Nations Secretary-General, who briefed the press as the General Assembly opens for its 70th session.

The UN Chief said world leaders are poised to made great progress in several critical areas during the session, including sustainable development and climate change.

Still, Mr Ban said on-going conflicts around the world demonstrate the need for greater commitment and political will from UN Member States.

Veronica Reeves reports.

The Secretary-General said the coming year “is filled with possibility”, pointing to next week’s visit by His Holiness Pope Francis as an important opportunity to unite people across all faiths.

Yet, Mr Ban lamented the numerous destructive crises unfolding around the world, including conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and South Sudan.

He drew particular attention to the plight of millions of displaced persons around the world, many of whom are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

“Brutal conflicts, breakdowns in basic governance, economic despair and other factors have generated displacements of people not seen since the Second World War. Sixty million people have fled their homes.”

The Secretary-General said the much-anticipated adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development next week represents a key achievement for the international community.

He went on to urge Member States to continue working toward a new, universal climate change agreement to be signed off on in Paris at the end of the year.

Veronica Reeves, United Nations

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