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Statement by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, on behalf of WEOG Member States, at the Plenary Meeting in Commemoration of the First Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Mr. President,

On behalf of the WEOG Member States, let me thank you at the outset for convening this plenary meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the historical first meeting of this august body.

It is always useful, in particular at the beginning of a new year, to take a moment to look back at what has been achieved and to draw inspiration and motivation to tackle the challenges ahead of us.

As the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations, the General Assembly plays a pivotal role in delivering the three main purposes of the Charter and giving them coherence: peace and security, development, human rights. As an organ in which each Member State has an equal right to participate, the Assembly provides a unique and democratic forum for multilateral discussion on the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter and an essential platform to shape effective multilateralism.

Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of our Organization by achieving landmark steps to advance sustainable development and to fight climate change. The 2030 Agenda, its 17 Goals and 169 targets are an ambitious and important accomplishment. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is the framework for financing for development. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction addresses the issue of resilience. The landmark Paris Agreement on climate change is a further triumph for multilateralism.

These achievements can pave the way toward sustainable development and demonstrate the results we can obtain when we work together constructively.

2015 ended on a promising note. The adoption of the Security Council resolutions in support of a political agreement in Libya, on a political process in Syria and combating the funding of ISIL and other terrorist organizations, as well as the resolution on humanitarian access are important signs of a renewed spirit of cooperation among Member States.

As we enter 2016, let me highlight one issue that was on the agenda “as an urgent matter” when the representatives of fifty-one Nations met in London on January 10 1946: an item that was then termed “the problem of refugees”.

The number of refugees and displaced persons in the world today is the highest since World War II. We need a new global compact on human mobility that looks at the issue from all sides: ending and preventing conflicts, including increased involvement of women in peace processes; addressing the root causes; upholding human rights and the rights of refugees; fighting human trafficking and smuggling networks. The World Humanitarian Summit in May and the Summit on migration in September will present us with an opportunity to tackle these issues that we cannot miss.

Mr. President,

The WEOG Member States look forward to the upcoming three high level thematic debates you have announced as a way to advance this Session’s agenda, as well as to the special session on drugs and to the high level meeting on HIV/AIDS.  As always, the member states of the Western Europe and Other States Group commit to engaging constructively in the preparation of these meetings as well as in the overall work of the General Assembly.  By doing so, we believe that we are honouring our duty “to identify further ways to enhance the role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency of the Assembly” for the purposes of its revitalization. We welcome your efforts to increase transparency and accountability within the General Assembly and encourage you to continue to institutionalise these measures. In this spirit, we welcome the recent joint letter by the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council to start the process of soliciting candidates for the position of Secretary-General and look forward to the involvement of the broader membership in the selection process.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by congratulating you on another 70th anniversary – that is, your Birthday that you have just celebrated this past Saturday. Happy Birthday on behalf of the entire Group.

Thank you.