It is not just consolation prize for Slovakia’s FM Miroslav Lajcak

Slovakia’s FM Miroslav Lajcak was just elected President of the UN General Assembly. What is the most important President’s role, what he can do and what he cannot do inside the organization? And Lajcak’s wanted to be SeGen, is being the President of UN General Assembly a bit of a consolation prize or do you find this really important? Read few comments.

Slovakia’s FM Miroslav Lajcak. Credit http://www.mzv.sk

Sam DawsDirector, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford

The most important role of the President is to help drive consensus among the UN’s 193 diverse member states on the pressing issues facing humanity.  Past Presidents have played highly important roles in the creation of the UN sustainable development goals, in making progress on climate change, and in securing universal acceptance of need to protect civilians around the world from war crimes and other crimes against humanity.   The PGA must however work by consensus.  They cannot impose their agenda on others, but rather build on the good will that countries have to cooperate for the common good.  There is a particular opportunity this year for the PGA to help build a coalition of a wide range of actors – from states and regional organisations to business and local governments – so that there is a unified global response to addressing forced migration, ending poverty and tackling climate change.

It is certainly not a consolation prize.  As with the Secretary-General the appointment is made by the agreement of all 193 member states, and therefore demonstrates the high regard that the international community has for FM Lajcak. The post is only for one year, so it is particularly important that each President work with his or her predecessor and then their successor to ensure that what has been achieved is sustained.  FM Lajcak will also want to work closely with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in tackling the major issues of the day.

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