6 March 2018

Ethiopia: 'Ethiopia Is Actively Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,' Miroslav Lajcak, UN General Assembly President

interview

Recently, the President of the United Nations General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak has paid a visit to Ethiopia. He had meetings with Ethiopian government officials and African Union authorities. The Ethiopian Herald made a short stay with him with the intention of letting him share the purpose of his visit for our readers. Excerpts:

Would you explain the purpose of your visit and its significance for Ethiopia?

I have come to Ethiopia as the President of United Nations General Assembly. My visit has basically three reasons: First, Ethiopia is a country which is very active and dedicated member of the United Nations. Currently, it is non-permanent member of the Security Council. In addition to actively participating in UN'S peace-keeping missions, the nation is effectively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

I had meetings with the President of Ethiopia and other officials to discuss Ethiopia's commitment to implement the UN agenda. Second, Addis Ababa is the seat of the Africa Union and here I had meetings with the Permanent Representative of Africa countries and with the Chairperson of African commission. We spoke the processes in which we can develop cooperation between the United Nation's and Africa Union. Third, I am also meeting with the UN families here: UN office to Africa African Union, UN country team to Ethiopia and UN Economic Commission for Africa. All these can give me the proper picture of the African continent, Ethiopia and United Nations concerning the intended cooperation.

What is the purpose of the General Assembly? What is your role as the president?

The general Assembly is the most representative organ of the United Nations. It is the only organ where all 193 members of the United Nations are present. And they all are equal and have equal voice, similar roles. These make this organ very unique. And according to the Charter, the General Assembly deals with any issue it considers important. It is also the only organ that is unlimited in the scope of its agenda.

I also travel to get feedback from the member states and to inform them what the General Assembly is undertaking and to make sure that they represent their views. There are very important processes going in the General Assembly. And one of the purposes of my visit is to discuss the priorities of the General Assembly with African and Ethiopian authorities.

Ethiopia is among the state members. How do you work with Ethiopia?

We involved every member state; but Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa which gives it a special role in the Horn of Africa where there are several challenges including issues related to peace and security. Thus, we closely work with Ethiopia in order to find solutions for these challenges. Next, Ethiopia is a very active participant in the activities organized by the United Nations. For instance, we have the Sustainable Development Goals which is the global agenda. The case of Ethiopia shows that the agenda is being implemented in Africa . I have been working closely with Ethiopia as the UN General Assembly President. Ethiopia is one of the three Africa countries on the UN Security Council that gives it the very prominent roles and voice.

How do you see Ethiopia's commitment in implementing UN's agenda?

Ethiopia has significant participation in the UN's agenda; it has active role in peace and security in the continent. It is actively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in addition to promoting good governance.

UN is undertaking certain reforms these days. How do you explain that?

The philosophy is very simple: the world is changing. The UN needs to update itself to the current circumstances. It has to be ready to provide answers to the current global challenges. This is the philosophy behind the reforms.

The UN was established in 1945 when the global situations were very different from that of today's. Over the 72 years of its existence, it has constantly been involving. Right now there are several reforms going on in it. One is the discussion about the reform of Security Council to make it more representative so that it reflects the reality of the 21st century. The second is the revitalization of the General Assembly that means the member states want the General Assembly to play active and more visible roles.

They want to strengthen the role of the General Assembly. Finally, there are three concrete reforms that represented by Secretary General António Guterres. One is addressing the peace and security architecture; Second one addressing the development and system reform and the third one addressing the management reform. All the member states discuss and decide on the final version.

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