The 60th UN General Assembly opened Tuesday with the assembly's new president, Jan Eliasson, pledging "renewed energy and determination" to tackle the problems facing the world body and the world at large.
"When we go into this work, we should be reminded of two important realities. One, the expectations and dreams of our peoples for this organization. The other, the somber realities in this world that must also be felt by us in these halls," he said.
He listed terrorist attacks, poverty, disease, disarmament and nonproliferation as some of the challenges facing the international community.
"We need to reflect on why an organization which was set up to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war has been unable to prevent ethnic cleansing, mass killings and even genocide. It is time for us all to stop saying never again'," he said.
To deal with these challenges, he said, the UN must reform the way the world body functions, and the reform process is both an ongoing endeavor and urgent one. "We owe it to those we serve to ensure that our management, oversight and accountability system are of the highest possible caliber."
The opening session of the 60th General Assembly was postponed several times as negotiators from a core group of 32 countries made last-minute effort to come up with a draft for the UN summit scheduled for Wednesday.
He noted that process of working on the Outcome Document has been intense and all-consuming, and welcomed the document as a "strong basis for the process of reform to be taken forward in the 60th session."
He praised his predecessor Jean Ping for "carrying a heavy burden of responsibility with grace, warmth and humor," especially for his tireless efforts over the last few weeks.
The new president pledged efforts to translate the mandate of world leaders into action following the UN summit.
(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2005)