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66th General Assembly of the United Nations

The 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly began on 13 September in New York.

The General Assembly’s 2011 general debate, during which Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers discuss UN issues, will take place from 21 to 27 September 2011. In addition, the following special events are planned for the opening week of the General Assembly:

  • the high-level meeting on combating desertification and drought (20 September)
  • the high-level meeting on health risks posed by non-communicable diseases and their effects on development (19  20 September)
  • a meeting at the invitation of the Presidents of Mexico and South Africa at the Head of State and Government level in order to prepare for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban (20 September).
  • the high-level meeting in honour of the tenth anniversary of the World Conference against Racism in Durban (22 September)
  • a summit meeting on the current famine crisis in the Horn of Africa at the invitation of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos (24 September)
  • a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security at the invitation of the UN Secretary-General (22 September)
  • a meeting of the nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) at foreign minister level (21 September)
  • the conference held every two years on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the near future (23 September)

Like every year, the Secretary-General will open the General Assembly session with a report which reviews the past year from the perspective of the UN and sets forth his goals and intentions for the new term.

Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization (A/66/1)

Key topics

The main topics of the General Assembly session will be:

  • Development issues and achieving the Millennium Development Goals
  • The environment, climate change and sustainability
  • Food security
  • The role of mediation in peaceful conflict resolution
  • Rebuilding and strengthening fragile and post-conflict states
  • Disarmament and non-proliferation
  • Reforming the United Nations, including reforming the Security Council, revitalizing the General Assembly and reaffirming the key role of the United Nations in global governance
  • Protecting human rights and strengthening the UN human rights protection system

Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations, was elected President of the 66th session of the General Assembly on 22 June 2011. Nasser has been serving as his country’s Ambassador to the United Nations since 1998. From 2009 to 2010 he chaired the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee. He previously represented Qatar during the country’s term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council (2006-2007), chaired the Group of 77 at the United Nations in 2004, and served as Vice-President of the 57th session of the General Assembly (2002-2003).

Curriculum vitae of Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (PDF, 35 KB)

General Assembly in New York

General Assembly in New York
© picture-alliance/dpa

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General Assembly in New York

General Assembly in New York

General Assembly in New York

European Union priorities

The EU decides on a comprehensive list of priorities for each General Assembly.

As main priorities for the 66th General Assembly, the EU will continue to focus on strengthening the United Nations and achieving the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000, as well as offering the UN broad-ranging support in the area of peace and security.

The specific priorities listed are:

In the sphere of peace and security at the international level:

  • Generating greater synergy between peacekeeping and peacebuilding as well as expanding the role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC);
  • Developing a more operational approach to the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and supporting the UN’s mediation bodies;
  • Strengthening the role of the International Criminal Court; advocating protection of civilians;
  • Broadening efforts towards disarmament and non-proliferation; continuing negotiations for a strict, viable and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty; combating the drug trade, organized crime, terrorism and piracy; continuing the active implementation of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security as well as its follow-up resolutions; strengthening the humanitarian structures of the UN system.

In the sphere of the environment and sustainable development:

  • Implementing the pledges made at the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit and the Fourth Conference on Least Developed Countries; strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development and improving of international environmental governance; consistently taking climate change into consideration in the work of the United Nations and implementing in practice the agreements made at Cancun;
  • Participating actively in the high-level plenary session on combating desertification and drought in the context of sustainable development and eradicating poverty;
  • Advocating environmental and resource protection; pursuing a broad-based strategy for food security.

In the sphere of human rights:

  • Promoting the inclusion of human rights in all aspects of the work of the United Nations; strengthening the Human Rights Council on the basis of the findings of the review of the Council; supporting Latin American and Caribbean countries in drafting a preliminary document on the rights of children; working for the approval of the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training; consistently taking into account gender equality issues and the strengthening of women’s position in society.
  • Reforming the United Nations system, including revitalizing the General Assembly and comprehensively reforming the Security Council; effectively and efficiently administrating the financial resources of the United Nations; reviewing the Internal Justice system of the United Nations; supporting the overall coherence of the UN system (delivering as one) as well as reforming of the contributions scale for UN member states.

German interests in the 66th session of the General Assembly

Alongside the priorities pursued together with EU partners, Germany has the following focal points of its own:

  • As in past years, Germany will introduce and negotiate a resolution on Afghanistan with the aim of reaffirming the international community’s support for building up and stabilizing Afghanistan.
  • Germany seeks to strengthen disarmament efforts as well as resolutions on nuclear disarmament, conventional arms control and small arms.
  • Through the resolution “Towards global partnerships”, Germany is working towards alliances between the UN, civil society and private and public actors in pursuit of sustainable development.
  • Germany is actively engaged in the area of humanitarian aid, particularly when it comes to operations in especially difficult or dangerous situations.
  • The protection and universality of human rights, the promotion of the rule of law and support for international criminal justice remain central interests of Germany.
  • Germany continues to work for the institutional reform of the United Nations and especially for the reform of the Security Council.

Last updated 13.09.2011