Secretary-General Congratulates Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago on Being Elected General Assembly’s Next President

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the election of the President of the seventy-eighth session of the General Assembly, in New York today:

I am very pleased to join you for the election of the President of the seventy-eighth session of the General Assembly.

To the esteemed President-elect, Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago, congratulations on being elected to lead the next session.

But allow me a few words about the President of this seventy-seventh session — Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary — guided the Assembly’s work with diplomatic skill, stewardship and dedication over the past year.

His commitment to “solutions through solidarity, sustainability and science” shines through his presidency.  From ensuring a well-coordinated and ambitious United Nations Water Conference.  To advancing preparations towards the SDG Summit in September and the Summit of the Future next year.  To championing the science-based validation of sustainability investments — and so much more.

On a personal level, I will miss his advice and guidance. Our conversations together on a range of global issues never failed to enlighten.  And I am always deeply impressed by his knowledge of, and commitment to, the role and function of the United Nations.  We will miss him.

President-elect Francis arrives at a deeply challenging moment for the human family.  Conflicts and climate chaos.  Escalating poverty, hunger and inequality.  Mistrust and division.

Meanwhile, our road map to a better future — the 2030 Agenda — is in danger.  The Sustainable Development Goals are slipping out of reach.

Across all of these issues, the world looks to this Assembly to unite Member States around common solutions.  President-elect Francis brings a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge to this essential task.

In addition to his years working closely with multilateral agencies, he is also a respected negotiator and long-serving diplomat — including as his country’s longest-serving Ambassador ever.  Coming from Trinidad and Tobago, he brings a critical perspective to this Assembly.

So many of the issues we address here hit small island developing States like his the hardest.  This includes the disastrous impacts of climate change and the effects of a deeply unjust global financial system that routinely denies developing countries the debt relief and restructuring — as well as financing — they need to invest in their people.

We look forward to the President-elect carrying forward the theme of his presidency — peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability — in the year ahead, and to bringing this Assembly together to strengthen global cooperation at this difficult moment.

The United Nations General Assembly stands as a beacon of hope and unity in a world that so often lacks both.  Through dialogue and consensus-building, you are all demonstrating that we can gather around shared solutions to the challenges facing our world.

On behalf of the entire United Nations system, I wish the President-elect every success as he assumes his duties in September.  This Assembly and its President can count on my full support as we work to forge a better, more peaceful future for all.

For information media. Not an official record.