Secretary-General Congratulates Philemon Yang of Cameroon 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-ninth session of the General Assembly, in New York today: 

I’m very pleased to join you for the election of the President of the seventy-ninth session of the General Assembly.

To President-elect Philemon Yang of Cameroon — congratulations.

The current President of this seventy-eighth session — Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago — is guiding the Assembly’s work with consummate diplomatic skill, stewardship and dedication over the present year.

He brought the needs of small island developing States to this Assembly — and so much more.

He rallied Member States around a series of issues that go to the heart of his presidency’s theme — “peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability”.

From convening the high-level meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response last September.

To the preparations for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit, which resulted in a strong show of political support for an SDG Stimulus and for reforming the global financial architecture so it better serves developing countries.

To the first-ever Sustainability Week at the General Assembly — a weeklong series of events around tourism, infrastructure, transport, energy and debt.

His steady focus on the threats of sea-level rise was evident through a series of high-level meetings and his visit to the Cook Islands for the Pacific Island Leaders Forum.

I also appreciate his leadership in advancing preparations for the Summit of the Future this September, and his tireless advocacy of gender equality and youth participation.

At every step, he championed solidarity, and brought this Assembly together at a deeply divided and troubled moment in our history.  I thank him for his advice, guidance and deep commitment to the United Nations and multilateral solutions.

As President-elect Yang arrives to lead the seventy-ninth General Assembly, he does so at a challenging moment.  Conflicts continue to rage.  Climate catastrophe is deepening.  Poverty and inequality are rife.  Mistrust and division are pulling people apart.  The Sustainable Development Goals are dramatically off-track. And developing countries are left without the support they need to invest in their people.

In the face of these challenges, we must not lose sight of our objective of a more peaceful and sustainable world.  Like his predecessor, President-elect Yang will play an important role in achieving this objective.

He brings a vital voice to this Hall.  He has a wealth of experience representing his country as a diplomat and public servant, as well as his work with the African Union and at the highest levels of Government — including as Prime Minister of Cameroon.

He is also a proud African dedicated to the future of his continent.  African countries like Cameroon are bursting with potential.  Realizing this potential requires rallying around African countries — and indeed, supporting developing countries around the world.

I look forward to working closely with him as he unites Member States around collaborative solutions that can deliver justice to Africa and to the developing world.

Across all of this important work, this Assembly and its President can count on my full support.

The United Nations General Assembly stands as a unique and vital body in a divided and troubled world, and we must all commit ourselves to its success in the time ahead.

For information media. Not an official record.