New York – Let us think back to September 2011, when this session of the General Assembly began. We were deep in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The global economic and financial crisis was continuing to reverse hard-won development gains and take a toll on jobs.
The transformation in the Arab world was in its early stages, creating hope and apprehension side by side.
It has been an eventful year – a period of transition, a time of tests.
The Rio+20 conference produced a solid, encouraging outcome, including agreement to launch a set of sustainable development goals and many tangible commitments that will make a difference.
This Assembly has been the venue for important discussions on eradicating poverty and easing the plight of the vulnerable.
It held an important meeting on nuclear safety and security, as well as the first-ever high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, the leading cause of deaths around the world.
You focused welcome attention on mediation, and just last week adopted a far-reaching resolution on human security,
When the Security Council was not able to act on the violence and repression in Syria, the Assembly stepped in proactively, and has maintained its vigilance.
You have also sought to promote mutual understanding and a culture of peace across the world, including through the Alliance of Civilizations. As the troubling events of recent days make clear, this must remain a priority.
The 66th session leaves a legacy of achievement, showing again the invaluable role and voice of the General Assembly as the Organization’s leading deliberative body.
I would like to thank His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his leadership and strong commitment as President of this august Assembly throughout this period of dramatic developments and complex challenges.
His extensive diplomatic experience served him well. He guided the Assembly with skill and sensitivity, and reached out to partners in civil society, academia, the business community and the philanthropic world.
He and I have had a very productive working relationship. We jointly addressed many pressing problems. We travelled together to Libya and Somalia.
I thank him for his friendship and collaboration.
In his first remarks to the Assembly as President, Ambassador Al-Nasser noted that “the sands are shifting” and that the 66th session was “our opportunity to define our place in this decisive moment in history”.
He has helped meet that challenge. Of course, the sands continue to shift. We have much work ahead.
Pressing ahead to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the agreed deadline of 2015.
Articulating a bold and inspirational post-2015 development agenda.
Sharpening the full range of our tools for peace and human rights.
And strengthening this Organization — its effectiveness, its representativeness — to cope with an era of budgetary constraint and high expectations from the people of the world.
I thank the 66th session for its contributions.
Mr. President, during your tenure as President of the General Assembly also instituted a new observance on the UN calendar: the International Day of Happiness. Let us hope that through our work, including in the new session that begins tomorrow, we can turn that aspiration into reality.