Qatari diplomat elected as President of next session of General Assembly

By United Nations

An experienced Qatari diplomat who has served as his country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations for more than a decade was today chosen by the world body's 192 Member States to be the next President of the General Assembly.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, 57, who was elected this afternoon by acclamation, will succeed Joseph Deiss of Switzerland when he takes over the presidency in mid-September as the 66th session of the General Assembly begins.

Accepting the post with “great honour,” Mr. Al-Nasser said he was becoming President at a time when the world is facing “enormous political, social, economic and environmental challenges.

“Not a month goes by that we do not hear about a natural or a man-made disaster and the subsequent food, security, health and education crises that follow inevitably. At the same time, there are still people who are living under occupation and oppression, who are yearning for freedom and dignity,” he added.

“Add to that human rights and peacekeeping operations, as well as issues of sustainable development, the concerns of the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island States, the eradication of poverty, South-South cooperation, financing for development… the culture of peace, mediation, disarmament, combating international terrorism, system-wide coherence, the scale of assessments for the distribution of contributions to the United Nations, as well as many organizational and administrative and other sensitive issues.”

The President-elect has proposed that “the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means” serve as the theme for the high-level debate slated to be held at the opening of the Assembly's next session.

He pledged also to try to work as a bridge between countries rich and poor to help build consensus on key issues such as hunger, poverty, terrorism and climate change.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Mr. Al-Nasser on his election, noting that he has long been a supporter of the General Assembly.

“As you once said: 'An enduring characteristic of this Organization is that – irrespective of the politic al and practical changes – the General Assembly remains its most inclusive body',” Mr. Ban said.

He also lauded the efforts of the President-elect on a range of issues, including the 'responsibility to protect' concept, human security and the green economy.

A Qatari diplomat since November 1972, Mr. Al-Nasser has served in postings for his Government in Beirut, Islamabad and Dubai among others. His longest posting has been in New York.

Mr. Al-Nasser has been Qatar's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York since September 1998 and during that period he has served as Chairman of the so-called Group of 77 and China at the UN, as well as a stint in 2002-03 as Vice- President of the General Assembly and a separate stint as President of the Security Council in December 2006.