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Jeremić in UN Candidates’ Debate

The President of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) and Serbia’s candidate for UN Secretary-General Vuk Jeremić participated in a first-of-its-kind candidates’ debate in the UN General Assembly entitled “Leading the United Nations: A Global Townhall with UN Secretary-General candidates.”
Printscreen | YouTube: Aljazeera English

Held on July 12th, 2016 before a packed audience in the UN General Assembly Hall, the two-segment debate was organized and hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft in partnership with the Al Jazeera Media Network.

The debate featured a total of ten of the twelve candidates involved in the race for the top UN post, and was comprised of two panels with five candidates participating in each one. Serbia’s candidate Vuk Jeremić appeared in the first panel along with Moldova’s Natalia Gherman, Argentina’s Susana Malcorra, Portugal’s Antonio Guterres, and Croatia’s Vesna Pusić, while the second panel featured Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, Montenegro’s Igor Lukšić, Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres, Slovenia’s Danilo Turk, and New Zealand’s Helen Clark.

Responding to questions posed by Al Jazeera’s moderators James Bays and Folly Bah Thibault, as well as the audience of member states’ representatives and government officials, the candidates covered a variety of important topics on the UN’s agenda, including conflict prevention, sustainable development, climate change, human rights, gender equality, and Security Council reform, to name but a few.

During the debate, Vuk Jeremić said that the challenges that the world faces today are global in nature. Still, there is only one organization in the world with the capacity for all nations to come together and act in a concerted manner: the United Nations. “Recently, the organization has become a synonym for failure, and that is a perception that we need to change fast,” Jeremić added. On the issue of conflict prevention, Jeremić emphasized the need for a greater allocation of resources, as well as a “new generation of stabilization missions that would have more robust rules of engagement.” He noted that he had already laid out some concrete proposals in his detailed policy platform, suggesting, for instance, the appointment of 20 percent of New York-based staff to relevant positions in the field where prevention efforts are most needed.

Addressing the issue of climate action, Serbia’s candidate said that turning the two important documents adopted in 2015 into reality—the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement—will be a principal task for the next Secretary-General. Besides pledging to ensure a consistent flow of national contributions for climate action, Jeremić said that he would also reach out to the business world to secure sustained funding.

Nearing the closing of the first segment of the debate, Jeremić talked about his plans to bridge the gender gap in the UN. “This election needs to be a turning point for women in the UN,” Jeremić said. He reiterated the commitment to appoint women to 50 percent of UN senior management positions from day one, and added that the next Secretary-General’s term will be, among other things, “about equality of women in the UN and beyond.”

In conclusion of his remarks Jeremić said that “if you think that we need here in this organization business as usual, and if you want more of the same old things, more of the same old faces, than I am clearly not your candidate. But, if you do share my hope of a rejuvenated, reinvigorated, agile, and transparent United Nations, then I ask you to support me so that we can try and together build an institution that we will feel proud to endow to future generations.”

The video of the entire debate in the General Assembly is available here.

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