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NEWS: Swiss Joseph Deiss elected next UNPGA

The UN News Centre reported in June that, “A former leader of Switzerland who was instrumental in his country joining the United Nations eight years ago was today chosen by the world body’s 192 Member States to serve as the next President of the General Assembly. Joseph Deiss, 64, who was elected this morning by acclamation, will succeed Ali Treki when he takes over the presidency in mid-September as the General Assembly’s 65th session begins. …As a former economics professor, the President-elect said he would focus the Assembly’s agenda in 2010-11 on global governance in general and economic governance, as well as Security Council reform, climate change and biodiversity, and food security.”

Deiss said, “Everything is moving faster and coming closer. New global challenges have also emerged – climate change, economic and financial crises, terrorism and global crime, extremism of all kinds – in addition to the perennial problems of war and poverty. They all require collective and urgent responses. More than ever before, we need to act together to be effective.”

SwissInfo reports that, “An economics professor before he joined the Swiss government, Deiss a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party. Critics used to describe him as drab and unexciting. No one disputed his seriousness or ability, but he was seen as lacking charisma and passion. However, those who know him say he is much less stiff than his image implies and that he has a dry sense of humour.”

A Sustainable Developments report notes, “On 26 April 2002, participants heard a lunchtime press briefing by Joseph Deiss, Swiss Federal Councilor of Foreign Affairs. He declared that protection and sustainable management of freshwater resources are among Switzerland’s priority issues for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Recognizing the existing problems of supply and quality, and noting that freshwater is a major concern for many states and NGOs, Deiss stressed that the issue deserves to be ‘placed high on the WSSD agenda.’ Switzerland’s principle objective, he said, is to set up an international platform to bring together existing initiatives, advance the global dialogue on solutions, and encourage and promote systematic communication with all stakeholders on the water issue. Deiss further elaborated on the challenges and preconditions for effective public-private partnerships, and highlighted the partnership between the Swiss Federal government and Swiss Re in coordinating this Stakeholder Dialogue.”

Vandana Shiva’s critique in Canadian Perspectives of the 2002 WSSD can be read on page 7 at http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2002/cp_winter_2002.pdf.

Deiss will take office at the opening of the 65th session of the General Assembly on September 14.