WATCH | TT’s Dennis Francis officially takes over as President of the UN General Assembly

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WATCH | TT’s Dennis Francis officially takes over as President of the UN General Assembly

Trinidad and Tobago’s Dennis Francis is now officially the new president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Ambassador Francis took his oath of office on Tuesday and was handed the gavel by former president, Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City.

He delivered a 20-minute speech thanking the government of Trinidad and Tobago for its support throughout the process of him becoming president.

Francis touted the UN Secretary General’s ambitious proposals for reforming global systems moving beyond gross domestic product (GDP) to developing a global digital compact.

“In particular, the least developed countries, I will continue to champion efforts to enable a representative and an enabling international financial architecture. We can no longer tolerate unjust financial systems that keep countries trapped in vicious cycles of debt and deprivation,” he said.

Francis urged member nations to follow through on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which is a global framework that seeks to align financing flows and policies with economic, social, and environmental priorities.

“The General Assembly must lend its weight to enhancing financing, technology, debt sustainability and capacity building in places where development is in deficit and where assistance is most needed,” he said.

Francis said his presidency will be based on four priorities to ensure the 78th session meaningfully addresses the challenges the world currently faces. They are peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability.

The T&T national pointed to alarming global statistics that show 680 million people or eight per cent of the global population will still be facing hunger in 2030. Francis said there must be a “quantum leap” in the United Nations’ commitment to helping the most vulnerable people and communities across the world.

“All the pieces are in play for us to deliver transformational accelerated progress. We should neither dither nor delay as to do so would be at our own peril,” he added.

Francis also pledged to close the gender gap warning the international community the multilateral system must be built for the advancement and success of both men and women. He told the General Assembly, “Women and girls are systematically denied their most basic human rights, from education and employment, to equal pay and land ownership. It is time to confront the epidemic of violence against women – a virulent hate whose shadow is cast over many communities.”

The new UNGA president, who attended Boissiere RC Primary School and Woodbrook Secondary School, warned the global body begins the 78th session of the General Assembly “amid a daunting global agenda beset by a series of cascading challenges.”

He vowed to bring dignity, independence and fairness to the office.

Francis was elected president of the UN in June marking the first time that a nominee from this country has been elected UNGA President. The UNGA President presides over high-level meetings, shapes the priorities of the General Assembly and plays a crucial role in facilitating negotiations among member states.