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A President Meets With Civil Society

Lyudmila Aleksandrova

In an event sponsored by DPI-NGO on Friday, October 6th, the President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, met with representatives of civil society in the New York headquarters of the United Nations. It was a day of historic proportions, anticipated by many in the NGO community. In light of the 72nd UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, spent some time introducing himself and discussing some of his top priorities for the term, which included issues of peace, refugees and sustainable development which includes the SDGs. This was a great opportunity for the civil society community to become better acquainted with the newly elected president of the UN General Assembly, learn about his goals as well as share some of their concerns and future plans.

Miroslav Lajcak is currently serving as the President of the United Nations General Assembly for the September 2017 to September 2018 term. The role of the President is to preside over the UN General Assembly sessions. Miroslav Lajcak made a strong impression in the international affairs community for his zero-tolerance approach for sexual abuse and harassment by peacekeepers. Prior to being elected President of the UN General Assembly, he worked as a diplomat and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia.

One of the attendees of the event, David Kirshbaum, who is the director of the Nonviolence International-NY office, commented on the event and expressed his satisfaction with the President’s genuine, sincere and humble manner, towards the concerns of civil society. For many this was a moving and touching experience, demonstrating greater potential for collaboration between the United Nations and members of civil society.

Representatives of the civil society also had a chance to speak up about some of their major grievances and concerns. The status of civil society in global affairs was brought to the attention of the President, in particular focusing on the effort of some forces at the UN to hold back and inhibit civil society participation in world affairs.

This event carries grand implications for the future of the UN and civil society relations. It demonstrates the strides made by the UN leadership towards greater inclusion of the civil society community and other stakeholders, while simultaneously providing better opportunities for civil society to assist the United Nations in dealing with some of the most pressing global issues.

DPI-NGO is the executive link between the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the almost 2000 NGOs registered with them to help with their mission of outreach to the general public and NGOs not registered with the UN system.

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