New York — With the United Nations (UN) having committed to attaining the aims of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including goal 5 of gender equality, it is incumbent upon the global body to ensure it elects its first ever woman secretary general, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Addressing the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) at the UN headquarters in New York, US on Wednesday, Dr Masisi drew applause from his international audience as he called for a woman to lead the global family of nations for the first time since its inception in the aftermath of World War II in 1945.
With the incumbent secretary general Mr Antonio Guterres in the second of two five-year terms until the next election for the position in 2026, and all nine who have held the post in the 78 years of the UN being male, President Masisi dared the international community to ensure a different outcome in future.
“Whereas SDG 5, which expresses the need for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, and picks representation in positions of power and leadership as one of the indicators, the UN in this regard has not done badly, except for the secretary general position. Would you not agree with me that the time is now to have a female secretary general?” Dr Masisi asked rhetorically.
Noting that at the halfway stage between the 2015 adoption of the SDGs and their planned realisation in 2030, the world was lagging behind in attaining its goals of ensuring sustainable development and a better life for all, Dr Masisi called for robust political commitment to turn the tide.
“The gravity of the challenges faced by the SDGs call us to transcend the business as usual approach. It is therefore imperative for the UN system, international financiers, the private sector and civil society to forge a collective front and refocus our efforts to swiftly propel the SDGs back on track,” the President said.
Among SDG targets, Dr Masisi called for action on climate change, through international cooperation for a comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions and ensuring effective energy production, agriculture, transportation and industry.
“Our efforts must include accelerating the uptake of renewable energy sources and investing in clean technologies. This necessitates sufficient funding to support mitigation and adaptation, particularly for developing countries,” he said.
Dr Masisi reiterated the appeal for developed countries to fulfil their pledge of providing US$100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries and to fully replenish the Global Green Fund.
On global peace and security, Dr Masisi called for a cessation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, noting that the war had triggered a global food and energy crisis.
He called for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, pronouncing Botswana’s endorsement of the engagement started by African leaders to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.
Dr Masisi further expressed concern with the recent pattern of emerging conflict in parts of Africa, the negation of constitutionalism and overthrows of government, calling for the UN to work with the African Union and regional bodies to ensure lasting peaceful solutions.
Dr Masisi also called on world leaders to commit to the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and prevention of weapons of mass destruction to ensure better prospects of world peace.