UN General Assembly starts its annual debate

Updated: 2013-09-24 23:13


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UNITED NATIONS-- The 68th session of the UN General Assembly began its annual general debate here Tuesday.

More than 130 heads of state, deputy prime ministers, foreign ministers and other high-ranking officials will address the conference.

UN General Assembly starts its annual debate

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the opening of the General Debate of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, on Sept. 24, 2013. The 68th session of the UN General Assembly began its annual general debate here Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

"We come together not to preserve the status quo, but to drive our world forward," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech to the debate.

While noting that the current era was one of wondrous opportunity, he said that the pressures on the planet and people are building. Young people are without jobs; the world' s climate is warming; and scattered conflicts remained unresolved, he said.

"2015 is the year by which we have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," he said, adding that it is also the year in which the international community will adopt a new development agenda.

The UN chief stressed that the MDGs captured the imagination, generated remarkable gains and beat back doubts about development itself. "Yet on some goals, we lag badly," he said, noting that inequality is growing, and too many people face exploitation - from the fields to the factory floor.

"A new development agenda must be as inspiring as the MDGs, but it must go further," Ban declared, urging a universal framework with ending poverty as a top priority, sustainable development at its core and governance as its glue.

Moreover, the rights of women and girls must be at the heart of all such efforts, he continued, calling for the 21st century to be the century of women.

Turning to the conflict in Syria, the secretary-general urged the member states to bring the parties to the negotiating table to end nearly three years of bloodshed.

"Military victory is an illusion. The only answer is a political settlement," he noted.

In addition, Ban called on the member states to take bold steps and work together to tackle a host of concerns, including a new climate change regime and the situation in Middle East and North Africa.