The United Nations General Assembly elected its new president on Monday through a rare secret ballot vote. The assembly chose Peter Thomson, the Permanent Representative of Fiji, to serve as President of its 71st session.
Thomson will replace Mogens Lykketoft, current President of the General Assembly, in September at the start of the 71st General Assembly session.
The Permanent Representative of Fiji beat Cyprus representative Andreas Mavroyiannis 94 to 90 in a secret ballot vote.
The General Assembly selects a president using a geographical rotation system. Regional groups put forward a candidate every year. If the group cannot come to an agreement on a nominee, a secret ballot vote is held.
This is the first time a representative of a small island developing State in the Pacific has been elected as Assembly President. Mr. Thomson said he plans to be vocal on climate change issues. He also noted that the 71st Assembly session will focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Mr. Thomson plans to bring a spirit of commitment and loyalty to the common good.
Mr. Lykketoft, current Assembly President, acknowledged Mr. Thomson’s experience in rural development matters and international affairs. He expressed his support for Mr. Thomson, but noted that there is still much work to be done in the current session, including the large movement of migrants and refugees in September.
Mr. Thomson served as Chair of the Executive Board of the UN Population Fund, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Office for Project Services. He also served as Vice President of the General Assembly from 2010 through 2011.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Mr. Thomson on his achievement and said he believes the President-elect will help the UN carry out its 2030 Agenda and reach its goals for the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The UN General Assembly is comprised of 193 Member States and meets in regular sessions that run from September through December of each year.