By Geetha Tharmaratnam (ABRIDGED)

United Nations General Assembly President Harri Holkeri

Harri Holkeri, president of the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly, gave a lecture February 22, on campus. The focus of his speech was on restructuring the Assembly to become more effective and to acknowledge the use for such a body, as it has come under increasing fire from the international community for being too slow and doing too little.

Holkeri, the president of the so-called Millennium Assembly of the UN, served as Prime Minister of Finland from 1987 to 1991 and has been in domestic and international politics for over 40 years. He was given an honorary British knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in 1999 for his involvement and achievements in the Northern Ireland peace process. He succeeded Theo-Ben Gurirab, the former president of the General Assembly, who visited the University last year.

Holkeri underlined the necessity to “open the United Nations to civil society at large and to have continued and enhanced dialogue with academic communities.” He affirmed that “the United Nations system needs to be strengthened and reformed to carry out the tasks entrusted to it.” He sees the need to develop the core strengths of the agencies as part of his legacy.

Text of Speech

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