Meet the first Slovak president of the UN General Assembly



Mon, 11 Sep 2017 - 02:00 GMT


Mon, 11 Sep 2017 - 02:00 GMT

 Miroslav Lajčák, the UN General Assembly 72nd session president - UN Photo - Manual Elias

Miroslav Lajčák, the UN General Assembly 72nd session president - UN Photo - Manual Elias

CAIRO – 11 September 2017: In May, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elected, with majority, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia to serve as the president of its 72nd session which starts on September 12. At the time of his election, the 54-year-old Lajcak was the minister of foreign and European affairs of Slovakia.

Lajcak will succeed Fiji's former ambassador to the U.N., Peter Thomson. He is the first Slovak to hold the post that lasts for one year (September 2017 – September 2018).

Furthermore, he was a nominee to succeed Ban Ki-moon as U.N. Secretary-General in 2016, a position that went to Portugal’s Antonio Guterres.

Upon his election, the Slovak diplomat addressed the General Assembly and set out a series of priorities, including “preventive diplomacy”, responding to the global migrant crisis, defending human rights and reducing inequality. "We can do more to bring the U.N. closer to the world's citizens," said Lajcak addressing the GA.

He also identified six overarching priorities for his period including: making a difference in the lives of ordinary people; prevention and mediation for sustaining peace; migration; political momentum for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate; human rights and equality; and quality of events organized by the UNGA presidency.

Miroslav Lajčák is passionate about human rights and conflict resolution. He headed and completed an inclusive process; the first ever nationwide Strategy for Supporting and Protecting Human Rights in Slovakia, with consensus of minority and disadvantaged groups.

Professional career:

Lajack held many significant positions at the Slovakian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other governmental institutions. In 1993, he became the Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, later Director of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic.

In 1994, at the age of 31, Lajack became the youngest Slovak ambassador and the youngest ambassador posted in Japan and later to Yugoslavia, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He played a vital role in stabilizing the former Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the wars that tore the Balkans apart in the 1990s.

In 1999, he served as the assistant to the U.N. Secretary–General´s Special Envoy for the Balkans until 2001. He was also in charge of organizing the referendum on the independence of Montenegro from Yugoslavia in 2006. Later in 2007, he was appointed as the European Union (EU) special representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2009, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and he held this position until 2010. By the end of 2010, he was appointed managing director of Russia, Eastern Neighborhood and the Western Balkans in the European External Action Service.

From 2010 to 2012, he served as managing director for Europe and Central Asia in the newly-formed diplomatic service of the EU - European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels.

In 2011, he acted as the EU´s Chief Negotiator for the Association Agreements of the EU with Ukraine and with Moldova, as well as being the EU Representative in the “5+2” Talks on Transnistria Settlement. In 2012, he was appointed deputy prime minister and re-appointed minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic.

In 2016, he was elected as a member of parliament and received the sixth highest number of votes in the whole country.

Public Profile:

Lajack was born in Slovakia in 1963, and is married to a popular TV journalist and has two daughters. He graduated from Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), faculty of International Relations. Following his university studies he obtained a law degree from the Comenius University in Bratislava and a degree in Security Studies from George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany. He speaks English, Russian, German, French, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin and Bulgarian.

Lajack is active in the academic world and on social media. He gives lectures at leading international universities, and his opinions and comments are published in international media.

The 2017 GA president was awarded the Order of the Yugoslav Star, 1st Class in 2005 and the Order of Honour of the Republic of Moldova in 2014.

Lajack is a council member at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Board of Trustees at the Friends of Europe (FoE)/Les Amis de l’Europe.

Background on the election of GA president:

On a yearly basis, the UNGA member states elect a president to preside over the sessions of the GA. The presidency rotates annually between the five geographic groups: African, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other States.

It is customary that no permanent member of the UN Security Council ever serves as a GA president because of their powerful stature globally. These countries include: China, France, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Argentina is the only country that had a national elected as president of the UNGA twice; all other member states were represented once in this post.



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