JEAN PING, President of the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, is Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Gabonese Republic. His distinguished 32-year career in government has been marked by diplomatic success, notably through his contribution to the efforts of the President of Gabon, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, to restore peace and stability in Central Africa, in particular in the Republic of the Congo, Chad, the Central African Republic and Sao Tome and Principe.
A Member of Parliament since 1996, Mr. Ping has headed his country's delegation at numerous sessions of the General Assembly, as well as at international conferences and summits, including those of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank, the former Organization of African Unity (succeeded by the African Union), the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which he was President in 1993.
Mr. Ping holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne). He began his diplomatic career at UNESCO, where he was his country's Permanent Delegate from 1978 to 1984. He then served as Director of the Cabinet of the President of Gabon until 1990, when he was appointed Minister of Information. Mr. Ping held a succession of posts at the ministerial level until his appointment in 1999 as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and la Francophonie.
Leslie Palti and Horst Rutsch of the UN Chronicle spoke with Mr. Ping on 16 August 2004. The interview was originally conducted in French.
On the main challenges facing the fifty-ninth General Assembly President
I think it is important to continue the work of my predecessors, each of whom has contributed to building a better world. We are facing a number of global challenges--terrorism, poverty, HIV/AIDS, fratricidal wars, the environment and international crime. Global problems require global solutions. These issues can only be addressed with the participation of all nations. And no organization is better suited than the United Nations to address and resolve these problems; as a result, the United Nations will be increasingly addressing these fundamental challenges which threaten humanity.
This is why UN reform is so important. When it was founded in 1945, the United Nations had only 50 Member States. Today, the Organization comprises 191 countries. Moreover, since then, the world has undergone radical changes, the most important of which are the end of the cold war and the end of antagonism between blocks, and the rise of globalization. I think it is crucial to take into consideration the...