Mogens Lykketoft has been a steady presence in Danish politics since 1981 and will next year assume the post of president of the UN General Assembly. Photo: Linda Kastrup/Scanpix
Mogens Lykketoft, a veteran Social Democrat and the current speaker of parliament, will replace Uganda’s Sam Kutesa in September 2015 as the president of the UN General Assembly.
Lykketoft announced on Thursday that he has been put forth as the only candidate for the position and said that he looks forward to filling the post.
“It will be an exciting, but also complicated, assignment,” he told TV2 News.
“I will enter the post with the approach that the United Nations is important, especially for a small country like Denmark, but also of course with an understanding that the big questions on war and peace are not determined at the General Assembly, but rather in the Security Council,” he added.
The president of the General Assembly holds the position for one year and the presidency rotates between the UN’s five geographic groups: Africa, Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
The WEOG last held the position in 2010, when Jospeh Deiss of Switzerland presided over the General Assembly. Both Sweden (2005) and Norway (1970) have held the position before, but Lykketoft will become the first ever Danish president when the UN General Assembly’s 70th session gets underway.
The Danish government has been angling for the 68-year-old Lykketoft to get the post since March 2013. The well-respected Social Democrat has been an MP since 1981 and has at various times served as Denmark’s tax minister, finance minister and foreign minister.
One of his first assignments as president will be to oversee a UN top meeting on sustainability shortly after assuming his post.
“We need to get the replacement for the UN’s 2015 goals in place, including how to most effectively and efficiently fight global poverty and inequality,” he told TV2 News.
Despite the assignment on a much larger stage, Lykketoft plans to remain active in Danish politics. He said that he would run for re-election in the next parliamentary election, which must be called no later than September 2015, and would request a leave of absence to cover his time at the head of the UN General Assembly should he win.
Over the summer, another prominent Danish politician, Christian Friis Bach, left Copenhagen for the UN. Bach was named the head of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), becoming the highest-placed Danish official within the UN.