President of the UN General Assembly visits India; lays a wreath at Raj Ghat

President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, and Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj at Raj Ghat to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi on January 22, 2024, in New Delhi, India. Photo: President of General Assembly

The President of United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis, visited Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, and laid a wreath, on January 22, 2024, in New Delhi. Francis was accompanied by the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj, and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in India, Shombi Sharp.

“I feel deeply touched by the visit to Raj Ghat. It was a unique experience to feel Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual presence here. One of history’s most transformative figures, Gandhi’s philosophy has been a great source of inspiration for the world, and personally for me,” Francis noted in his message after visiting Raj Ghat.

Francis, who is on an official visit to India from January 22-26, said the world is witnessing “multiple crises and challenges globally” and as such he recalls “his [Mahatma’s] spirit and his legacy of peace and kindness, towards ourselves, each other, and our planet.”

Francis also recalled that last week at the General Assembly, he reminded of Mahatma’s visionary words “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.”

During the ongoing India visit, Francis will engage in bilateral discussions with the leadership and representatives of the Indian Government. Additionally, he will interact with civil society members, prominent think tanks, undertake field visits, and take part in events related to sustainability, multilateralism, accessibility, and digital public infrastructure, said an advisory from the office of Francis.

In New Delhi, Francis will engage in a bilateral meeting with India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and the conversations are anticipated to center around the priorities of Francis, geopolitical tensions, and India’s role at the United Nations. He will also extend an invitation to Jaishankar to join the inaugural Sustainability Week from April 15-19, in New York, and discuss the upcoming Summit of the Future, scheduled to take place in September in New York.

The Sustainability Week will focus on “themes in selected sectors, namely tourism, transport, energy and infrastructure – as well as a signature event on debt sustainability, which of course is a major concern to the members of the G77,” said Francis at the opening of the Third South Summit in Kampala, Uganda, on January 21st. “Sustainability Week will build on the 2023 SDG Summit and seek to accelerate our path to 2030, in order to achieve the promise of the SDGs, as well as that of the Paris Agreement.”

Francis is also set to engage in various public gatherings, including delivering a speech at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi centered around the theme of his Presidency: “Peace, Progress, Prosperity, and Sustainability.” Additionally, he will share insights on Digital Public Infrastructure during an event, emphasizing India’s leadership in advocating for the Global South’s interests and discussing ongoing initiatives to bridge the digital gap.

He will also travel to Jaipur in Rajasthan, and is expected to commend efforts of an Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to offering affordable and easily accessible prosthetic limbs. In addition, he will also engage in meetings with senior officials of the state government.

Later, Francis will visit Mumbai to engage in a Fireside Chat hosted by a think tank on “New Orientation for Reformed Multilateralism.” He will also meet with officials of the National Stock Exchange and will participate in India’s 75th Republic Day Celebrations while in Mumbai.

Francis, who is accompanied by his Chef de Cabinet, Special Advisor on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Sustainable Development Advisor, and Communications Advisor will meet the UN Country Team led by Sharp and will commend efforts of the United Nations in India.



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