John Ashe, the UNGA President
Miami Herald | Published September 25, 2013
By AARON MORRISON, Special to the Miami Herald
UNITED NATIONS — John William Ashe’s father lived to see him graduate with advanced degrees, but he left the career diplomat with sobering words.
“He said to me, now that he has seen me graduate with a Ph.D., he can die,” Ashe remembers.
Three months later, Arnold Ashe, a retired St. John’s police officer in Antigua and Barbuda, died of prostate cancer.
“At the time, I thought he was pulling my leg,” Ashe said. “I wish I had given it more thought. It’s a serious regret, actually.”
Perhaps it wouldn’t shock the elder Ashe to know the Caribbean Community has high hopes for his son, Antigua and Barbuda’s permanent representative to the United Nations and the new president of the General Assembly’s 68th session, which began hearing from world leaders this week.
Ashe, 59, came to the U.N.
Ashe chose “Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!” as the working theme of his year-long presidency. Should the term go as planned, his colleagues and friends believe he’ll have set the stage for a more prominent future in global politics, one his father probably could not have imagined.
“I’m wondering what it might have been like, if this year was the year when it fell to Latin America and the Caribbean to have a Secretary-General,” said veteran diplomat Noel Sinclair, former Caricom ambassador to the U.N.
There was unanimous support among the regions 33 members for his presidential nomination in June. He was praised then for having “a mix of qualities that you would have associated with the very top of the organization,” said Sinclair.
“As far as we’re concerned, he’s one of the environmental experts
“It can’t be easy for a small island representative to attain those kinds of heights laterally in the United Nations,” John added.
Ashe was as modest in setting goals for the 68th session as he is in assessing his time at the U.N.
“There is an attraction to do lots and lots of stuff,” Ashe said. “There is also, equally, the attraction of doing a few things that could make a difference. I chose a lighter path.”
Over the next year, the new president will convene three high-level conferences, including a special event that was held Wednesday around the U.N.’s ambitious poverty eradication agenda, known as the Millennium Development Goals.
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