The 73rd meeting of the UN General Assembly began on September 18 and comprises many different sorts of meetings, giving the heads of state opportunities to discuss major concerns and crises among themselves. The General Debate, in which heads of state address the Assembly, began on Tuesday, September 25. In these talks, leaders generally lay out their attitudes and hopes for the future of the UN and the world, as well as outline difficulties they see and suggestions for solving them. These are long sessions; Tuesday’s session began at 10 am, with an address by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly and only concluded at 9:10 pm, with the statement by the President of Morocco. Links to videos of these talks may be found at this link. A list of the speakers from the debates can be found here.
United States President Donald Trump began by touting his accomplishments (at one point eliciting laughter from the Assembly) and negotiations with North Korea, and reiterated his determination to contribute less to UN Peacekeeping, his disdain for the Commission on Human Rights and International Criminal Court, and his refusal to be part of any international agreement on migration or refugees. Focusing on Iran as a source of disruption and threatening more sanctions against them and against China, he repeatedly said he considers only American citizens, and accused everyone else of taking unfair advantage of the United States. He made no mention of climate change or of Russia’s incursions into other nations’ territories. Iran’s president responded to Mr. Trump’s accusations and threats by declaring it would not be moved by them.
Other leaders called for increased multinational collaboration to address climate change, migration and refugees, and the 2030 Agenda, and to end the conflicts and situations of peoples such as the people of Syria, Yemen and the Palestinians. Some called for action by the Security Council. Many declared their continued commitment to the United Nations and expressed confidence in its agencies to alleviate the current suffering.
Since September 18, U.N. agencies, such as the Security Council, Human Rights Commission, Peacebuilding Committee, Major Committees of the UN, Groups of Nations (such as the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries) and Advisory bodies have been meeting each day to address more specific issues. Please see the Partnership blog for more information during these important weeks at the United Nations.