UN General Assembly kicks off with several global crises on the menu

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War in Ukraine, climate crisis, food insecurity … In a world divided by crises, the leaders of the planet succeed from Tuesday at the tribune of the General Assembly of the UN, tested by deep divisions.

From Tuesday, September 20 and for nearly a week, some 150 heads of state and government from around the world will speak at the UN General Assembly, an annual diplomatic high mass which resumes face-to-face after two years disrupted by Covid-19.

Traditionally, this first day gives pride of place to the speech of the American president who, as the leader of the country hosting the United Nations headquarters, speaks in the prime ministers. But exceptionally – as on very rare occasions in the past – this will not be the case: Joe Biden, who was at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, postponed his intervention to Wednesday.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, will be there with an opening speech for this 77th General Assembly which “will not water down things”, promised his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

“We meet at a time of great peril for the world,” said Antonio Guterres on Monday, mentioning “conflicts and climatic disasters”, “mistrust and division”, “poverty, inequality and discrimination”.

Volodymyr Zelensky on video

On the danger side, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be at the heart of this high-level diplomatic week, with an intervention on Wednesday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – by video thanks to a special authorization voted last week by the Member States – and a Security Council on Thursday at the level of foreign ministers.

But the countries of the South are increasingly annoyed that Westerners are focusing their attention on Ukraine. “We don’t just want to talk about ending the conflict in Ukraine. We want the conflicts to end in Tigray, we want the conflicts to end in Syria, we want the conflicts to end where they poke their nose in the world”, hammered the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, during an effective preliminary day on education and the development goals.

In an attempt to respond to the concerns of certain countries, Americans and Europeans are organizing a high-level meeting on food security on Tuesday, a consequence of this war from which the whole planet is suffering.

And the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who must be at the podium Tuesday in the middle of the day, will insist on the need to prevent the “fracturing” between countries of the North and the South, it is indicated at the Élysée, specifying that the Head of State is organizing a dinner on this theme with several other leaders.

Climate crisis

These tensions caused by the war in Ukraine echo the North-South resentment in the fight against climate change. Poor countries, on the front line of the devastating impacts of sanitation for which they are not responsible, are fighting in particular to ensure that rich countries finally keep their promises of financial aid.

Two months away from the UN COP27 climate conference in Egypt, it would be surprising if this climate crisis was not prominently featured in the speech of Antonio Guterres, who has made the fight to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular those of fossil fuel producers, one of its priorities.

Tuesday must also follow one another in the gallery of Brazilian Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, or even German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Macron-Raissi meeting

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is also in New York this week for his first General Assembly and the nuclear issue could once again be at the center of discussions.

Ebrahim Raïssi must in particular have a meeting on Tuesday with Emmanuel Macron, who has encouraged him in recent months during telephone interviews, to accept the conditions proposed by the Europeans to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement supposed to prevent Tehran from acquire the atomic bomb in exchange for the lifting of sanctions suffocating its economy.

This high-level week, however, has a few notable absentees, in particular Russian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

With AFP

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