The 73rd UN General Assembly Debate

The 73rd UN General Assembly Debate
Leaders from around the world will meet in New York on September 25th for the Annual General Debate at the United Nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be attending the meeting. The General Assembly is one of...

Leaders from around the world will meet in New York on September 25th for the Annual General Debate at the United Nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be attending the meeting.

Background

The General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the United Nations, the only one in which all Member States have equal representation: one nation, one vote. All 193 Member States of the United Nations are represented in this unique forum to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the UN Charter, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc.

In September, all the Members meet in the General Assembly Hall in New York for the annual General Assembly session.

95 heads of state, 4 vice presidents, 42 heads of governments, 3 deputy prime ministers and 48 ministers will attend the UNGA high level week to address and debate the situation in Syria, Yemen and cover the full spectrum of international issues, including sustainable development, climate change, peace and security, human rights, public health concerns and gender equality.

Analysis

The United Nations 73rd session of the 193-member General Assembly will commence on September 25th 2018 with the theme being “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies". 

Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, General Assembly President, invited world leaders to comment on the “continuing relevance” of the UN and “the importance of a shared vision”. UN Chief General Antonio Guterres expressed concern that just at a time when the world needs multilateralism the most, it is under attack from many different directions. He said that he will use his meetings and other opportunities to “press for renewed commitment to a rules-based global order and to the United Nations”.

US President Donald Trump who has repeatedly expressed his dislike for the UN will address the General Assembly on September 25th, in the middle of an escalating trade war with China. Reiterating his commitment to "America First", Trump is likely to emphasize his commitment to the primacy of U.S. interests while vying with Western allies for a leverage on trade and focussing on the threat that he feels Iran poses to the Middle East and beyond.

Trump is also expected to deliver fresh warnings to Syria's Bashar al-Assad against the use of chemical weapons on civilians. The United States under Trump may have conceded ground in areas like - trade disputes with Europe, South Korea, Japan, Mexico and Canada; criticizing NATO; and withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, the Iran nuclear accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. President Trump is also scheduled to chair the Security Council for the first time on Wednesday to confront the dangers posed by North Korea's nuclear threat.

President Michel Temer of Brazil will open the UNGA debate on September 25th. Latin American leaders, the LIMA group, will formally announce that they have petitioned the International Criminal Court to conduct investigations on the Venezuelan government.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the global organization on September 29. Ms. Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi were slated to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly. However, the Indian government has called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” militant Burhan Wani.

The 73rd session will include a high-level meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on September 24; a session to renew international commitment and action for peacekeeping, a high-level side event on Violence Against LGBT Individuals; an event on Ending Tuberculosis, and a series of humanitarian-themed events, including the Yemen and South Sudan. 

There will be some notable absentees - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi won't be making the trip.

Assessment

Our assessment is that UNGA’s 73rd session will allow for the necessary dialogues to take place between countries and create improvised guidelines to protect human rights at the heart of multilateralism in the face of rising tensions and global issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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