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United Nations general assembly set to begin

THE United Nations general assembly opens on Tuesday with a number of issues set to dominate the General Debate.

The 78th meeting of UNGA comes against the backdrop of an ongoing war in Ukraine, new political crises in West Africa and Latin America, a lingering coronavirus, economic instability, widening inequality and fresh natural disasters in the forms of devastating earthquakes, floods and fires.

The gathering of world leaders also comes at a time when the nations of the global South are increasingly turning against what they see as the bullying behaviour of the United States and the former colonial powers through the imposition of economic sanctions and the ever-present threat of military intervention.

The attraction that more developing nations are showing to the Brics bloc — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and the decision by the body to widen its representation from January, to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia, has sent shock waves through Washington and its allies.

At the G77 plus China summit in Havana, Cuba, last weekend the Cuban leader President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the leaders of the 134 global South countries present that it was now in their hands “to change the rules of the game.”

China is not a full member of the G77 but its representative at the summit Li Xi said: “China will always be part of the family of developing countries and a member of the global South.”

The theme for this year’s General Debate will be “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating action on the 2030 agenda and its sustainable development goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”

Brazil traditionally delivers the first speech to the UNGA. President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva will reportedly make climate change the centrepiece of his remarks.

After coming to power in January Lula promised to re-establish Brazil as a global leader in the environment and to bolster the protection of the Amazon rainforest after years of deforestation.

US President Joe Biden then speaks next as the host country for the UN.

Leaders are then called to speak in an order that takes account of population and geographical balance.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres last week called the UNGA “a one-of-a-kind moment each year for leaders from every corner of the globe to not only assess the state of the world but to act for the common good.

“And action is what the world needs now.”


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