The United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly is split into two sections. The first started on the Sept. 18 and is the official opening of the UNGA with the second being the general debate. There are a total of 193 states that make up the UNGA. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the president-elect of the U.N., announced the theme and focus of this assembly: global leadership and responsibilities for sustainable and peaceful societies. She also discussed ideas about equality and working towards making the public more aware of the U.N.’s work. This includes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has 17 overarching goals with various tasks involved in each. The first U.N. general debate began on the Sept. 25, where leaders and delegates voiced their opinions and concerns in front of the assembly.
This UNGA offered many interesting insights and meetings meant to touch on important topics. For example, on Monday, the Nelson Mandela Summit was hosted by the UNGA to honor Nelson Mandela’s centennial birth. At the meeting, they unveiled a statue of the honored man presented by South Africa’s government as recognition of his lifelong goal to ensure peace and protection of rights. On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the UNGA collected for a high-level meeting to combat widespread tuberculosis. Many more high-level meetings ensued after each event to take an individual dilemma and focus.
As with many politically concentrated gatherings, controversy and speculation were not far behind. President Donald Trump addressed the General Assembly, focusing on the rejection of globalization. One of the major points of his second speech during the assembly targeted Iran and said, “Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction.” Another part of his remarks insinuated that the Irani leaders fund terrorist organizations, a frequent comment in his foreign policy talks. President Trump also discussed reaching for new diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Throughout the duration of his speech, laughter from other U.N. delegates distracted from the actual content of his speech. This made it difficult for media outlets to focus on the analysis of his speech rather than reactions to it.
Chinese state councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed the U.N. general debate on Friday. He made points towards Chinese globalization and signaled support for the improvement of relationships between North and South Korea. The UNGA will continue the open debate until October 2. Although the U.N. focuses on longer debates, the goal of the U.N. is to give equal regard to all issues. Some famous U.N. general assemblies included the confrontation of Soviet and U.S. delegates in 1947 and U.S. President George Bush’s address of the Cuban dictatorship in 2006. The importance of the U.N. often goes under-appreciated, but the influence it has over world politics is widespread and ongoing.