Start of the UN General Assembly in a world beleaguered by crises

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Beginning of the UN General Assembly in a world besieged by crises

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During a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 15, a minute of silence was observed to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

War in Ukraine, climatic disasters, food insecurity. In a world besieged by crises, the leaders of the planet follow one another from Tuesday on the rostrum of the General Assembly of the UN tested by deep divisions.

For nearly a week, some 150 heads of state and government from around the world will speak at this annual diplomatic high mass which resumes in person after two years disrupted by COVID- 19.

Traditionally, this first day gives pride of place to the speech of the President of the United States, who as leader of the host country of the United Nations headquarters speaks in the first. 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 on Monday, postponed his intervention to Wednesday.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will be there with an opening speech for this 77th General Assembly which will not water things down, promised his spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, referring to a painting poised, real and solution-focused in a world where geopolitical divisions put us all at risk.

We meet at a time of great peril for the world, Antonio Guterres stressed on Monday, listing conflicts and climate disasters, mistrust and division, poverty, inequality and discrimination.

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 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 wherever they point their noses in the world, hammered Monday the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley during a preliminary day focusing on education and development goals.

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

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

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 global warming 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 made the struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular those of fossil fuel producers, one of its priorities.

Tuesday must also succeed Brazilian Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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.

Even though negotiations to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are officially taking place in Vienna, the French foreign minister, for example, has not ruled out a meeting between Presidents Macron and Raïssi.

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

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