‘Our world is in big trouble’ . . .
The first in-person United Nations General Assembly in three years opened in New York City yesterday amid widespread pessimism about the state of global affairs, the climate crisis, and co-operation at multilateral organizations. UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the leader-level debates by bluntly stating, “Our world is in big trouble. Divides are growing deeper. Inequalities are growing wider. Challenges are spreading farther.” Several leaders from Asia, including the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, and some Pacific states, have, or are expected to address, the general assembly. Notable absences include China’s President Xi Jinping, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and India’s Prime Minister Modi.
Foundations of rule-of-law being shaken . . .
Yesterday’s speech by Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio stood out for its calls to action to re-affirm the world’s rules-based order and the need to reform the United Nations. He said that “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an act that tramples on the vision and principles of the UN Charter. What is crucial is for any and all countries to be under the rule of law – not the rule by force, which we absolutely cannot allow.” He pointed out how the UN has been moving away from its founding ideals of existing for the benefit of all countries and not only great powers. As such, he contended the UN – notably the Security Council – needs reform to return to the visions and principles of the UN Charter and to strengthen its functions to support peace, disarmament, and human security. Kishida said that Japan is prepared to help lead the way.
Sustainable Development Goals not on track . . .
To Canada’s credit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is co-chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocates group, which will discuss how to move forward on climate action, the empowerment of women, reducing inequality, protecting biodiversity, and improving food security. This may require a new approach considering progress on the 21 SDGs has stagnated, notably throughout the Asia Pacific, over the last three years. The general pessimism over the first two days of the general assembly raises the question of whether the UN can live up to its mandate and this year’s theme, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.”
- Al Jazeera: UN General Assembly: Who is attending, and what’s on the agenda?
- The Jakarta Post: UNGA discord heralds challenging G20 Summit
- United Nations: General Assembly of the United Nations General Debate