It Will Be Quite A Different UN General Assembly This Year
President Edgar Lungu will join other world leaders and dignitaries from 193 countries at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, for a week of speeches, debates, and side meetings.
They will be meeting for the first time under the new Secretary-General António Guterres, who took office in January 2017, from Ban ki-Moon.
The General Debate will open on Tuesday, September 19, under the theme, “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet”. In addition to this, are the well-known challenges that have beset the UN in recent times, specifically climate change, North Korea’s missile proliferation, terrorism, conflicts in Syria, Sudan and other parts of the world, as well as an unprecedented level of migration and refugee crisis.
Global hunger has increased, driven by climatic conditions, civil war and conflict. A recent UN report titled The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, states that about 815 million people were hungry last year – an increase of 38 million from the previous year – affecting some 11 percent of the world population, making food security a key priority, as well as methods to tackle disease and health care.
Also new at this year’s meeting are the leaders of three of the five permanent members of the Security Council – United States President Donald Trump, Theresa May of Britain and Emmanuel macron, France. National security and migration are critical agenda issues for Britain and France. Both countries have suffered a spate of terrorist attacks in recent months, the latest being last Friday's attack on a London underground train, three days before the UN General Assembly opens in New York.
Leaders will focus on discussions among the international community on intensified measures to curb the terrorist threats posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
This will also be President Donald Trump’s first UN meeting and there is anticipation about what his address to the General Assembly will be.
The US President is a strong critic of the United Nations and has frequently called for drastic reform of the global body to make it more efficient.
Under the “America First policy”, the Trump Administration has proposed to cut US funding for the UN.
His country is the biggest financial contributor to the UN and the most important player when it comes to decision-making on issues ranging from food aid, peacekeeping to nuclear nonproliferation.
Briefing the Diplomatic Corps in Washington D.C on September 7. US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon the USA will use the UN General Assembly as a forum to address most serious threats to peace and security, boost humanitarian assistance, and foster comprehensive reform to make the UN a more efficient and effective institution.
Mr. Shannon says the USA will this year focus on five key policy priorities namely; The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), The Crisis in Syria, The fight against ISIS and counterterrorism, Humanitarian assistance, and United Nations reform.
“With respect to the DPRK, the United States ultimate goal is a stable Korean Peninsula, at peace, without nuclear weapons. However, the DPRK’s defiance to multiple United Nations Security Council resolution through its development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs constitutes a direct threat to national security and international peace and security.
“In Syria, the United States seeks the lasting defeat of ISIS and other terrorists, to de-escalate the Syrian conflict, improve humanitarian access and advance a political solution consistent with international obligation including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique,” Mr. Shannon said.
President Trump is expected to host a meeting of specially invited guests at the UN headquarters on Monday a day before the Debate, to garner support for his agenda. According to Reuters News, countries will be invited to attend Trump’s function if they sign on to a U.S.-drafted 10-point political declaration backing efforts by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to initiate effective, meaningful reform,”
Addressing the 72nd session of the General Assembly which officially opened on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, Mr. Guterres emphasised the importance of focusing on people in the UN’s work and underscored his proposed reforms to streamline the Organisation.
“People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver,” he said “We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver. That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider,” said the UN Chief.
The General Assembly has released summary agendas for eight topics, separated into three groups: Education, Environmental Conventions and Social Development; Trade, Gender and Human Development; and Globalization and 2030 Agenda, Technology and Innovation, and Water and Sanitation.
When President Lungu addresses the gathering, he like other leaders will have about 15 minutes to deliver his statement.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ambassador Chalwe Lombe says a tight schedule awaits President Lungu this week as he delivers Zambia’s position at the UN General Assembly.
Ambassador Lombe says President Lungu will take the limelight to advance Zambia’s foreign policy to world leaders at the Assembly.
According to the programme lined up, President Lungu among other activities is expected to attend the high-level event on ending child early and forced marriage being hosted by Governments of the Republic of Zambia and Canada under the theme: “Accelerating efforts to eliminate Child Marriage in Africa by 2030.”
The event will also feature Heads of State and Government of the African Union, development partners, and United Nations agencies. It is expected that the event will renew commitments and accelerate efforts to end child, early and forced marriages.
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.
The five permanent members are China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, There are ten non-permanent members, elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.