BY ALEX BALUKU
NEW YORK, USA, September 21, 2023 – The United Nations General Assembly entered its third day in New York City, where world leaders continued to address pressing global issues, emphasizing the need for cooperation and collective action in a rapidly changing world.
Over 80 world leaders have already delivered speeches during the first two days, covering topics ranging from climate change to global conflicts, inequality, and human rights.
Here, we delve into some of the highlights from the third day of the General Assembly.
Leaders Emphasize the Importance of Unity Amidst Shifting Alliances
Serbia: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic took the stage, highlighting his country’s delicate balancing act in international relations. He expressed Serbia’s commitment to building stronger ties with Western nations and seeking European Union membership while maintaining traditional friendships, including Russia.
Vucic’s remarks came in the wake of Serbia’s decision to abstain from joining sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, a move that reflects the complexities of the region’s geopolitics. Talks between Serbia and Kosovo, brokered by the European Union, recently failed to make progress, further underlining the challenges of reconciling historical conflicts.
Palestinians: Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian territories and the Palestinian National Authority, delivered a passionate speech, calling for international recognition of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas emphasized that while Israel is widely recognized, Palestine continues to seek recognition and membership in the United Nations.
He questioned the reasons behind denying Palestine full UN membership, advocating for the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Abbas also criticized the Israeli government for ongoing military operations in the West Bank and unrest in Gaza, underscoring the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
China: Chinese Vice President Han Zheng addressed the assembly, touching on themes of equity, justice, and international peace. Despite its assertiveness towards Taiwan and criticism of its human rights record, Zheng emphasized the value of diversity among civilizations. He reiterated China’s stance that Taiwan is an integral part of its territory, despite Taiwan’s claims to the contrary.
Zheng also stated China’s support for developing countries’ rights and interests and called for cooperation in advancing human rights while opposing the use of human rights as a political tool.
These statements contrast with concerns raised by the international community over China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Greece: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed the assembly, highlighting the urgent global challenge of climate change. Mitsotakis pointed to the devastating wildfires, floods, and rising temperatures experienced in Greece, emphasizing that climate change is no longer limited to specific regions.
He stressed the need for collective action to combat the effects of global warming. Additionally, Mitsotakis discussed Greece’s response to the mass migration crisis, as thousands of migrants have risked their lives to reach Greek shores over the past decade.
He advocated addressing the root causes of migration in countries of origin, along with investments to prevent mass migration and disrupt human trafficking and criminal networks. Mitsotakis emphasized the importance of enhancing legal migration and addressing political, socioeconomic, and climate trends in both origin and transit countries.
Common Themes and Divergent Views
As leaders from diverse nations addressed the General Assembly, several common themes emerged. The urgency of addressing climate change and its global impact was a recurring motif, as leaders emphasized the need for coordinated efforts to mitigate its effects.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also drew significant attention, with Abbas passionately advocating for the international recognition of Palestine, while Greece’s Mitsotakis and Italy’s President Giorgia Meloni highlighted the challenges posed by mass migration and human trafficking.
However, the diversity of views and positions on these issues was striking. Serbia’s President Vucic underscored the complexities of maintaining both Western and traditional alliances, highlighting the nuanced nature of international diplomacy. Chinese Vice President Zheng presented a vision of cooperation while defending China’s territorial claims and human rights record.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis emphasized the importance of addressing migration’s root causes and enhancing legal pathways, advocating for a tough but fair approach.
The General Assembly’s third day reinforced the importance of multilateralism and dialogue in addressing global challenges. While leaders offered differing perspectives and priorities, they also shared a common recognition of the urgent need to work together to confront the world’s most pressing issues, from climate change and conflict resolution to human rights and migration. As the meeting continued, the world watched with anticipation, hoping for progress in addressing these critical challenges.