72nd United Nations General Assembly: The Highlights
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
“You reaffirmed your commitment to the UN and to each other. You said we are stronger together, in a system based on dialogue and multi-literal-ism, and you stressed that any alternative would risk repeating the mistakes of history, but that is part of the package. It is your right to do this. And regardless of size, or population, or economy, all delegations have access to the same platform, for the same amount of time. They can speak freely, without censorship, we addressed many challenges over the past week. You talked about their impact on the countries of the world. Importantly, you also talked about their impact on people. We heard about people running from gunshots – or the force of exploding bombs. People living for a week on the same amount some of us spend on a cup of coffee, people forced to make the decision between risking their lives to stay, or risking their lives to flee. People wondering when the next hurricane will hit, or if their village will be under water in a few decades. People who are beginning to lose – or have already lost– hope in international peace processes. And people still waiting for justice and human rights to become a part of their daily reality.”
President Miroslav Lajcák – President, 72nd United Nations General Assembly (Monday, 25th September 2017)
On Monday, 25th September 2017, the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA wrapped up its 72nd annual general debate, with its President Miroslav Lajcak underscoring prevention of conflicts before they break out, support for United Nations peacekeeping missions, sustainable development, respect for human rights and gender equality among the major priorities raised by the 196 Heads of State, Government and delegations.
On May 31st, 2017, The Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak was elected as President of the United Nations’ 72nd General Assembly and 21 Vice Presidents were also elected. Vice Presidents, other than the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, were from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.
Most states had a representative speaking about issues concerning their country and the hopes for the coming year as to what the UNGA will do. This presently an opportunity for the member states to opine on international issues of their concern. The General Debate took place from 19th –25th September 2017, except for the intervening Sunday. The theme for this year’s debate was chosen by President Miroslav Lajcak as “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.” (Seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly from Wikipedia.com)
Similarly, The President of the 72nd session, Miroslav Lajcák, identified six overarching priorities for his term. These priorities include: making a difference in the lives of ordinary people; prevention and mediation for sustaining peace; migration; political momentum for the SDGs and climate; human rights and equality, including equal opportunities for genders; and quality of events organized by the presidency. In parallel to the opening session, several events will take place including the Global Goals Week 2017 and the Climate Week NYC 2017. (Source: UNGA 72nd session agenda and main topics of discussion by Fatma Al-Wahaidy, Monday, September 11, 2017) In consequence, as the topic above suggests, this article would address the main highlights of the just concluded UNGA 72 using excerpts from an article by Labaran Yusuf titled; ‘72nd UNGA: Threats, Counter-threats and Caution’. Please come on-board.
The 3 Newcomers – This Year’s United Nations General Assembly saw a debut appearance of three new world leaders – President Emmanuel Macron of France, US President Donald Trump and U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. These three World Leaders attended their first UNGA in September 2017.
Climate Change – Mr Macron defended the nuclear accord, he told the UN General Assembly: “Renouncing it would be a grave error, not respecting it would be irresponsible, because it is a good accord that is essential to peace at a time where risk of a conflagration cannot be excluded”. He also added that Myanmar’s government crackdown on the Rohingya is “genocide”.
Myanmar – Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, also condemned the targeted killings of the Muslim-majority Rohingya population in Myanmar. He said the crisis is very reminiscent to what happened in Bosnia in 1995 and in Rwanda in 1994, which he called a state-backed campaign based on ethnicity and religion. He also echoed the suffering of the Palestinian people and the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The president also thanked the governments helping refugees escaping conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And at the end, Buhari called for a peaceful solution to the North Korea nuclear crisis.
North Korea – “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or it allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”. These are clearly words never, ever to be engraved in marble. The President of the United States chose, in a forum dedicated to diplomacy, to threaten to wipe another nation – a much smaller one – off the face of the earth. (Source: 72nd UNGA: Threats, Counter-threats and Caution by Labaran Yusuf)
God Bless Us All