United Nations General Assembly’s 72nd Session: A Briefing
The seventy-second United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held in New York City from Sep12 to Sep 25, was opened by the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajčák, who spoke on migration, international terrorism, and world peace. Official debates commenced on Sep19, in which subcommittees held meetings throughout the remainder of the week to discuss specific situations surrounding those topics.
Formed in 1945 after World War II, the mission of the United Nations is to address international issues with representatives of varying sovereign nations. The General Assembly aims to have an overview agenda on a range of global topics, which are then tackled by varying committees within the Assembly. Subsequently, participating members aim to reach a sort of resolution. The General Assembly also serves as a dialogue platform for countries to address some of their own dilemmas.
Members of UNGA expressed disappointment in both President Trump and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about their plans to not be a part of the Paris Climate Agreement, an initiative proposed by the UN in 2015 to hold countries accountable for their carbon emissions. French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that not only was the agreement essential for a more sustainable and healthy environment, but also, to the dismay of Trump, that the agreement was not up for negotiation. In relation to environmental topics, the recent natural catastrophes—the floods, hurricanes, and droughts that have affected the world—were an important topic of discussion at the UNGA.
Donald Trump’s speech at the General Assembly was a much-anticipated moment, and certainly controversial and highly discussed during the week. Trump addressed his passion of making the United States a more prosperous nation, but also claimed that the world would ultimately have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if it continued its aggressive behavior. The behavior in question includes North Korea’s missile testing over the past year —a troubling performance of North Korea’s determination for building a powerful arsenal. North Korea's Foreign Minister, Ri Yong Ho, fired back in a subsequent address pitying Donald Trump’s allies and, much to the distress of UN members, addressing his speech as a declaration of war.
Finally, many members described the mass-murdering of the Rohingyan people, a majority Muslim population living in the majority Buddhist nation of Myanmar, by military and police force as an attempt of religious and ethnic cleansing committed by the state. While the UN representative of Myanmar negated the causes being based on ethnic or religious backgrounds, he acknowledged a crisis that needed awareness and intervention. Myanmar, as well as Yemen and Syria, were the focal points of humanitarian involvement for great migration and refugee crisis. Lajčák took these examples to relate to human rights violations and proposed a generally agreed upon strive for a global initiative named the political declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The aforementioned topics are to be addressed by varying committees in the weeks to come in subsequent UN meetings.