New York, Sept. 21 (BNA): World leaders return to the United Nations for the first time in two years on Tuesday with a massive agenda of escalating crises to be addressed, including the still raging COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing warming. planet.
Other pressing issues include rising US-China tensions, Afghanistan’s precarious future under the new Taliban, and ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Syria and the besieged Tigray region of Ethiopia, the Associated Press reports.
Last year, no leader came to the United Nations because the coronavirus was sweeping the world, so all their addresses were pre-registered. This year, the General Assembly offered leaders the choice of coming to New York or staying online, and more than 100 heads of state and government decided to appear in person on the Assembly Hall.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, inaugurating the week-long event, “will not throw punches at expressing his concern about the state of the world, and will set out a vision to bridge the many divisions that stand in the way of progress,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
By tradition, the first country to speak is Brazil, whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, has not been vaccinated. He reiterated last Thursday that he does not plan to get the vaccine any time soon, justifying his refusal by saying that he has COVID-19 and therefore has a high level of antibodies.
A major issue before the meetings was the COVID-19 entry requirements for leaders into the United States — and into the United Nations headquarters itself. The United States is ordering a new COVID-19 vaccination or test, and the United Nations will operate an honor system where anyone entering the compound certifies that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been tested positive in the past 10 days.
The three most watched speakers on Tuesday morning are expected to be US President Joe Biden, who appears at the United Nations for the first time since defeating Donald Trump in the November elections, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will present in a surprise move. Video: Iran’s recently elected hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi.
Before the opening of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Guterres issued a dire warning that the world could plunge into a new and possibly more dangerous Cold War unless the United States and China repaired their “totally dysfunctional” relationship.
The United Nations Secretary-General said in an interview this weekend with the Associated Press that Washington and Beijing should cooperate on the climate crisis and negotiate trade and technology, but “unfortunately, today we only have a confrontation” including on human rights and geostrategic problems mainly at sea. Southern China.
Speaking last week about Biden’s speech, Richard Gowan, director of the International Crisis Group at the United Nations, said, “The really important question is exactly how he frames relations with China.” He predicted that Biden “won’t be as outspoken in criticizing China as Trump was, especially in 2019 and 2020,” but instead “will try to portray China as a country challenging the rules-based global order and a country that should not be trusted with leadership of the international system.”
In a recent list of speakers released earlier this month, Friday’s China speech was supposed to be given by the deputy prime minister. But the United Nations confirmed on Monday that Xi would provide the country’s video address instead.
His speech and any comments about the rivalry between the United States will surely be watched and analyzed closely.
Other leaders scheduled to speak in person during the meeting, which will end on September 27, include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the president of Venezuela, and the prime ministers of Japan, India and the United Kingdom along with new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Among the leaders who delivered pre-recorded statements this year were the presidents of Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. French President Emmanuel Macron was supposed to deliver a pre-recorded statement on Tuesday, but the government said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will now deliver his country’s address on almost the last day.
France and China reacted angrily to Biden’s surprise announcement, along with the leaders of Australia and Britain, of a deal to supply Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. Australia has signed a contract worth at least $66 billion for dozens of French conventional diesel-electric submarines, and their construction is already under way.
Le Drian said at a press conference on Monday that there is a “crisis of confidence” between the United States and its oldest ally, France, as well as Europe, which has been left out of the new alliance between the US, UK and Australia focused on India. Pacific Ocean and aimed at confrontation with China. He said Europeans “should not be left behind”, and needed to define their strategic interests.