The UN General Assembly High-Level Week is being held in person after 2 years of interruption and restrictions due to COVID-19. The event is considered a test of multilateralism and the hope of bringing lasting peace to the world.
Multilateralism is facing unprecedented challenges
At the close of the previous General Assembly on September 12, UN chief Antonio Guterres said that he sees an unprecedented test of multilateralism and it will continue to test cohesion and trust among member states. Never before has the world faced so many challenges, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, high inflation, terrorism, extremism, environmental pollution, natural calamities, the COVID-19 epidemic, and other emerging diseases. Conflicts around the globe have pushed millions of people into poverty and misery. Inequality is hampering the recovery and development of many countries.
High on the agenda of the on-going session are the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the global food crisis. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, two major exporters of grain and fertilizer, has exacerbated a food crisis that was precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
The World Food Program recently reported that 345 million people are facing food insecurity in 82 countries and territories, more than twice the figure before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.
Analysts predict that the UN general debate will see the US and its Western allies compete for diplomatic influence with Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited Africa to try to mobilize support for the West in its confrontation with Russia.
Russia’s representatives will attend the UN General Assembly general debate and are scheduled to hold 20 meetings with other leaders. Their issues may upstage other crises, such as climate change, education, and epidemics.
Action for common development
At the opening of the UN General Assembly Week Guterres said the many challenges that defined the 76th session are still very much with us as we look to the 77th – conflicts, climate change, lack of trust, divisions, disagreements, poverty, inequality, discrimination, and rising food and energy prices.
Guterres said that addressing shared challenges will require continued solidarity as we demonstrate the great promise and potential of the UN. He urged world leaders to take immediate action for shared development without hesitation or waiting. Governments should invest as much as possible in education and public health, especially for refugees and migrants, help people overcome economic shocks, and generate more jobs, especially in digital and green energy.
The international situation and bilateral and multilateral relations between countries will see unpredictable challenges, but with international cooperation in various fields from trade to diplomacy, the United Nations and the multilateral system are still the best hope for humanity. The UN General Assembly High-Level meeting is an opportunity for countries to work together and build trust for a peaceful and better future.