From September 18 to September 22, the United Nations (UN) held their 78th General Assembly. Leaders from countries in the UN met in New York to discuss global crises, issues and resolutions. This year topics of discussion included the continuous Russia-Ukraine war, controversy over multiple presidential elections, climate change related natural disasters and COVID-19 to name just a few.
Despite the stacked agenda, only one leader of the five key global powers was present this year, U.S. President Joe Biden. However, this year the General Assembly had the highest attendance levels since before COVID-19. For the first time, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the General Assembly.
A central topic this year was the Russia-Ukraine war, which has been ongoing for over a year. The majority of the UN restated their support of Ukraine, led by President of the European Council Charles Michel. He stated, “As long as the innocent are attacked, we will help them to defend themselves. And we will stay by their side, for as long as it takes.”
Controversy over presidential elections was also a topic of debate during the General Assembly, specifically in Guatemala and Ecuador where there have recently been dramatic presidential elections, marked with protests and violence. Additionally, there has been a coup against the Nigerien president, throwing much of West Africa into an uproar. There was a discussion about resolution, but ultimately no solution was found.
Throughout the past year, there have been many natural disasters around the world, primarily due to climate change, including devastating floods, wildfires and earthquakes. The accumulation of these natural disasters cost over 57 billion dollars. The UN General Assembly spoke extensively about this issue, and Charles Michel spoke yet again, calling for funds to mitigate the consequences of these disasters.
Once again, another constant topic of debate was COVID-19. While there were some who believed that COVID-19 no longer needed to be in the foreground of discussion, others stated that it was still strongly affecting numerous countries. Despite the controversy, no resolutions were made. There was, however, a proposal for a treaty related to prevention of future pandemics, however nothing has come of it yet.
In the coming weeks there will no doubt be more discussion over the results of the UN General Assembly of 2023, however, as of now there has been much debate but no relevant resolutions made.