UN: General Assembly opens amid multiple serious crises

The plenary session of the UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday 19 September, with strong speeches from Member States, in a context of multiple global crises. In the midst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to make his first appearance in person at the rostrum, shortly after the speech of his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But attention is also focused on Nagorno-Karabakh, on which Azerbaijan has launched a new offensive.

The UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday 19 September, with several speeches by heads of state, in a context of multiple crises, in New York. Here, during US President Joe Biden's speech. AP - Mary Altaffer

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will take the podium at the UN on Tuesday for the first time since the Russian invasion, facing an international community fragmented and shaken by serial crises, especially the war in Ukraine. A year ago, he was exceptionally allowed to intervene via video message.

This time, he will be there in person, for the high-level session of the annual United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday and a special meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday, before leaving for Washington where he will be received at the White House on Thursday.

The Ukrainian is due to meet his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday, after a missed appointment in May at the G7 summit, according to the Brazilian presidency. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Brazil, which created the BRICS group with Russia, has refused to supply arms to Kiev or to impose sanctions against Vladimir Putin's Russia. The Brazilian president has sparked controversy by repeatedly saying that responsibility for the conflict is shared, even though he has condemned the Russian invasion.

Lula calls again for "dialogue" between Kiev and Moscow

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Brazil's president called for "dialogue" in the conflict, saying "work must be done to create a space for negotiations" between the parties. Lula lamented that "much has been invested in weapons and very little in development."

The war in Ukraine reveals our collective failure to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We do not underestimate the difficulties encountered in achieving peace, but no solution will be sustainable if it is not based on dialogue. I reiterated that we must work to create a space for negotiation. (...) Stability and security will not be ensured where social exclusion and inequality prevail. The United Nations was born to be a forum for comprehensive dialogue. The international community must choose between expanding conflicts, deepening inequalities and eroding the rule of law. On the other, the renewal of multilateral institutions dedicated to the promotion of peace.


At the UN, Lula calls for "dialogue" between Kiev and Moscow


In turn, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to "intensify" his diplomatic "efforts" to "end the war" in Ukraine invaded by Russia. "Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, we have tried to keep our Russian and Ukrainian friends around the table, with the idea that war will have no victors and peace no losers," he said.

Biden calls for mission to Haiti and more efforts against climate change

Speaking shortly after his Brazilian counterpart, US President Joe Biden also gave a loaded speech, speaking of several crises. He on Tuesday called on the United Nations Security Council to "authorize now" the sending of an international force to Haiti to help police fight gangs, because "the people of Haiti cannot wait any longer."

Violence by gangs that control most of the capital of the impoverished Caribbean country and reign terror has left more than 2,400 people dead since the beginning of the year, according to the UN. For nearly a year, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have been calling for an international force to help police overwhelmed by the violence.

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The president of the country at the head of CO2 emissions warned that the climate crisis is "an existential threat (...) for all humanity." Citing the heat waves, fires, floods and droughts that have hit various parts of the globe in recent months, "taken together, these events tell the story of what lies ahead if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and adapt our world to climate change."

'Seeking to manage the rivalry' between Washington and Beijing

On this subject, in particular, Joe Biden also assured that he was "ready to work with China". He also insisted that he was "seeking to manage the rivalry" with China "responsibly so that it does not escalate into conflict."

High-level contacts between the two great powers have multiplied in recent times. On the eve of the opening of the Assembly, the head of US diplomacy Antony Blinken met in New York with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, arguing the need for "responsible" management of the tense relationship with Beijing. "I think it's a good thing to increase high-level meetings" between the United States and China, he said at the beginning of his meeting with the Chinese official, to "make sure we keep the lines of communication open," he said.

For his part, the Chinese vice president noted that the world's top two economic powers face "many difficulties and challenges".

Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts erupt on Assembly opening day

Ironically or not, the opening of the UN General Assembly was also marked by renewed fighting on Tuesday morning between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has already been at the heart of several open conflicts between the two countries.

In this regard, the France on Tuesday condemned "in the strongest terms" Azerbaijan's launch of the military operation and called for "the urgent convening of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council". This operation is "illegal, unjustifiable, unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.


I would like to stress that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. " she said, adding that the France was in contact with its European and American partners as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. Earlier, it called for "the urgent convening of a meeting of the UN Security Council," "given the gravity of the responsibility that Azerbaijan has just assumed."

(With AFP)

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