What to Expect as the UN General Assembly Brings Global Leaders Together

A Preview of the 78th UN General Assembly Session


The annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly is set to commence amid a backdrop of global challenges. As the 78th session unfolds, there is no single dominant crisis in focus, with issues like the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, political instability in West Africa and Latin America, the persistent COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainties, and a string of natural disasters demanding attention.

The Theme: “Rebuilding Trust and Reigniting Global Solidarity”

This year’s General Debate theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for peace, prosperity, and sustainability for all,” reflects the urgency of addressing multifaceted global issues.

Key Participants

Heads of state and government from approximately 145 countries are expected to address the General Assembly. Notable figures include Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, US President Joe Biden, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, making his first in-person appearance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Notable Absences

However, several key leaders, including those from permanent UN Security Council members France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia, will not attend in person. The absence of leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak has raised eyebrows.

The General Debate Structure

While the General Debate may lack visible fireworks, it is not devoid of intrigue and drama. Speeches, which are supposed to last 15 minutes, often stretch beyond that mark. Member states also have the right to reply to rebut criticism voiced during the debate.

Schedule Adjustments

This year’s General Debate concludes a day later than usual, on Tuesday, September 26, due to the observance of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The order of speeches is determined by various factors, including the status of the speaker and regional balance.

Permanent Observers

While all member states are invited to speak, permanent observers like the European Union, Palestine, and the Holy See (the Vatican) also participate. Last year, Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the longest speech, lasting over 47 minutes.

Access to the General Assembly

While the General Assembly is not open to the public, the United Nations provides live streams of the proceedings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *