The general debate at the United Nations is not over yet – but given the “colossal global dysfunction” progress is rare.
The world is full of crises, but in the general debate of the UN General Assembly, the focus on the Ukraine war has so far slowed down possible progress. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called this a “colossal global dysfunction”. An interim.
The Ukraine conflict reached another diplomatic low on Thursday in the UN Security Council, when Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov only appeared in the most powerful UN body for his speech and did not allow any dialogue. It should also have been no coincidence that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin announced the latest escalation with partial mobilization, nuclear threats and possible annexations of Ukrainian territory during the world’s largest diplomatic meeting. In New York, Western heads of state and government in particular condemned him, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj settled accounts with Putin in a strong speech. The signs point to confrontation.
The effects of the corona pandemic, the climate crisis, rising energy prices and conflicts, above all the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, have disrupted global supply chains and caused global food prices to rise drastically. The Ukraine war and blocked shipments of millions of tons of grain further increase the risk of famine in the Horn of Africa.
According to the United Nations, especially in Somalia, millions of people are at risk of starvation because of an unprecedented drought. The food crisis in the world also occupied the UN. The Americans made a major advance here: in his UN speech, US President Joe Biden promised further aid of more than 2.9 billion US dollars (around 2.9 billion euros) to alleviate the food crisis in the world.
Scholz’ UN debut
In the first speech by a German chancellor to the UN General Assembly in 15 years, Olaf Scholz accused Russia of “blatant imperialism.” Putin “cannot win this war,” Scholz said in his speech on Tuesday evening (local time). He condemned the announcements from Moscow. And because it was his first trip to New York, the chancellor also made room for a city tour with writer Daniel Kehlmann.
Security Council reform
The topic of expanding the UN Security Council picked up speed at least since the Biden speech on Wednesday. In front of the UN member states, he called for the reform of the body: He supported the increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent representatives of the council. Countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean must have permanent seats, Biden demanded.
The five permanent members of the committee, the USA, Russia, China, France and Great Britain, have veto rights and can thus block all actions. Above all, Russia and China are seen as opponents of reform. Germany has been in favor of this for years and is hoping for more influence.
The climate issue should actually dominate every diplomatic agenda, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his speech. But in New York, the crisis only played a niche role. Chancellor Scholz canceled a corresponding meeting of the UN chiefs in favor of another event.
Although all countries on the Iran nuclear deal were represented in New York, there were no known high-level meetings to move stalled negotiations forward. The 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, intended to prevent the country from developing a nuclear bomb, has been on hold since the US left in 2018. The aim of Iran’s ongoing talks with Germany, the USA, Russia, China, France and Great Britain is to lift US sanctions against Iran and restrict Tehran’s nuclear program again.