Farnsworth Hendrickson Jr.
According to The New York Times, the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) began on Tuesday, September 14. In the general debate, representatives from all 193 member states have the ability to speak in front of the chamber and give their thoughts addressing the many complex world issues and challenges those individual members are facing. Topics on the floor included a pledge of $1 billion in aid for Afghanistan, a call to retain Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s ambassador, and a criticism by China of American politics, reports Al Jazeera.
Many of these topics, however, were largely overshadowed by concerns with the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the United States. All members wanted to highlight the urgent actions that need to be placed for COVID-19 to slow its spread. Al Jazeera continues that incoming UNGA President Abdulla Shahid emphasized in his speech the importance of “building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize.”
The main goal in the debates of the first week was rebuilding the world in the wake of the pandemic. UNGA has continuously been working to mitigating the spread of the disease, using virtual platforms to conduct highly important meetings to discuss other current issues besides the COVID-19. One main issue on the floor was the crisis in Afghanistan. According to The Economist, since the Taliban took over power, portions of Afghanistan have suffered from starvation and poverty. Generous donors from many communities have helped the people of Afghanistan while the crisis continues, and the UNGA is looking to take action through donations and awareness campaigns.
Another large focus of the UNGA general discussion is climate change and biodiversity. The UN Foundation reports that many of the UNGA members are quite disturbed with the current state of climate change and that many are feeling cautious for the future. One of the members from the debate spoke out about this topic and said that “speakers almost certainly will raise the interlinkages among shared challenges and need to adopt a systems approach to address them, and they are expected to bring calls for pursuing nature-based solutions. This meeting is expected to conclude with the adoption of a global biodiversity framework outlining actions through 2050, which could feature in UNGA discussions as well.” This will be an excellent discussion in connection with the environment that will help construct an idea to lead government leaders into focusing on world problems.
Together leaders of the UNGA are working to overcome COVID-19, find a way to make peace within many different states, and solve economic concerns. However, in order to develop solutions to promote permanent, effective change, many states must agree upon the same topic. During these types of debates, conversations and negotiations are required to develop shared agendas and reach a point where countries are able to take collective action. For instance, numerous states are still against vaccinations, but some are deciding to change their mind due to globally high cases of COVID-19. Even so, persuasion is key during these debates, and it will be interesting to see how members of the UNGA will work together to change global perspectives. Through the many topics that will be discussed by countries from all over the world, states are guaranteed to disagree. However, many of the decisions made will have significant global impact that will have a large effect on society.