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What is the UN General Debate, and Why Should I Care?

By Rev. Brian K. Muzás, Ph.D.

The UN General Debate, also known as the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, is an annual event where world leaders, including heads of state, gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to address the General Assembly and discuss global issues of concern. The General Debate typically takes place in September and marks the opening of the UN General Assembly’s regular session.


For 2023, the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78) will feature the High-Level General Debate from Tuesday, September 19th to Saturday, September 23rd (and also on Tuesday, September 26th) under the theme “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”


The 78th session represents a crucial milestone in the journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for it marks the halfway point to the global goals’ deadline. At the SDG Summit, leaders will review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs, providing high-level political guidance on transformative actions. The outcome will be a negotiated political declaration.


The UN General Debate is a significant event in international diplomacy that provides a platform for world leaders to discuss and address pressing global issues. It reflects the importance of international cooperation and the need for collective action to solve shared challenges. Understanding the General Debate and its outcomes can help you stay informed about global affairs and their impact on our interconnected world.


Rev. Brian K. Muzás, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations of Seton Hall University.

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