This year’s gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly was riveted by the conflict in Ukraine and the worldwide repercussions of that conflict. It was there in practically every speech, even when it wasn’t at the forefront, and it was always there.
Rich and poor countries alike decried the consequences of the conflict, which included widespread shortages and rising prices not only for food but also for energy, widespread inflation that impacted the cost of living everywhere, and growing global inequality. They called for an end to the seven-month war almost unanimously.
Even if the speeches and side discussions did not create any breakthroughs toward peace, they did, however briefly, bring the senior diplomats from Russia and Ukraine into the same room for the first time in many months. And the head of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, David Beasley, has raised the alarm that the conflict, in addition to the continuing COVID-19 epidemic, has left 50 million people in 45 nations “knocking on the door of hunger.” He warned that people would starve to death, countries would become unstable, and there would be mass migration.
In his most forceful and gloomiest speech since taking the helm of the United Nations in 2017, Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, opened the six-day gathering by telling world leaders that the survival of humanity and the planet are at stake, and that nations aren’t tackling the challenges to reverse course. The speech was the strongest and most gloomy since he took the helm of the United Nations in 2017.
According to what he stated, “we are gridlocked in gigantic global dysfunction.” “Our planet is in danger, and we have no way to fix it.”
The President of the General Assembly, Csaba Krosi, said that he received a thundering message from global leaders to the effect that the conflict in Ukraine, the effects of which can be felt all over the globe, must come to a stop.
“However, despite being the largest and most intense, the war in Ukraine is one of approximately 30 armed conflicts worldwide,” Krosi added. “Be that as it may, the war in Ukraine is one of the largest and most acute.” “And none of them are making any progress.”
Other key conclusions from the high-level meeting, according to the ambassador from Hungary, include the following: Climate change is harming us, human rights need to be addressed, and the United Nations has to be reformed, notably its 15-member security council, which must, as he stated, represent “the reality of this century.”
For the first time in the last three years, the 77th meeting of the General Assembly was held in person. In 2020, it was conducted fully virtually, and in 2021, a hybrid version was used.
According to Krosi, 190 of the 193 UN member states gave remarks, including 126 global leaders. This is a considerable amount, but it is far lower than the approximately 150 speakers who were included on the last speakers’ list that was given earlier this month.
There was one exception to the need that everyone be present at the gathering. Most of the members voted in favor of letting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky give a prepared speech because of concerns from Russia and a few other allies about the “ongoing foreign invasion.”
The gathering, which lasted for a total of six days, took place despite the fact that Europe was in the midst of its first major conflict since World War II. This conflict started on February 24, when Russia invaded its smaller neighbor. The battle has caused a food crisis on a global scale and generated fractures among the world’s main countries to a degree that has not been witnessed since the end of the Cold War.
On Thursday, in the middle of all of the remarks, the United Nations Security Council convened an open discussion on the topic of ensuring responsibility for the activities undertaken by Russia. France is now serving as the council’s president. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, sent a lower-ranking official in his place, arriving just before his speaking slot and leaving immediately afterward, much to the chagrin of the other ministers, including Ukraine’s, whose speeches he missed. Lavrov also missed the opportunity to speak himself.
Lavrov reiterated Russia’s accusations that Kyiv has long persecuted Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, which is one of the reasons Moscow has provided for the invasion, and that Western backing for Ukraine is a threat to Russia. This is one of the justifications Moscow has supplied for the invasion. He never once talked about President Vladimir Putin’s recent order to move troops.
During his address to the congress on Saturday, Lavrov said that the goal of the West was to “destroy and split Russia.” In addition, many people voiced their opinions from the other viewpoint.
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, stated that it was time for all nations to “act to force Russia to give up the choice of war so that it realizes the cost to itself and us and ends its aggression.” Macron made this statement after accusing countries that remained silent on the war of “serving the cause of a new imperialism, a contemporary cynicism that is destroying the world order.” He said that these countries were “serving the cause of a new imperialism.
President Biden issued an appeal for all types of governments, including democracies and autocracies, to speak out against what he termed Russia’s “brutal, senseless conflict” and support Ukraine in its efforts to protect itself. “We will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period,” he added, accusing Russia of “shamelessly” breaking the fundamental principles outlined in the United Nations Charter. “We will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period.”
Beyond the theme of Ukraine, other issues such as climate change, inequality, and security were brought up. Terrorism “is not simply an African subject,” Senegal’s President, Macky Sall, said, urging greater attention to the issue from the United Nations and the rest of the world. The African Union is made up of 55 nations.
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, recently issued a statement in which he expressed concern regarding the emergence of new forms of conflict, including “conflicts increasingly being driven by non-state actors; proliferation of small arms and light weapons; terrorism; violent extremism; malignant use of technology; climate change; irregular migration; and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living.”
A resolution to the conflict in Ukraine does not appear to be in sight, and the Ukrainian government is maintaining its pressure on the United Nations by requesting a meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the referenda that Russia has called as a precursor to the probable annexation of more of its territory.
And so it goes on after the General Assembly just as it did before, with the United Nations attempting to assist in stopping conflict but having a limited toolkit to do so, notably in the Security Council. Nevertheless, there are still paths that may be taken ahead.
Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, has said that “fairness and unity are necessary” in order to bring about peace, love, and prosperity in this world. And therein lies none of the romance. These are harsh facts, and the only way to deal with them is to make a choice.
Krosi closed the annual global gathering on Monday afternoon by saying that he sensed, in the speeches of the leaders, a “growing awareness that humanity has entered a new era” of complex challenges, multilayered crises, and changing priorities. Krosi was referring to the new era that humanity has entered. He said that what is occurring entails not only alterations, but “major changes that are in the process of being made.” Krosi remarked, “For the new period, there is not yet a name, but we believe that it has come,” but he did not provide a name.