The World This Week

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The World This Week
A Brief Roundup: 78th United Nations General Assembly

  GP Team

The World This Week #232, Vol. 5, No.36
25 September 2023

China: On reunification with Taiwan and development as the international agenda
On 21 September, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng spoke in the 78th United Nations General Assembly discussion where he urged the international community to move towards a multipolar world order and to facilitate equitable global governance.  On Taiwan, he stated that it has been an inviolable part of Chinese territory since ancient times and reaffirmed their resolve towards Taiwan. Zheng believes that the reunification of Taipei and Beijing is a shared aspiration and that they will “continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and utmost effort.” Taking a jibe at the US involvement in the region he said that Beijing is against “unilateralism and cold war mentality,” and that Chinese diplomacy will never practice hegemonism.

On Nuclear war, Beijing called for the need to maintain security and in any conflict nuclear war mustn’t be fought and nuclear weapons should not be used. He highlighted that China is the only permanent member of the United Nations Security Council that has opted for “no first use of nuclear weapons.” Regarding the Ukraine war, he stated that resuming peace talks is the only way to settle the conflict and that they would support the Palestinian cause in restoring peace.

Furthermore, on development, Zheng believes that China will remain a developing nation and a “natural member of the Global South.” Citing the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road initiative under which 3,000 projects were launched, urging that development be the focus of the international agenda. On Climate Change it advocated the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and called for developed countries to do more in reducing their emissions and aid developing countries with green capacity building.

Japan: Call for nuclear disarmament and investments in African Union
On 19 September, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed the UNGA focused on reviving the “nuclear disarmament” agenda. Kishida, reflecting on his resolve, stated that coming from Hiroshima, disarmament is his “lifelong mission,” and urged the international community to step up and work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. He said that Japan would contribute Three billion Yen to establish a “Japan Chair for a world without nuclear weapons,” to open the discourse of disarmament and deterrence. On the People's Republic of Korea, he proclaimed his hopes to formulate normalized relations and to settle their “unfortunate past.”

Japan pledged to contribute an additional USD 9 million in capacity building and personnel deployment in the African Union. Furthermore, Kishida vowed to contribute USD 7 billion for the prevention of health crises and strengthening of universal health prevention and preparedness, stressing the global community should prepare for the next infectious outbreak.

This year Japan launched Hiroshima Artificial Intelligence aiming to build a more trustworthy AI compatible with humans. Kishida concluded by reiterating the need to have a common language that everyone resonates with, that Human dignity is of "paramount importance" and that by focusing on it the world can advance towards “Human-centered Cooperation.”

Kyrgyzstan: “Negative” changing world order and urged for global cooperation
On 19 September, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov while addressing the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly said that the world was "at a turning point" and that "negative" changes to the global order were starting to show. The world is dividing into regional, sub-regional, financial blocs and systems, he said, and this is causing geopolitical conflicts. It is also evident that diverse nations' governments will be required to make geopolitical, technological, and economic decisions. He apprised that on a scale of 166 UN Member States, Kyrgyzstan presently holds the 45th spot in its pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By 2030, we hope to be one of the top 30 nations in the world at achieving the SDGs.

Iran: Islamophobia and Cultural apartheid by the west
On 19 September, Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, the President of Iran addressed the 78th annual debate of the UN General Assembly. He began his address with a message from the Quran which preaches equality among humans, serving the disadvantaged and forbids violence in human interaction. With this backdrop, he highlighted the “Islamophobia” and “cultural apartheid” witnessed in the western countries and argued that respect for all religions should be an important agenda of the United Nations. He called upon all religious leaders to “defend the sanctity of the family”.

He stated that Western hegemony is no longer relevant, the liberal order has become obsolete and “attempts to universalize American ideals throughout the world” have failed. He calls for the creation of a new order based on “regional cooperation” rather than “global arrogance” and the rejection of “East-West” divide. He stressed the importance of Iran’s good neighbor policy and shunned any foreign presence calling it a problem in itself citing Afghanistan as an example. He blamed the western governments for “surgical use of terrorists” and touted “extremism” and “fundamentalism” as the most serious threats in Western Asia. He called on for an end to the occupation of Palestine

Turkey: Expansion of UNSC and the issue of xenophobia
On 19 September, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erodgan, addressing the 78th annual UNGA session expressed that this debate “convened with a theme of trust and solidarity would be a blessing for the entire human race”. He opined that unfortunately the current picture shows that “we are facing increasingly complex and dangerous challenges on a global scale” in the form of conflicts, wars, humanitarian crisis, political strife and social tensions compounded with economic problems. He pointed to the war in Ukraine and its multi-faceted implications, terrorism as an instrument of proxy war in Syria, North Africa and the Sahel region as “causing irreparable damage to the increasingly fragile international security climate”. He further argued that the signs of xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia have turned into a new crisis and reached alarming levels in the past year.

Erodgan agreed with the UN Secretary General’s recent observations that the world established after the Second World War no longer reflects today’s world. He further stated that the “world is bigger than five” and that the Security Council has ceased to be a guarantor of world security. He also called for a “New Agenda for Peace” on the lines of the UN Secretary General.  In the context of Russia-Ukraine war he mentioned Turkey’s role and belief in the thesis that- “War will have no winners and peace will have no losers”.

Palestine: Recognition of Palestine and Israel’s apartheid practices
On 21 September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that recognition of a Palestinian state at the pre-1967 lines is necessary for the establishment of Middle Eastern peace.  He stated “Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full, legitimate, and national rights, would be mistaken,”.  He spoke despite heightened diplomatic efforts to reach a normalization agreement that would include Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. Abbas urged the UN to admit Palestine as a member state, a move that would require the consent of the Security Council. The Palestinian leader vowed to continue pursuing Israel lawfully in forums including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Both courts are considering matters regarding Israel. He criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's administration and charged that Israel was "entrenching its apartheid" practices toward his people.

“As I stand before you here, the Israeli racist right-wing government continues its attacks on our people and its army and its racist terrorist settlers continue to intimate and kill our people, steal our money, and resources,” Abbas said. "This painful anniversary continues to be ignored and denied by Israel, which is the party that is primarily responsible for this Nakba... I call upon you today to criminalize its denial, and to designate the 15th of May of each year as an international day to commemorate its anniversary,” he stated.

Sudan: Civil conflict between SAF and RSF

On 21 September, the Sudanese leader of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly representing the country. The focus was on the ongoing conflict in the country between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). During his address, he called for political and humanitarian support for the transitional council in its fight against RSF. He accused RSF and its allies of carrying out war crimes and human rights violations including sexual violence across Sudan. He stated: “They [RSF] have killed thousands and displaced millions.” He called on the international community to designate RSF and its allies as terrorist groups. 

According to the UN, the conflict in Sudan that began in April has killed thousands and displaced more than seven million. In contrast to al-Burhan’s claims, both warring sides are engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The recent escalation in fighting came after frequent air strikes carried out by SAF in the civilian regions in the capital Khartoum and its twin cities of Omdurman and Bahri. At the UNGA, he accused RSF of not committing to peace initiatives proposed by the US, Saudi Arabia and South Sudan. However, both sides have shown little commitment to adhere to several ceasefire efforts and continue to accuse each other of violating the ceasefires.

Central African Republic: Migrant crisis and permanent representation
On 21 September, the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Touadera, spoke at the UNGA representing the country. The focus was on Africa’s migrant crisis, climate change and the need for UN reform with permanent representation for Africa. Political instabilities, climate change, insurgencies and economic crises are the major reasons behind the increasing migration across Africa.

Referring to the recent migrant crisis in Italy’s Lampedusa Islands, President Touadera blamed slavery, colonialism, Western imperialism, terrorism and internal instability behind the migrant crisis in Africa. However, his call for international actors to take responsibility for the migrant crisis is in contrast to Africa’s narrative on “African solution to African problems.” Meanwhile, his emphasis on UN reform and Africa’s permanent membership is pragmatic.

Ukraine: Russian invasion and 10- point peace formula
On 19 September, in his address at the UN General Assembly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the importance of unity in preventing wars. He highlighted Ukraine's commitment to nuclear disarmament, having given up its nuclear arsenal, and called out Russia for its role as the custodian of nuclear weapons, urging that Russia should not possess such arms. Zelenskyy also shed light on Russia's weaponization of food and its blockade of Ukrainian ports, commending those who supported the "Grain from Ukraine" program, converting weapons into food. He criticized some European countries for seemingly prioritizing political theater over solidarity.

President Zelenskyy went on to address Russia's weaponization of oil, gas, and nuclear energy. He cited the shelling, occupation, and blackmail of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia power plant as a grave concern and called for global accountability for such actions. He also condemned Russia's abduction of children in occupied territories, labeling it as genocide. Zelenskyy warned that Russia's aggression does not stop with one nation and highlighted its occupation of parts of Georgia, Moldova, and threats to Kazakhstan and the Baltic States. He stressed the need for unity to defeat the aggressor.

Zelenskyy presented Ukraine's 10-point peace formula, supported by 140 states, as an opportunity to end aggression on Ukraine's terms. He reported ongoing talks and preparations for a global peace summit. He cautioned against making deals behind the scenes with Russia, urging that evil cannot be trusted and urged for transparency and unity in decision-making.

Italy: Illegal migration and cooperation with Africa
On 20 September, Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni provided an address at 78th UN General Assembly. The address focused on resolving international dispute, repercussions of war in Ukraine, illegal migration in the Mediterranean, and cooperation with countries in Africa. On war in Ukraine, she mentioned how it brings back the past of neo-imperial wars and how Russia still thrives to safeguard its geopolitical agenda. She highlighted how Italy will take a strong stance against Russia for “weaponizing energy and blocking export of grains.” About migration, Meloni criticized the traffickers for promoting illegal migration without informing the migrants about the adversities of such travel. She stressed on addressing the organized crime in form human trafficking at the UN level. Highlighting the recent launched Conference on Migration and development in the “Rome Process” in July,

Meloni stated how Mediterranean and countries in Africa are engaged to counter the causes of migration and fight out “slave traders.” She said: “. the objective of guaranteeing the first of rights, that is the right of not having to emigrate, of not being forced to leave one’s home, one’s family, to cut off one’s roots, and being able to find in one’s own land the conditions to achieve one’s own fulfillment.”

On cooperation with Africa, she emphasized how resource rich the countries in Africa with rare earths, and arable lands. According to Meloni, the intervention by international has not respected the local situation and Italy will aim to cooperate in Africa to boost growth and process. This will be carried out through “strategic investments, and mutually beneficial projects,” and by providing work, training and achieving “legal migration.” She proposed to launch the cooperation through “Mettei Plan for Africa,” where Italy’s national interest and cooperative partner rights will be balanced for development.

Greece: Russia-Ukraine war and Climate Change
On 23 September, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis provided an address at 78th UN General Assembly. Mitsotakis focused Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, relations with Turkey, and climate change. He highlighted the united stance of Europe with Ukraine in the war and sanctions imposed to counter Russia’s economy. Mitsotakis stressed on countering Russia to serve as an example for other authoritarian leaders. The impact on gas prices, inflation, scarcity of natural resources had sparked challenges for Europe and to address it, he vouched for promoting energy efficiency and faster diversification from Russia’s energy. He also highlighted the need to counter the spread of disinformation, and to protect the people.

On the continuing ridge with Turkey over Cyprus issue, Mitsotakis expressed concerns on how Turkey still persists to not accept the two-state solution agreed at Security Council Resolution. He vouched for restarting the negotiations to settle the issue and demanded the international to not neglect Turkey’s violation of Cyprus’s maritime and air spaces. He criticized Turkey for its “destabilizing role” in the Middle East and Caucasus, encouraging illegal migration into Aegean, especially its threat to Greece’s sovereignty. Mitsotakis maintained a strong stance on Greece’s position to secure its territorial integrity.

Germany: On core value of UN and diverse representation in UNSC
On 19 September, in his address at UNGA, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reflected on the historical significance of Germany's membership in the UN, which occurred 50 years ago when the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany joined. He highlighted the importance of their commitment to resolving conflicts peacefully, renouncing revisionism, and acknowledging the realities of the Cold War era.

The Chancellor's speech emphasized the enduring relevance of the UN's core pledge: the prohibition of the use of force. He emphasized the critical principles of upholding the inviolability of borders and the sovereign equality of states, especially in today's deeply divided world. Scholz recognized the pressing need for courage, creative energy, and determination to bridge the deep divides that exist.

US: Support for Ukraine and Climate Crisis
On 19 September, the US President Joe Biden emphasised several key points while addressing the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The major issues brought forth were the ongoing war in Ukraine, which he described as a “direct assault on the post-World War II international order,” the “climate crisis,” and the threat to democracy. Biden began with regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “flagrant violation of international law and the U.N. Charter,” and expressed US’ commitment to supporting Ukraine through sanctions, military assistance, and the strengthening of “NATO's eastern flank.” He also condemned Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports, which is contributing to a global food crisis, and called for Russia to “immediately end” this blockade.

His speech moved on to stressing the urgency of addressing the climate crisis and reiterated the United States' commitment “to leading the fight against climate change” by accelerating the “transition to clean energy.” Along these lines, Biden highlighted how the US was working with its allies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “build a clean energy economy” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy.

Furthermore, Biden expressed concern about the rise of “authoritarian regimes” that have been threatening democracy. He emphasised the need for collective action to promote “human rights.” Aside from this, Biden hailed the United Nations as the “best forum for multilateral cooperation” between all countries, “regardless of size and location.” Bringing forth the US’ commitment to strengthening the U.N. and its institutions, he called for unity and cooperation in addressing global challenges and building a better future for all. The speech concluded with an invitation for all countries to join the United States in pursuing the “path of unity and cooperation.”

Uruguay: On multilateralism and economic repercussions of Ukraine war
On 19 September, Uruguay’s President, Luis Lacalle Pou, reaffirmed his country's “commitment to multilateralism and the United Nations” as the primary platform for addressing global challenges through “multilateral cooperation.” He unequivocally condemned Russia's aggression in Ukraine, standing in solidarity with Ukraine's “right to self-determination and sovereignty.”

Pou highlighted the far-reaching economic repercussions of the Ukraine conflict, including rising “food and energy prices” and disruptions to “global supply chains.” He stressed the need for a “global response” to this crisis, by ensuring “affordable” access to food and energy while supporting “developing countries in coping with the economic impact of the war.” Describing it as “one of the most pressing challenges” in present times, he called for “an immediate end to the war.”


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