After a week of discussions on member states’ priorities, challenges and impacts, the high-level segment of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly came to a close on Monday, with the president noting that the sheer number of participants indicated the importance of the Debate in international affairs.
“This year, we have heard 190 speakers, including 76 heads of state, 50 heads of government, four vice-presidents, five deputy prime ministers, 48 ministers and seven heads of delegation,” the president said. General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, summarizing the first in-person general debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While only 23 speakers were women, he echoed the words of former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who moderated the first platform at this year’s General Assembly of Women Leaders, saying that they “have a punch”.
“New era” of humanity
Unable to sum up 190 statements in a few sentences, Mr Kőrösi instead focused on some of the common themes, sparking a growing awareness that “humanity has entered a new era”.
Faced with complex challenges and multi-level crises, he said significant transformations are underway, stressing that the “basic conditions” of global cooperation have changed, leaving “a world of new challenges, shifting priorities , changing roles and changing ways”.
“New pages of history are being written, with new divisions and new alliances, new grievances and new successes”, declared the president of the Assembly.
Spotlight on Ukraine
Then he said the room echoed in agreement that the war in Ukraine had to end.
He recapped member states’ concerns about shortages, inflation, refugees, nuclear security and the “dangers of disinformation and propaganda”.
“Yet being the largest and most acute, the war in Ukraine is one of almost 30 armed conflicts in the world,” the senior UN official said, adding, “and no d ‘among them only gets better’.
The third topic resonating throughout the speeches highlighted the dangers of climate change.
Discussions followed on countries experiencing simultaneous droughts and floods; unsustainable production and consumption patterns; and plastic pollution filling the oceans and killing fish, “even when waves from rising seas drown shorelines,” he continued.
Yet despite calls for global net zero and climate justice, some still seem unconvinced that “growing our economies can be balanced with limiting emissions and preserving biodiversity,” Mr. Kőrösi.
Calls were also heard to improve human rights and meet the needs of those most vulnerable to exploitation.
“There is a cost to speaking out against human rights violations,” he acknowledged, “but freedom of expression is strongly supported.”
The President of the Assembly recalled speeches affirming that diversity was “a strength, not a liability” and drew attention to the high-level event on minorities marking 30 years of a landmark declaration on rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. .
Revitalization and Reform
He also noted support for revitalizing the General Assembly to better respond to interlocking global crises and reforming the Security Council to reflect the realities of this century.
The senior UN official then underlined the goal of a peaceful post-COVID world with increased confidence, where we can work together to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He recalled that his vision statement for “solutions through solidarity, sustainability and science” is a step in this direction.
“We must build on what unites us” and define “the most burning challenges” in terms of crisis management and transformation, he said.
“To deepen solidarity, you have to build trust.”
With the aim of reinforcing universally accepted and appropriate actions, the President of the Assembly plans to launch a series of consultations, including with the scientific community.
He said he was also considering preparations for the UN Water Conference, the Sendai Mid-Term Review and the SDG Summit.
“When I spoke to you a week ago, I said that things… go wrong when we don’t seize the opportunities that come our way,” Kőrösi said. “Our opportunity is here and now. Let’s act”.
Before concluding, he thanked everyone who made the High Level Week a success.