World leaders return to UN and face many worsening crises

World leaders will return to the United Nations for the first time in two years on Tuesday with a formidable program of escalating crises to contend with, including the still raging COVID-19 pandemic and an ever-warming planet.

Other pressing issues are rising US-China tensions, the unstable future of Afghanistan under its new Taliban rulers, and ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Syria and the besieged Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Last year, no leader came to the UN because the coronavirus was sweeping the world, so all of their addresses were pre-registered. This year, the General Assembly offered leaders the choice of coming to New York or staying online, and more than 100 heads of state and government decided to appear in person in the General Assembly Hall. .

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, who opens the week-long event, “will make no effort to voice concern about the state of the world, and he will present a vision for bridging the many gaps that stand in the way. to progress. “Said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

Traditionally, the first country to speak is Brazil, whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, is not vaccinated. He reiterated last Thursday that he was not planning to get the vaccine anytime soon, justifying his refusal by saying he had COVID-19 and therefore had a high level of antibodies.

A key issue ahead of the meetings was the COVID-19 entry requirements for leaders in the United States – and at UN headquarters itself. The United States requires a recent COVID-19 vaccination or test, and the United Nations will enforce an honor system whereby anyone entering the complex certifies that they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not tested positive in the past 10 days.

The three most watched speakers on Tuesday morning are expected to be US President Joe Biden, appearing at the UN for the first time since his loss to Donald Trump in the November election, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who in a surprise gesture will deliver a video speech, and the recently elected radical Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Ahead of the opening of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Guterres issued a stern warning that the world could be plunged into a possibly more dangerous new Cold War unless the United States and China mend their relationship. ” totally dysfunctional ”.

The UN chief said in an interview this weekend with The Associated Press that Washington and Beijing should cooperate on the climate crisis and negotiate on trade and technology, but “unfortunately today we don’t have only one confrontation “including on human rights and geostrategic issues mainly in the South China Sea.

Speaking on Biden’s speech last week, Richard Gowan, director of the International Crisis Group at the UN, said “the really important question is exactly how he frames relations with China.” He predicted that Biden “won’t be as outspoken in criticizing China as Trump has been, particularly in 2019 and 2020”, but rather “will try to portray China as a country that challenges the order. rules-based world and a country that should not be given the leadership of the international system. On the latest list of speakers released earlier this month, China’s speech was due to be delivered by a deputy prime minister on Friday. But the UN confirmed on Monday that Xi would give the country’s video address instead.

His speech and any commentary on the American rivalry will certainly be closely watched and analyzed.

Other leaders are due to speak in person at the meeting, which ends on September 27, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, the president of Venezuela, and the prime ministers of Japan, India and the United Kingdom. Uni as well as the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Leaders who have delivered pre-recorded statements this year include the Presidents of Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. French President Emmanuel Macron was supposed to deliver a prerecorded statement on Tuesday, but the government has said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will now deliver the country’s speech on virtually the last day. France and China have reacted angrily to the surprise announcement by Biden, alongside Australian and British leaders, of an agreement to supply Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. Australia had signed a contract worth at least $ 66 billion for a dozen French conventional diesel-electric submarines and their construction was already underway.

Le Drian told a press conference on Monday that there is a “crisis of confidence” between the United States and its oldest ally, France, as well as Europe, which has been excluded from the new alliance. American-British-Australia focused on the Indo-Pacific and aimed at confrontation with China. He said Europeans “should not be left behind” and must define their own strategic interests.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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