UN & multilateralism September 2021-

Written by  //  September 28, 2021  //  Multilateralism, United Nations  //  No comments

Alliance for Multilateralism

Ted Anthony: A ‘United’ Nations, navigating a fractured world
(AP) When the United Nations rose from World War II’s rubble, its birth reflected a widespread aspiration that humanity could be lifted up and dispatched down a positive path — if only there was a coherent, informed, unified effort of good faith among countries and their leaders. That would require persistence, compromise and, above all, hope.
Four generations later, the theme of this year’s mid-pandemic U.N. General Assembly leaders’ meeting reflects that ideal: “Building resilience through hope.” But at U.N. headquarters this week, while persistence seems abundant, hope is a scarce commodity.
The General Assembly is unfolding this week under a thundercloud of deep pessimism. Coherence is spotty. Two growing kinds of unwanted information — mis and dis — are scurrying around unchecked. And that unified effort of good faith? It feels absent, if not outright outdated, in an era when those responsible for the rest of us can’t even agree to check at the door to see if everyone is free of the deadly virus that has upended humanity’s best-laid plans.
For nations to commit to being united — and to actually follow through — isn’t easy in a fractured world brimming with problems that often come down hardest on the least powerful. The notion of nations playing on a level field may sound fair and just, but smaller countries insist that principle crumbles when power dynamics come into play.
What’s more, the whole concept of “multilateralism,” an ever-present U.N. priority based on distributed solutions and layers of agreements that gives smaller countries a voice, clashes with the mythology of charismatic leadership embraced by the West for centuries.
Overlaid atop all that is the problem that the United Nations’ structure doesn’t match the era in which it is operating — something its leaders and members have long acknowledged. This is, remember, an organization founded in an age — the mid-20th century — when many of the best and brightest believed the world could act in concert and coherence.
… The emotional, psychological and political baggage of a world reeling from unremitting crises is evident this year. Even compared with two or three years ago, leaders’ words and thoughts are peppered more with desperation, with exhortations like this one from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi: “Let us stand together to save ourselves before it is too late.”
And take the remarks of Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza. When he said that “health has no ideology,” he was making a larger point. Yet he hit on part of the problem: Everything is political. Health, it turns out, has revealed fissures in ideology that were festering elsewhere but that the pandemic laid bare. Same story with climate change, as leaders reeling from a summer of natural disaster sounded ever-louder alarms.

21-27 September
Multilateralism is alive and well: Assembly President wraps up annual debate promising ‘active and inclusive’ 76th session
(UN news) Amidst the global COVID-19 crisis, the President of the General Assembly closed the UN High-Level session on Monday, crediting “sound mitigation measures” and high vaccination rates for its success.
Noting that the UN has “taken its biggest, boldest step yet to emerge from the pandemic”, Abdulla Shahid said: “We must build upon this success and continue momentum”.
“Yet, our true measure of success remains our willingness and ability to engage in dialogue and to put our faith in the multilateral system”, he said.
Mr. Shahid reported that over the last week 194 speakers took the iconic green marble podium, including 100 Heads of State, 52 Heads of Government, three Vice-Presidents, and 34 Ministers.
“I trust you are as encouraged as I am by the strong showing of our return to in-person diplomacy”, said the Assembly President, delighted that the UN’s halls and cafeterias were again “filled with dialogue…debate…laughter…and compromise”.
The Most Important U.N. Speeches This Year
Foreign Policy columnists and contributors break down the good, the bad, and the ugly from the 76th U.N. General Assembly.
The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, with high-level meetings wrapping up in New York this week, was dominated by the major crises facing our world today: climate change, COVID-19, and conflict.
World leaders came together, some in person and some virtually, to deliver speeches in which they explained their countries’ plans to tackle these crises and aired their political grievances. The result was a mix of bold declarations and petty squabbling, calls for unity and calls for condemnation.
Foreign Policy asked several of our columnists and contributors to weigh in on the speeches they found most compelling—or most concerning.

World leaders speak on final day of UN General Assembly
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett began day of speeches that included officials from Belarus, Syria and North Korea.
Naftali Bennett, in his first address as Israeli prime minister, gave a fiery condemnation of Iran, saying the Iran wants to rule the Middle East under a “nuclear umbrella”.
Bennett accused Tehran of crossing all “red lines” when it comes to its nuclear programme. That comes as the European powers are working to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table on the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s foreign minister on Friday estimated talks would start again “very soon”.
World leaders speak on fourth day of UN General Assembly
Friday’s list of speakers includes the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Germany, Nigeria, Pakistan and Japan.
Myanmar will not address world leaders at U.N., Afghanistan will
(Reuters) – No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the annual high-level U.N. General Assembly, a U.N. spokesman said on Friday, amid rival claims for the country’s U.N. seat in New York after a military coup ousted the elected government.
Competing claims have also been made on Afghanistan’s U.N. seat after the Taliban seized power last month. The ambassador for the ousted government is set to give his speech on Monday.
Its relevance at stake, UN reaches toward a new generation
By Sally Ho
(AP) While the mega-popular BTS may croon that they don’t need “Permission to Dance,” the decision to allow the K-pop band to both give a serious speech to world leaders and film a sunny new music video at the U.N.’s distinctive headquarters was another of the many signs that the elders are ready — eager, even — to turn to young people for diplomacy and relevance.
‘Death sentence’: low-lying nations implore faster action on climate at U.N.
(Reuters) – Faced with what they see as an existential threat, leaders from low-lying and island nations implored rich countries at the United Nations General Assembly this week to act more forcefully against a warming planet.
The failure by developed economies to effectively curb their greenhouse gas emissions contributes to rising sea levels and especially imperils island and low-lying nations at the mercy of water.
“We simply have no higher ground to cede,” Marshall Islands President David Kabua told leaders in a pre-recorded speech at the high-level gathering on Wednesday. “The world simply cannot delay climate ambition any further.”
“The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is a death sentence for the Maldives,” President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih told world leaders on Tuesday.
African leaders highlight vaccine inequity in UNGA speeches
Wide disparity in accessing COVID-19 vaccines featured prominently in speeches at the United Nations General Assembly.
The inequity of COVID-19 vaccine distribution came into sharper focus on Thursday as many leaders of African countries, whose populations have little to no access to the life-saving shots, stepped to the podium to speak at the United Nations General Assembly.
Already, the struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic has featured prominently in world leaders’ speeches during the past few days – many of them delivered remotely because of the coronavirus itself. Country after country acknowledged the wide disparity in accessing the vaccine, painting a picture so bleak that a solution has at times seemed impossibly out of reach.
21 September
President Biden urges unity in first UN speech amid tensions with allies
(BBC) In his first address to the United Nations, US President Joe Biden has urged global cooperation through “a decisive decade for our world”.
His calls for unity come amid tensions with allies over the US’ Afghanistan withdrawal and a major diplomatic row with France over a submarine deal.
The US also announced it was doubling its climate finance pledge by 2024.
Reaffirming his support for democracy and diplomacy, Mr Biden said: “We must work together like never before.”
Mr Biden stressed that the US is “not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs”.
The US, he said, “is ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges, even if we have intense disagreements in other areas”.
Qatar’s emir urges world to engage with the Taliban
In speech to the UN General Assembly, Sheikh Tamim addresses COVID-19 pandemic, cybersecurity and conflicts in the region.
(Al Jazeera) Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has called on world leaders to remain engaged with the Taliban in Afghanistan, as he underlined his country’s commitment to contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Speaking at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Tuesday, the emir stressed the significance of the continued support of the international community to the Afghan people “at this critical stage, and to separate between humanitarian aid and political differences”.

17 September
UNGA is key moment for NDCs and climate finance
The 76th session of the UN General Assembly is one of the last major opportunities to increase NDC ambition and deliver on climate finance ahead of COP26.
Anna Åberg and Dr Daniel Quiggin
(Chatham House) …the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) takes place just a few weeks before COP26, one of the most important climate change conferences ever.
Delivering an ambitious COP26 outcome requires governments to raise the ambition of their 2030 emission reduction targets – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – and developed countries to honour their 2009 pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries.
Making substantial progress on both these issues ahead of COP26 is critical, and the UNGA represents one of the last major high-level stages to make important announcements before Glasgow.
Meetings organized on the sidelines of UNGA can help accelerate action. On 17 September, US president Joe Biden is reconvening the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and on 20 September UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and UK prime minister Boris Johnson are co-hosting a climate-focused closed-door meeting with world leaders.
The UNGA – a leaders-level platform on ‘neutral’ ground and with global representation – is an attractive stage for making important announcements. … With the clock ticking to COP26, it is crucial governments use the UNGA to announce stronger NDCs as well as concrete measures – such as phasing down production and use of coal, oil, and gas – essential to meeting climate targets. Special focus is on the G20 members and especially the world’s largest emitter – China.

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