World leaders discuss global controversies during UN General Assembly

Photo courtesy of er.usembassy.gov

By Jeremy Mauser || Contributing Writer

This past week, the 73rd United Nations General Assembly has been taking place in New York City. The event, which involves representatives of all 193 member states discussing various international issues, began on Tuesday, September 25 and will officially continue until Friday, October 5. However, most speeches and events concluded on September 28.

The summit, which included prolific political figures like U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gained the most attention for the speeches from the General Debate.

The General Debate involves 124 heads of government, many of whom give speeches on the progress of their states and address relations with other nations.

Donald Trump focused on his America First agenda while addressing the world leaders, saying that his administration defeated the Islamic State and made substantial progress on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

He also spoke of U.S. relations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Specifically, Trump bragged of his “budding friendship” with the dictator and claimed that the regime ceased its nuclear testing, stating missiles and rockets are no longer “flying in every direction.”

However, Trump also told the General Assembly that the United States’ sanctions on North Korea will stay in place until the nation destroys all of its nuclear weaponry.

Trump then spoke negatively of other nations, condemning Iran for its corruption and OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting) member states, including U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, for its high trade prices.

On the topic of globalism, Trump called it a “threat to American sovereignty” and denied the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, the system that prosecutes crimes against humanity. However, he did praise European nations for becoming less dependent on Russian oil.

In the middle of his speech, the President also stated: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

This comment resulted in a verbal response from many in attendance, as the microphones picked up on murmurs and laughter.

Other representatives who spoke did not agree with the statement, criticizing the policies and values of the current U.S. administration in their addresses.

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed Trump directly by questioning his decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the administration’s sanctions on Iran.

However, the weeks-long summit contained many more events than the General Debate. Heads of governments spoke of their relations with other nations and progress toward peace, and non-profits and coalitions discussed the advancements of their respective groups.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres explained Youth 2030, an organization that he started with Korean boy band BTS to advocate for people under 24 years of age, especially in putting them in leadership positions.

Macron, along with other powerful figures like businessman Michael Bloomberg and World Bank Head Jim Yong Kim, addressed climate change with the One Planet Summit.

In the business realm, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May provided the keynote address at the Bloomberg Business Forum, and Malaysia explained the benefits of Islamic banking.

Disease was also a popular topic, as a day-long, high-level clearance meeting discussed how nations should be working to mitigate and control the spread of non-communicable diseases.

Now that the main events are concluded, world leaders will be returning to their countries to hopefully implement the discussions and debates into their policies and actions in the foreseeable future.

First-year Jeremy Mauser is a Contributing Writer. His email is jmauser@fandm.edu.

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