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UNGA Kicks Off In New York

The Oasis Reporters

September 20, 2023








Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 19. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


By Foreign Policy


World leaders gathered in New York City on Tuesday for the 78th annual United Nations General Assembly.

Among the biggest talking points were Russia’s war in Ukraine, human rights abuses against Palestinians, renewed violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the future of the U.N. as we know it.

Kicking off the gathering was Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Following U.N. tradition, Brazil always speaks first—a policy adhered to since 1995. The Latin American leader called for higher taxes on the nation’s wealthiest citizens, stronger protections to combat deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, and greater multilateral cooperation, which he has led through the so-called BRICS group.

“Brazil is back,” Lula said, touting democratic rule as vital to overcoming disinformation and oppression.

Up next came U.S. President Joe Biden, who also centered his speech on global collaboration efforts. As the only leader of a permanent-five member of the U.N. Security Council to attend the summit in person, Biden called on the body to authorize a “security support mission” to help Haiti battle gang violence. He also urged “de-risking, not decoupling” with China and celebrated improving Israeli-Arab relations.

However, Biden wasn’t preaching kumbaya policies with everyone.

The U.S. president unequivocally blamed Russia for its war in Ukraine and renewed Washington’s commitment to support Kyiv.

“If you allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” he asked.

Biden’s pledge to continue aiding Ukraine came as Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to strengthen Moscow’s alliances elsewhere.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin announced that Putin will travel to Beijing in October to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This will be Putin’s first foreign trip since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March for forcibly relocating Ukrainian children, a war crime. Neither Putin nor Xi is attending this year’s U.N. General Assembly.

Other key speakers included Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

But it was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s podium time that caught people’s eyes. Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s neutral position toward Russia’s war in Ukraine, asserted his support for Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia, and called for the U.N. Security Council to expand veto power to more than five nations.

The most anticipated speech, though, came from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky’s first in-person appearance at the summit since the war began was meant to drum up additional international support in the form of arms deals and humanitarian funding.


He also questioned Russia’s membership in the United Nations, calling on the body’s dedication to protecting state sovereignty.

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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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