United Nations General Assembly Meets

Mark Shiffer

The annual United Nations General Assembly is meeting to discuss pressing worldwide issues. Up to 193 member countries will be represented as delegates meet in New York City amid tightened security. Since several pipe bombs were set off in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, a suspect has been arrested.

Among other issues to be discussed and debated at the United Nations are ongoing conflicts, terrorism, climate change, health, and poverty. This will be the last United Nations General Assembly hosted by outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Up to 10 people are vying to fill the post, and there is a growing push to have a woman elected as Secretary General. There are also geographical considerations to have different parts of the world represented at the top post.

As always, there are some issues that the United Nations will be eager to talk about. Europe has been overwhelmed by an influx of refugees, mostly arriving due to the civil war in Syria. It is the largest migration in 25 years, and there is no end in sight as the conflict rages on. An uneasy ceasefire has recently been imposed but will likely break down as previous ones have done.

The implications of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union will be a hot topic. Although Britain remains one of the five United Nations Security Council members with veto power, their world influence could decline substantially if they exit the continent, reports Bloomberg.

In Asia, North Korea has launched its largest nuclear test to date. The isolated country threatens to destabilize a powerful regional economy that accounts for 40 percent of the world's growth, according to CNN.

Various heads of state will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly. It will be the last speech by Barack Obama as President of the United States. At last year's Assembly, Obama shook hands with Iran's foreign minister in a prelude to the nuclear deal reached with that country. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may also drop by the United Nations as their presidential race heats up.

The new president of Brazil will be making an address. Michel Temer will be the first world leader facing the United Nations. He has been in power for less than a month since Brazil's former president was impeached. The world will be watching to see how Temer plans to fix Brazil's large but crumbling economy.

There have been some wildly interesting speeches given in past General Assemblies. In 2009, then Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi gave a long rambling 90-minute talk to the United Nations body.

There will be some notable absences from the United Nations at this session. Russia's Vladimir Putin will not be in attendance. He has been a controversial world leader based on Russia's continuing intervention in Ukraine and Syria. Additionally, Germany's Angela Merkel is not coming. She is facing regional elections and is under much pressure for her open refugee policy.

On climate change, there will be a push in the United Nations to get at least 28 more countries to ratify their participation in the Paris Agreement from 2015. That is the number of nations still needed to put the latest climate change action plan into practice. The plan is to prevent the Earth from warming up a further 2 degrees celsius, which is considered a threshold for more extreme weather events.

[Featured Image by Bebeto Matthews/AP Images]