United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly
All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (Good Reads , 2023)
According to the official website, “the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly marks a crucial milestone in the journey towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the urgent need to put the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track.” (United Nations , 2023 ). Therefore, a general debate was held on 19-23, and concluded on 26th of September, on the theme of “Rebuilding trust and restoring global solidarity”, bringing together world leaders in New York. Considering the theme, and “accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all”, the heads of state, government and ministers were gathered “to explore solutions to the intertwined global challenges to promote peace, security and sustainable development”. But why is what was stated live at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) important? Firstly, because the UNGA is the main policy-making body of the United Nations, being composed of all Member States, therefore it provides a unique space for multilateral discussions on the full range of international issues covered by the United Nations Charter, and importantly, each of the 193 Member States of the United Nations has an equal vote (General Assembly of the United Nations , 2023 ). The UNGA also makes key decisions for the UN, as it appoints the Secretary-General (UN SG) on the recommendation of the Security Council, elects members and non-permanent members of the Security Council and approves the UN budget. It meets in regular sessions every year from September to December each year, and the rest of the year as needed (General Assembly of the United Nations , 2023 ). It should also be added that the UNGA priorities during the 78th session are: peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability (General Assembly of the United Nations , 2023 ).
The main purpose of carrying out the present analysis and in subsequent steps compiling an overview and organizing it according to the most mentioned issues, vis a vis the most pressing issues, was to see what the real concerns of heads of state and government were in 2023, as mentioned in their speeches as they were delivered at United Nations General Assembly – during the High-level Week 2023, only during the General Debate (United Nations , 2023 ), mainly of the five states with veto power in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and secondarily of India, Türkiye, Qatar, Israel, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, India, Egypt, Italy, Iran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the EU, since the West Asia and Africa region is of interest to EU, China, Russia, the United States, France and the UK, but also to those countries which are either regional powers or which influence directly or indirectly the countries of Africa or those of the Middle East.
The secondary objective of the research, i.e. to identify the states that referred to Africa, or to the Middle East, in their speeches, started from the fact that a large part of the problems identified by the UN Secretary General can be traced both to West Asia/the Middle East, or to the African continent: the plight of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the situation in Syria, grain deprivation following the conflict between Ukraine and Russian Federation; climate change (i.e. floods form Derna, Libya, the wildfires in Algeria) the ongoing war in Sudan, the instability in the Sahel, coups, terrorism, or the desire expressed by some African leaders even at UNGA 2023 on Security Council reform. To meet the secondary objective of this analysis, countries that referred to Africa and are not from the African continent were selected. To understand which countries and respectively the issues that concern them in detail regarding the Middle East or to the African continent, excerpts from statements attributed to these states and posted on the UN website, or reproduced from other sources, have been provided in the Annex section that can be found at the end of the paper.
The main sources of documentation were United Nations website, as well as its YouTube account, among other sources. It should also be noted that with the aim of carrying out this analysis thoroughly all statements were read/watched in the first instance as posted on the UN website/YouTube, to identify the main issues mentioned in the Address of Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, also by the countries that delivered their speeches to the UNGA, and to select them as categories in a table. It should also be noted that the sources of all statements are listed at the end of the excerpts from each state’s speech in the Annex section.
2. The starting point – an excerpt from the Address of Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, delivered at the beginning of the 78th Meeting of UNGA, on 19 Sept 2023
“(..). Just nine days ago, many of the world’s challenges coalesced in one awful hellscape. Thousands of people in Derna, Libya lost their lives in epic, unprecedented flooding. They were victims many times over. Victims of years of conflict. Victims of climate chaos. Victims of leaders – near and far – who failed to find a way to peace. The people of Derna lived and died in the epicenter of that indifference – as the skies unleashed 100 times the monthly rainfall in 24 hours … as dams broke after years of war and neglect … as everything they knew was wiped off the map. Even now, as we speak, bodies are washing ashore from the same Mediterranean Sea where billionaires sunbathe on their super yachts. (..). Geopolitical tensions are rising (..). We confront a host of existential threats – from the climate crisis to disruptive technologies – and we do so at a time of chaotic transition.(..). For much of the Cold War, international relations were largely seen through the prism of two superpowers. Then came a short period of unipolarity. Now we are rapidly moving towards a multipolar world. This is, in many ways, positive. It brings new opportunities for justice and balance in international relations.(..). Yet global governance is stuck in time. (..). And, indeed, divides are deepening. Divides among economic and military powers. Divides between North and South, East, and West. We are inching ever closer to a Great Fracture in economic and financial systems and trade relations; one that threatens a single, open internet; with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence; and potentially clashing security frameworks. It is high time to renew multilateral institutions based on 21st century economic and political realities – rooted in equity, solidarity, and universality – anchored in the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. That means reforming the Security Council in line with the world of today. (..)”. (United Nations, 2023)
2.1. Key elements/Key phrases from the full United Nations Secretary-General’s address, and their partial explanations/additional arguments
- Reform: to reform multilateralism; to renew multilateral institutions; means reforming the Security Council; because – there are many competing interests and agendas”..”the alternative to reform is further fragmentation. It is reform or rupture.” (SELECTED)
- Division: divides are deepening; divides among economic and military powers.; divides between North and South, East, and West; divides are widening within countries; (NOT SELECTED).
- A need for a global compromise: As I told the G20, it is time for a global compromise; Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise. Effective leadership is Leaders have a special responsibility to achieve compromise in building a common future of peace and prosperity for our common good. (NOT SELECTED)
- Determination to: What we need is determination; Determined to end the scourge of war. Determined to reaffirm faith in human rights. Determined to uphold justice and respect international law. And determined to promote social progress and better lives for all people. It falls to us – through our actions – to apply that determination to the challenges of today. It starts with determination to uphold the Charter’s pledge for peace (NOT SELECTED)
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Beyond Ukraine, the war has serious implications for us all. Nuclear threats put us all at risk. Ignoring global treaties and conventions makes us all less safe; world badly needs Ukrainian food and Russian food and fertilizers to stabilize markets and guarantee food security; we must pursue every avenue to ease the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and beyond;(SELECTED).
- Nuclear disarmament: Nuclear disarmament is at a standstill while countries develop new weapons and make new threats (NOT SELECTED).
- Conflicts around the world, violence, gender based violence, the need for humanitarian assistance, terrorism, poverty, bloodshed, unilateral actions: Across the Sahel, a series of coups is further destabilizing the region as terrorism is gaining ground; Sudan is descending into full-scale civil war, millions have fled and the country risks splitting apart. In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions are displaced and gender- based violence is a horrific daily reality. In Haiti, a country that suffered centuries of colonial exploitation is today overwhelmed by gang violence – and still awaits international support. In Afghanistan, a staggering 70 per cent of the population needs humanitarian assistance with the rights of women and girls systematically denied. In Myanmar, brutal violence, worsening poverty, and repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy. In the Middle East, escalating violence and bloodshed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is taking a terrible toll on civilians. Unilateral actions are intensifying and undermining the possibility of a two-State solution — the only pathway to lasting peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis. Syria remains in ruins while peace remains remote. (SELECTED).
- The international financial architecture is dysfunctional, outdated, and unjust. (NOT SELECTED).
- Climate change: Climate change is not just a change in the weather. Climate change is changing life on our planet. It is affecting every aspect of our work. It is killing people and devastating communities. And this is only the beginning. We have just survived the hottest days, hottest months, and hottest summer on the books. Behind every broken record are broken economies, broken lives, and whole nations at the breaking point. Every continent, every region and every country are feeling the heat. But I am not sure all leaders are feeling that heat. There is still time to keep rising temperatures within the 5-degree limits of the Paris Climate Agreement. But that requires drastic steps now – to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to ensure climate justice for those who did least to cause the crisis but are paying the highest price. We have the receipts. G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of greenhouse emissions. They must lead. They must break their addiction to fossil fuels and heed the International Energy Agency’s findings that new oil and gas licensing by them is incompatible with keeping the 1.5-degree limit alive. To stand a fighting chance of limiting global temperature rise, we must phase out coal, oil and gas in a fair and equitable way – and massively boost renewables.” (SELECTED).
- Gender equality – Because gender equality is not the problem. Gender equality is the solution. “We, the Peoples” does not mean “We, the men. “Women are still waiting for equal opportunities and equal pay; for equality under the law; for their work to be valued and their opinions to count. Around the globe, women’s rights – including sexual and reproductive rights — are being suppressed and even rolled back, and women’s freedoms curtailed. In some countries, women and girls are punished for wearing too many clothes; in others, for wearing too few.” (SELECTED).
2.2. Who is looking for what in the United Nations?
The purpose of this sub-chapter is to identify UN member countries that share approximatively the same concerns – even if only on a discursive level – with the leadership of the United Nations in terms of the problems that the world is facing today, more specifically, among those states that have the right of veto in the Security Council as well as from those countries that may influence politics, security, and economics in the Middle East and in Africa. To fulfil the main objective of the present analysis, five of the most important issues mentioned by the UN Secretary General in his address, namely Security Council reform, Climate Change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Critical Issues and Gender Equality have been selected and included in the table below, on columns. After the analysis of the speeches delivered at the UNGA 2023 of the countries mentioned above, in which the identification of the selected issues was followed, each country whose speech was analyzed was entered in the table one by one, next to the identified element.
Table 1. Referencing selected topics in analyzed countries’ UNGA 2023 speeches.
|The most important topics mentioned at UNGA 2023, New York|
|Countries||Security Council Reform||Climate Change||Russia’s invasion of Ukraine||Critical Issues||Gender Equality||Additional
|France||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, many||Not exactly||Act, support; protect, defend; hunger, food security|
|US||Yes, expansion||Yes||Yes, at the end of the address||Yes, many + Haiti, not Syria||Yes||We are creating; we are focusing,
we..AI, LGBTQ, Fentanyl
|UK||Vague||Yes||vehemently at the beginning of the speech||none, except the calamities from Morocco and Libya, and the war in Ukraine||No||Migration frontier technology; biosecurity;
AI the big keyword of the speech
|China||–||Yes||Yes, but not incriminating anyone||Yes, yet different; Palestine||Yes, refers to diversity and rights in general||Taiwan; sanctions
|Russian Federation||Yes, only in the sense of an appropriate representation||Yes||Incriminating the collective West for using Ukraine||Yes, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Palestine||No||Havana blockade, sanctions,
the Serbian province of Kosovo
|Israel||No||No||Not directly. Rather it uses the conflict to incriminate Iran||Iran is the main enemy and is behind everything that is bad||No||paving the way for a new Middle East|
|Qatar||No||Yes, but without using fancy words||Yes, but not incriminating anyone||Yes, even more than the UNSC SG did||No||Palestine;
Judaization of Jerusalem
|Italy||Yes, more effective||Yes, related to.
|Yes, still a more relaxed tone||Focused on Africa; coups; terrorism, instability||Not in the sense mentioned by the UNSG||Illegal migration
Slave-trade, food insecurity
|Spain||–||Yes||The strongest voice against RF||Extremism, Sahel, Niger, Gaben, Syria, Libya||Yes||Western Sahara; equal justice, artificial intelligence agency|
|Egypt||Yes, UNSC||Yes, floods, drought||Yes, in a peaceful way, see Arab Contact Group||Libya mostly, mercenaries, foreign forces||Yes, in a different way. Value system of one is not superior to another||Libya, water,
|KSA||–||A proactive approach||–||Rather a kind of revision of the past and present regional conflicts;||Mixed messages related to human rights with some referring to women||Palestine a state – capital east Jerusalem
Reliability and stability of the global crude oil markets
|Iran||Not in the sense formulated by UN SG||Yes||A voice that rejects war, and indirectly accuses US of a hidden agenda in UA||Mostly on effects of prolonged conflicts from the region, terrorism, assassination of Gen Q Suleimani||Rather he focuses on the familial values and on the attack on traditional family||Disinformation fight; war against, Islam, war against family, cultural apartheid, Quran burning|
|UAE||Vague||Yes, COP 28 in UAE||Vaguely diplomatic||Vaguely, as th KSA: Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, and Lebanon; and identical as KSA regarding Palestine||Rather on the discrimination regarding women and girls in Afghanistan||Renew demand to Iran to end the three islands occupation|
|Türkiye||Yes, The World is Bigger than Five||Yes, but in a different way than UN SG||In no way accusatory of any party to the conflict||using Da’esh and similar organizations as a front to their own political and economic interests in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel, but especially in Syria and Iraq,” he asserted, warning against terrorist organizations,||–||Daesh|
|Algeria||Yes||Vague||In no way accusatory of any party to the conflict||Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, the Sahel||Equality for all people, including women and youth||Western Sahara, progress in many areas’ desalinization,|
|Morocco||No||Yes||None||Western Sahara, Palestinian issue, political settlement in Libya,||Not in the same way as the UNSG did, rather related to family relations||Moroccan Sahara fabricated regional conflict; hate speech, tough allegation towards Algeria|
|India||Yes||Vague||None||None related to Africa, or the West Asia||Vague||QUAD, BRICS, vaccine apartheid; misuse of market; IMEC, 12U2, G20, “One Earth, One Family, food security, disaster emergency situations, ending plastic pollution, Global South; North-South divides; Solar Alliance|
|EU||Yes||Yes “The planet is boiling”||Yes, a sophistical statement “the Russian Federation, has been waging a war of conquest against a neighboring country which has never threatened it”||None related to the Sahel, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Palestine||None||race for nuclear weapons in the past century or artificial intelligence which — especially in the military domain — is becoming the terrain of geopolitical competition.; the global effort to combat poverty is weakening|
3. What really matters in what was stated?
3.1. Security Council Reform in analyzed speeches
The topic of reforming United Nations and its institutions is not a new one, amid clearly different views on this organization and its role, probably from the very beginning, and various changes related to world population, economies, technological advances, evolution of states among others. This tendency has been mentioned by the United Nations itself, including through the voice of Secretary General António Guterres. While no particular opposition to reforming UN and/or its Security Council has been identified in the speeches, it has to be mentioned that the UK, China, Israel, Qatar, Spain, KSA, UAE and Morocco did not address the reform issue directly in their speeches. As the largest financial contributor to United Nations as of today, the US mentioned the expansion of UNSC. The US is probably not fundamentally against reform, but will probably seek to redirect the reform towards its existing and future interests, as in recent decades. Furthermore, this superpower is confronted with several challenges that might limit its flexibility in strongly negotiating future UN arrangements. The internal political race among the two main parties and the political stances they adopted has resulted in fluctuations of UN funding, especially during former President Trump’s administration. The difference of democratic and republican views is not limited to UN funding only, but the importance of maintaining and funding global institutions like the UN in the first place, vis-à-vis national interests, and their direct projection. The waves of this ideological confrontation, if using a classical term was permitted in this context, have been replicated in other parts of the world as well, as instantiated for example by Brexit. Another aspect related to US interests in UNSC is the state of stalemate with the Russian Federation. There is no possibility to alter the exiting state of affairs without endangering the very existence of the UN, and at the same time its purpose has been recently limited by the confrontation between the two powers. In fact, probably all UNSC permanent members will try to obtain a new type of advantages that can eventually allow them to preserve domination in one way or another.
It must be mentioned that there are proposals for reforms, but precise common criteria for a new arrangement have not been negotiated or agreed upon. For example, the Russian Federation mentions appropriate representation as the goal of reforms, Italy requires the body to become more effective, whereas Türkiye reiterates the motto it adopted to emphasize the need to expand: “The World Is Bigger Than Five.” This concept is promoted through a TV show on one of its national channels as well (TRT) called “Bigger Than Five”.
Very rarely did history experience a case in which power has been shared by former powers with new partners without the use of force. However, there are many open questions related to this topic and whether reforming the UNSC will or can result in a real power transfer as the conflict spaces and goals have shifted fundamentally in recent decades. A reformed UNSCR will probably address conflicts and instruments in depth, will probably take into consideration more unconventional war practices like sanctions and boycotts and will properly address new competition domains like satellites, the North Pole and space race, among others.
3.2. Climate change in analyzed speeches
Except Israel, all analyzed countries reference climate change in a way or another. Algeria and India did so in a vague manner, whereas the UAE seized the opportunity and mentioned COP 28, the event it will host. The EU metaphorically stated that the planet “is boiling,” a clear call for climate action. While the voice of EU comes in parallel to those of countries like France, Germany, Spain, or Italy (in this analysis), it has to be assessed whether Europe is indeed taking steps to reduce climate footprint. While some European oil and gas companies still expand, and the EU is still dependent on foreign hydrocarbon deliveries in an existential manner, the footprint of European industries appears to be reducing one way or another and it does not maintain a large military activity across the globe as the US does. It also does not match the increase in oil and gas consumption of some emerging economies in recent decades. However, the issues of equality in contributions to tackling climate change are still debated and countries that did not benefit from industrialization during the 20th century are demanding compensations. Likewise, there is a difference in stance between countries that are not directly threatened directly by climate change and countries that face immediate existential threats like for example Madagascar or Pacific islands facing ocean level rise.
3.3. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in analyzed speeches
While the US mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine towards the final part of its speech, the UK began its statement with a vehement condemnation of the Russian Federation, including terms such as “brutal invasion” and “most heinous assault.” Spain had a tough stance as well whereas Italy used a softer approach and China did not incriminate anyone. Similarly, the UAE, Türkiye, Algeria and KSA employed cautious language on this topic. Both Egypt and Iran emphasize on peace rather than war, and Iran went on to suggest a hidden US agenda in Ukraine. While the representation of EU at the UNGA must be contextualized, its declaration can be considered in line with that of the UK, for example, although it does not use the same figures of style and mentions only that “the Russian Federation, has been waging a war of conquest against a neighboring country which has never threatened it” and renews the commitment to support Ukraine.
The Russian Federation incriminates the West for instrumentalizing Ukraine against it. While these speeches will not lead directly to any legal action, and they are essentially political tools, this stance is revealing a clear confrontation between the Russian Federation, and its allies on one side, and the United States and its allies on the other side. This large-scale conflict, which has clearly mobilized resources well beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine, is slowly expanding in more fields of international relations and has the potential to spill over in the Balkans, Central Asia and aggravate situations like the one in Syria. While superpowers are following strategic, geopolitical, and macroeconomic interests, developed countries like Germany appear to be taking a toll from this conflict and smaller allies can hardly do anything to maintain a potentially neutral stance. The stakes of superpower confrontation are very high, and they extend to various issues like territories at the North Pole, market shares in global oil and gas market, technological supremacy in strategic industries like semiconductors and electric vehicles, among others. Therefore, beyond the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, it must be added that the level of confrontation between superpowers has generally risen and other fronts like Ukraine may appear unless the situation is urgently addressed at the required levels.
3.4. Critical particular issues in analyzed speeches
In terms of critical issues addressed by countries at UNGA, it must be stated that global powers certainly have a more extensive agenda than countries that aim to maintain influence at regional level or mostly between own borders. With respect to Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the US did not address in any way the situation in Syria. Palestine has been referenced by both China and the Russian Federation. While China underlines the Two-State Solution, Russia mentions the notion of independence. Qatar, a long-term and constant supporter of Palestine holds that “it is not acceptable for the Palestinian people to remain prisoners of the Israeli settler occupation arbitrariness,” in the context of a potential normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Natural disasters from North of Africa and conflicts from this region along with the Sahel, Sudan are mentioned by the UK, Russian Federation, while Italy and Spain specifically call out extremism, terrorism, and instability from the neighboring African regions. The sensible issue of Western Sahara is mentioned by Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. Morocco and Iran, among others, took position on the desecration of the Quran in recent events from Europe. Finally, the EU and India do not appear to address MENA issues in detail, as they focus on other arguments. India is mentioned the Quad, BRICS, an alleged “vaccine apartheid,” while the EU mentions a race for nuclear weapon and an allegedly lost battle against poverty. The United States mentioned the LGBTQ community as well as Fentanyl in the speech, which means that both are topics of great interest to Americans, Italy drew attention to the gravity of illegal migration about which Georgia Meloni said that it is already a bigger business to make more money than from arms or drug trafficking, while Britain’s statement could be said to have shocked by its format and by the main topic that dominated the speech, namely Artificial Intelligence, while Israel used the UNGA 2023 stage to advertise a plan known to those interested in the security, political and military situation in MENA, namely “the New Middle East”. Demonizing Iran was also a goal identified in two speeches, with almost identical wording, that of Israel and of the United States.
As expected, this is the least convergent set of concepts, and reflects one of the core functions of the UNGA, i.e., to increase awareness on issue that do not initially impact all regions.
3.5. Gender equality in analyzed speeches
The topic of gender equality has been addressed by many countries, however not all of them in the same manners. Qatar and Türkiye did not necessarily develop in this direction, while all other countries had rather diverse approaches. It is a given that what Iran and other Muslim countries call Muslim Human Rights represents a rather different or at least differently utilized set of values. Iran focused this part of the speech on family and associated values, Egypt called out double standards and questioned comparisons between systems of values and Algeria called for equality among people, including women and youth.
A softer stance appears to have been taken by the UAE, which focused on women’s situation in Afghanistan, whereas KSA emphasized human rights on a larger scale and mentioned women’s rights in the larger framework.
3.6. Economic and security challenges
UNGA 2023 took place “at a time of unprecedented regression in global progress”, when the earth is getting hotter, when poverty and food insecurity are worsening amidst war and inflation, and humanitarian needs are escalating in scale and cost, and consequently inequality is deepening, as waves of migrants seek even at the cost of their lives to reach the territories of countries, they believe can offer them a better life. Against this backdrop, described in the speeches of many heads of state and prime ministers in terms such as “climate change”, “food insecurity”, illegal migration, “the need to reform the UN Security Council”, “debt”, etc., it has been demonstrated once again that security is closely linked to the economy and the other way round. Therefore, the mention of the BRICS at the UNGA, the G20, India’s invitation to South Africa to join the G20, and finally the mention of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) by either India or Israel cannot be overlooked. But by far the standout speeches at UNGA 2023 were those of Italy and Israel.
As far as Giorgia Meloni’s speech is concerned, it can be said that the following excerpt from the speech reflects a harsh reality, directly linked to the precarious economic situation of many African countries, a situation that has effects on the economy and security of Italy and implicitly of the EU. That is why in what follows that segment is rendered without any intervention on it:
“(..). Italy’s attention is particularly focused on Africa, where Nations already beleaguered by long periods of drought and by the effects of climate change, are now faced with a situation compounded by food insecurity, making them more vulnerable to instability, and easier prey for terrorism and fundamentalism. And this is a choice. To create chaos and spread it. And in this chaos that produces tens of millions of people potentially in search of better living conditions, are infiltrated criminal networks that profit from desperation to collect easy billions. They are the traffickers of human beings that organize the trade of illegal mass immigration. They deceive those who rely on them to migrate to find a better life, having them pay thousands of dollars for trips to Europe they sell with brochures, as if they were regular travel agencies, but those brochures don’t tell you that those trips all too often can lead to death, to a grave at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Because they don’t care whether the boat used is unfit for that type of travel or not, the only important thing for them is the profit margin.(..)”.
In the case of Israel, an important excerpt from Beniyamin Netaniyahu’s passionate speech is worth mentioning, which we reproduce below:
“(..). Two weeks ago, we saw another blessing already in sight. In the G20 conference, President Biden Prime Minister Modi and European and Arab leaders announced plans for a visionary corridor that will stretch across the Arabian Peninsula and Israel. It will connect India to Europe with maritime links, rail links, energy pipelines, fiber optic cables. This corridor will bypass maritime checkpoints, or choke points rather, and dramatically lower the cost of goods, communication, and energy for over 2 billion people. What a historic change for my country. You see, the land of Israel is situated in the crossroad between Africa, Asia, and Europe. And for centuries, my country was repeatedly invaded by empires passing through it in their campaigns of plunder and conquest elsewhere. But today, as we tear down the walls of enmity, Israel can become a bridge of peace and prosperity between these continents. (..). Let us bring forth the blessings of a new Middle East that will transform lands once written with conflict and chaos, into fields of prosperity and peace (..)”.
And this is only part of what has been mentioned in this important week at UNGA 2023, as there have been voices saying that the international financial system needs to be reformed, that the debts accumulated by some countries are far beyond what their populations can bear, and that giving a seat, or even two – to Africa – in the UNSC can change this.
This study has analyzed key concepts and speech elements related to most mentioned and most pressing issues from or related to the MENA region as part of selected countries’ speeches at the 78th UNGA session from September 2023, by using as a starting point the UN Secretary General’s speech from which a number of categories were selected in order to see to what extent the concerns/the most pressing issues expressed by the UN Secretary-General were also shared by the countries whose speeches were analysed. In this sense, the speeches of UNSC permanent members, several selected MENA countries and regional powers like Türkiye, Iran, as well as those of emerging powers with interests in the region, such as India, have been analyzed.
While it is difficult to define the most pressing issues, this term is associated in this study with the subjects adopted by regional countries that have not been identified in the speech of UN Secretary General or those of UNSC permanent members at the same frequency at which most mentioned topics were.
Discourse analysis has indicated four main topics that can be considered the most mentioned in analyzes speeches: United Nations Security Council reform, climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and gender equality. These are constant topics appearing in speeches analyzed, in various ways. The statements basically reflect well-established positions on these matters with small short-term variations in countries’ positions.
Among most pressing issues in the MENA region, it can be distinguished between longer term pressing issue, like the situation of Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and newer challenges like the growing instability in North Africa, disasters associated with climate change and possible repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine in the region. The declarations of regional states on this latter topic reflect a larger division at global scale between an emerging US as Europe’s oil and gas supplier, and Russian Federation and its OPEC allies. This division reflects a possible rift in the way climate change should be addressed, amid strong arguments and speeches but an inexistent agreement to limit the use of fossil fuels in the near future. Such an agreement would also require an underlying agreement on peace, security, and reduction of hydrocarbon fuel quantities for military purposes.
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FRANCE: main verbs used in address: act, support; protect, defend
Security Council reform -?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine The Russian Federation’s war of aggression is also a blow to the most vulnerable. What are our principles? They are those that this Assembly reaffirmed by overwhelming majorities when it condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine, already three times. Nothing, neither morally nor legally, can ever justify invading its neighboring territory, attempting annexations through undignified maneuvers, and martyring its population.
Climate Change- disasters produced by a lack of international community ambition: fires, bad weather and floods have marked the year all over the world demanding action and change, which are urgent — but also possible.; Montreal Protocol, Paris Agreement
Critical issues: Nagorno-Karabakh, the international community must ensure that a population subjected to nine months of a blockade, In Africa, “we believe in African solutions to African problems” she said offers support to regional organizations whenever they seek it: in Niger, where her Government supports ECOWAS in its efforts to restore a constitutional order called into question by force; in Sudan, where a deadly war has been raging for more than five months; and in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In rebuilding the Middle East, France tirelessly supports dialogue and cooperation and, at the invitation of Iraq, will participate in the third so-called “Baghdad Conference” on 30 November — a unique format of dialogue between all the countries in the region.
Gender Equality – women, particularly in Afghanistan
Additional important issues raised; France also defends the principle of food security, by funding WFP deliveries to the most vulnerable countries. France also defends the principle of the inviolability of the historical heritage of nations, the legacy of the cultures of humanity. In Mosul and Timbuktu yesterday, in Odessa today or in Lviv. Our support for the International Criminal Court is expressed everywhere: in the Sahel to judge the jihadists that France had subdued yesterday and who are once again threatening an entire region; France became the fourth-largest donor country to those threatened by hunger, with a massive increase in food aid to almost €1 billion, benefitting 67 countries, including Nigeria and Sudan; to provide access for all to the financing necessary for the fight against poverty and energy transitions, in line with the ambitious; killing of the Blue Helmets in 2022
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/france, pdf format in French language
United States; we are creating; we are focusing, we…
Security Council reform; rather expanding, than reforming UNSC, but reforming WTO, stronger voice in IMF
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: interesting at the end of the speech, we stand with the brave people of Ukraine, as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom; an illegal war of conquest brought without provocation by Russia, against its neighbor Ukraine; but Russia, alone, Russia, alone bears responsibility for this war: if we abandon the court principle of United Nations Charter, to appease an aggressor than any member states in this body feel confident that they are protected? I stand with a brave people of Ukraine
Climate Change: Russia alone bears responsibility for this war; Russia alone that stands in the way of peace; an illegal war of conquest, brought without provocation Wildfires ravaging N America, S. Europe, a fifth year of drought in Horn of Africa, tragic floods in Libya, fossil fuels; climate-proof the world; last year I signed the largest investment ever; We are working with the Congress to quadruple. Our climate financing; Global Methane Pledge, endorsed by 150 countries; Paris Agreement; SDG
Critical Issues: Haiti, Biden mentioned most of issues mentioned by UN SG, even more; except Syria; Israelis and Palestinians – two states fort wo people; Coups in W & C Africa; Corruption, political violence; Terrorist threats; coups in Africa
Gender equality: We need to ensure that women and girls benefit fully from our progress; we must continue working to ensure that women and girls enjoy equal rights and equal participation in their societies;
Additional important issues raised; AI, emerging technologies, LGBTQ, education worldwide, healthcare systems, fighting disease; Rejoining UNESCO; to build a more sustainable, integrated Middle East; Israel greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors is delivering positive and practical impacts; Quad partnership with India, Japan, Australia; Declaration on Migration and protection; FENTANYL abuses in Tehran, Xinjiang, Darfur; Racial, ethnic, religious minorities, people with disabilities ; Iran`s destabilizing activities that threaten regional and global security and remains steadfast in our commitment that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon; DPRK`s continued violations of UNSCRs, but we are committed to diplomacy…bring down the denuclearization of the Korean. We are focusing on economic corridors, in Africa and from India to Europe; Lobito Corridor Will extend across Africa from the western port of Angola to DRC to Zambia, was thinking, regional connectivity and strengthening commerce and food security in Africa; we announced at the G 20 connect India to connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel will support over trinities and investments across the continent; “we are for he risking not decoupling with China“; we also stand ready to work together with China; Russia is shredding, long-standing arms control agreements, including announcing the suspension of new Start and withdrawing from the conventional forces in Europe treaty;
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/united-states-america; pdf format, English language
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; keyword-Russian Aggression and AI – OLIVER DOWDEN, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Secretary of State for the United Kingdom
(The UK representative’s speech is one worth analyzing for its message, format and especially the subliminal messages conveyed. Except for references to natural disasters in Libya and Morocco, he dwelt a considerable length on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but for the most part he spoke merely about the role and importance of artificial intelligence for the future of humankind)
Security Council reform – In fact, because tech companies and non-state actors often have country-sized influence and prominence in AI…..this challenge requires a new form of multilateralism.
Climate Change – One of the biggest challenges: As we meet here this evening millions of people in Morocco and Libya continue to struggle with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and catastrophic flood.; This week nations have gathered here to recommit to addressing the biggest challenges we face. Climate change… with catastrophic weather events telling us to act, now.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – One of the biggest challenges: Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine… an attack on a sovereign member of the United Nations by a Permanent Member of its Security Council… the most heinous assault imaginable on everything this organisation stands for, and was founded to prevent… with consequences felt – not just by the brave people of Ukraine – but by millions more across the globe. Those hit by food shortages – particularly in developing countries – are Putin’s victims too. Russia could end this war tomorrow…Putin could end this war tomorrow. That is what the world demands.But until that happens, the United Kingdom will stand alongside Ukraine. Whatever it takes. For weeks..for months..if necessary..for years.
Critical Issues – Nothing referring to any of the current issues mentioned by the UN Secretary-General, such as Palestine, Yemen, Sahel, Sudan, etc.., except the conflict in Ukraine, and the natural disasters from Morocco and Libya
Gender Equality – None
Additional important issues raised – One of the biggest challenges Migration; a different challenge: It is going to change this United Nations, fundamentally. Artificial Intelligence – the biggest transformation the world has known. AI of today, we need to prepare for AI of tomorrow. Frontier AI. Because in AI time… years are days… even hours.The “frontier” is not as far as we might assume. Our first ever AI Safety Summit in November will kick-start this process….. with a focus on frontier technology; biosecurity; AI revolution will be a bracing test for the multilateral system, AI can be a democratizing tool, open to everyone
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/united-kingdom-great-britain-and-northern-ireland, pdf format in English language
China: on behalf of China His Excellency Han Zheng Vice-President, 21.09.2023
Security Council reform: –
Climate Change: – Regarding climate change, he reiterated the need to fully implement the Paris Agreement, to stop building any new coal-fired power projects abroad, and to vigorously support developing countries to build more green energy projects. He called on developed countries to do more to reduce emissions and provide developing countries with financing, technology, and capacity-building support. China will continue to prioritize ecological conservation and the advancement of green and low-carbon development.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Regarding Ukraine, he stated that ceasing hostilities and resuming peace talks are the only way to settle the crisis, with China ready to continue playing a constructive role to attain peace.
Critical Issues: – “Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China’s territory since ancient times,” he stressed; he urged that nuclear war “must not be fought” and nuclear weapons “must not be used; noted China as the only permanent member of the Security Council that has pledged no first use of nuclear weapons, and he recognized the “great importance” of conventional arms control and China’s forthcoming ratification of the United Nations Firearms Protocol. In the Middle East, he underscored that China will continue supporting the just Palestinian cause of restoring lawful national rights, which is at the core of the Middle East issue. The fundamental way out lies in a two-State solution. In Latin America, “China firmly supports the Cuban people in their just struggle” to defend their sovereignty and oppose external interference and blockade.
Gender Equality: – Regarding human rights, he reiterated China’s opposition to politicization and double standards, particularly the use of human rights and democracy as a political tool to interfere in other countries. He reaffirmed that diversity of civilizations is an invaluable asset for human development, and that different countries should prosper together by respecting each other and pursuing common ground while setting aside differences.
Additional important issues raised: called on the international community to “follow the direction of a multipolar world” and to “make global governance more just and equitable”. He emphasized that there is only one China in the world represented by the government of the People’s Republic of China, as the sole legal government for the whole of China. . No one and no force should ever underestimate the firm resolve, strong will and power of the Chinese people to safeguard their sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Realizing China’s complete reunification is a shared aspiration,” and his Government will “continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and utmost effort”. More broadly, “China is firm in supporting the international system with the UN at its core,” he reiterated, and opposes hegemony, power politics, unilateralism, and a cold war mentality. He stressed that China “will never practice hegemony and expand,” and that “independence is the defining feature of China’s diplomacy”. Marking the tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, he cited over 3,000 cooperation projects and 16,000 freight services on the China-Europe Railway Express last year as examples of the initiative’s vitality. Furthermore, China will remain a developing country and “natural member of the Global South,” firm in upholding their legitimate rights and interests.
Source: Statement summary from https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/china there is no written statement in other language, than Chinese
Russian Federation – His Excellency Sergey Lavrov Minister for Foreign Affairs, 23 September 23
Security Council reform – Also highlighting the increasing need to expand the Security Council, he called for solely eliminating the underrepresentation of the countries of the world majority — Asia, Africa, and Latin America — and appealed for fair ways of forming the United Nations Secretariat so that citizens of NATO and European Union countries stop their excessive dominance.
Climate Change; Underscoring the West’s commitment to provide developing countries with $100 billion annually to finance climate-mitigation programmes, he called for these broken promises to be compared with the amounts that the United States, NATO, and the European Union have spent “supporting the racist regime in Kyiv — an estimated $170 billion since February 2022”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; a new world order is being born “right in front of our eyes”, while the rejection of the principle of equality, along with its total inability to negotiate has long been a “calling card” of the collective West.; the West continued the militarization of the Russophobic Kyiv regime which was brought to power as a result of a bloody coup and was used to wage a hybrid war against the Russian Federation. Recent joint exercises between the United States and European NATO allies, he reported that they included testing scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons in the Russian Federation.
Critical Issues: he West still believes it is superior to the rest of humanity, he noted, He also demanded the end of the blockade of Havana and the policy of economic suffocation of Venezuela by the United States, as well as the lifting of sanctions on Syria. “Any measures circumventing the Security Council must be ended,” he emphasized. Welcoming the return of Syria to the Arab family, he also noted that Palestinians have been waiting for over 70 years for their State. In addition, he expressed hope that, with the assistance of the United Nations, Libya can prepare for the general election. He added: “The tragic development of the situation in Sudan is nothing other than the West’s failed experiments.” He also spotlighted the deteriorating situation in the Serbian province of Kosovo and the attempts by Brussels to impose so-called mediation services on Azerbaijan and Armenia
Gender Equality –
Additional important issues raised; recalling acts of burning the holy Qur’an, insults to the Torah and persecution of Orthodox clergy in Europe. the West is truly an ‘empire of lies’,” he said, recalling the concrete political assurances given to Moscow regarding the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Source: UN press release GA/12538; only the statement summary
Israel: His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister, 22 09.2023
The Prime Minister of Israel began his speech in his characteristic style, using a language specific to children`s stories and references to the historical past that are difficult to prove scientifically: over 3 millennia ago, the leader Moses told the people of Israel, as they prepared to enter the promised land, that they would face two mountains, which were the places of a blessing and a great curse. Their fate would be determined by the choice they made between these sites, he said, adding, “We face such a choice today.”
Security Council reform –
Climate Change –
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine –“the Iranian drones are bringing death and destruction to innocent civilians in Ukraine“ (United Nations , 2023 )
Critical Issues; the common threat posed by that country had brought Israel and Arab States closer together,; This success came after a quarter century of failed peacemaking and good intentions, based on a false idea that relations would not be normalized with Israel unless a peace agreement with the Palestinian State was concluded, he went on; “We must not give the Palestinian State a veto against a peace process,” he stressed, adding that they represented 2 per cent of the Arab world. the path to genuine peace with Israel’s Palestinian neighbours must be based on truth, not on “lies or the endless vilification of the Jewish people”, he stressed, underlining the need for the Palestinian leadership to stop glorifying terrorism and put an end to its ghoulish ‘pay to slay’ policy. Citing his youthful experience as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, he said, “Those who suffered the curse of war are committed to the path to peace.” It will enhance the prospects of peace with the Palestinians. It will encourage a broader reconciliation between“ Judaism and Islam, between Jerusalem and Mecca.“ (Al Jazeera, 2023 )
Gender Equality –
Additional (important) issues raised: recalling his 2018 address at the Assembly, during which he issued a warning about the “tyrants of Tehran” who were “a curse to their own people and a threat to the world” “amazing breakthrough” by his country in 2020, when it brought about four peace treaties with four Arab States, he said that these events placed Israel on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: historic peace between his country and Saudi Arabia. Citing the announcement during the recent Group of 20 (G20) Summit of “visionary plans” to connect India to Europe with maritime links, rail links and energy pipelines, he said Israel can become a bridge of peace and prosperity, paving the way for a new Middle East ; events over the past few years have helped Israel “tear down the walls of enmity”, representing “a monumental change and a pivot of history” that brought the prospect of prosperity and peace to the entire region; indispensable role of the United States in these peace efforts, he said, “Just as the Abraham Accords were achieved with the lead of [former United States] President Donald Trump, peace in Saudi Arabia will be achieved with the lead of [United States] President [Joseph] Biden.” the “fanatics of Iran”, who intended to thwart peace, by pouring money into spreading the tentacles of terrorism across the Middle East and the world; his country aims to do all it can to prevent nuclear weapons from falling;Turning to the artificial intelligence revolution, he said that nations must address the dangers it poses quickly and together, so that the promise of utopia does not turn into dystopia.
European Union, His Excellency Charles Michel President of the European Council, 21 September 2023, started his address as follows: the United Nations was founded to protect us from our demons”
Security Council reform – He also called for United Nations reform on voting rights, representation and the role played by multilateral organizations, voicing support for the initiative to limit veto rights in the case of mass atrocities.
Climate Change – climate crisis is wreaking havoc; The planet is boiling. There will be no miracle if we do not decide to mobilize the massive financing that is necessary.” The international community has collectively committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. However, if it sticks to the plans announced to date, the warming of our planet will reach 2.5°C by the end of the century. The European Union has increased its targets for the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, he pointed out, calling for the tripling of renewable objectives and the doubling of energy efficiency objectives by 2030. With natural hazards coming one after another, prevention is key and trade is a powerful tool to fight climate change and ensure prosperity,
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is worsening food insecurity and causing an energy crisis. However, for 19 months, a permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation, has been waging a war of conquest against a neighbouring country which has never threatened it. The General Assembly has repeatedly condemned Moscow’s war against Ukraine which constitutes a violation of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The European Union will tirelessly support Ukraine in exercising its right to self-defence, he emphasized.
Critical Issues – none related to the Sahel, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Palestine…
Gender Equality –
Additional (important) issues raised. – An example of this is the frantic race for nuclear weapons in the past century or artificial intelligence which — especially in the military domain — is becoming the terrain of geopolitical competition.; he global effort to combat poverty is weakening, He advocated for a multipolar world, which cooperates and progresses towards more democracy and more respect for human rights. world is torn apart by poverty and injustice, The economic situation of vulnerable economies has been greatly affected by the COVID‑19 crisis and the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Italy – Her Excellency, Giorgia Meloni, President of the Council of Ministers, 20 September 2023
Security Council reform – Italy supports the need for a reform of the Security Council that will make it more representative, transparent, and effective. ACouncil that can guarantee a fairer geographical distribution of seats and that can strengthen regional representation as well; that emerges from an order frozen in time, established by the outcomes of a conflict that ended eighty years ago, in another century, in another millennium, so that everyone has the opportunity to demonstrate their worth at the present time. “
Climate Change – Italy’s attention is particularly focused on Africa, where Nations already beleaguered by long periods of drought and by the effects of climate change,
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Russia’s war of invasion of Ukraine tells us precisely this: that over those who want to take us back to a world of dominion, neo-imperial wars ; The repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine overwhelm us all like a domino effect, but mainly impact nations of the world’s south. It’s a war waged not only against Ukraine but against the poorest Nations
Critical Issues: Italy’s attention is particularly focused on Africa(..) making them more vulnerable to instability, and easier prey for terrorism; Italy wants to contribute to the construction of a model of cooperation capable of collaborating with African nations so they may grow and prosper from the great resources they possess. Countries are invaded, wealth is more and more concentrated, poverty is rampant, the slave-trade is re-emerging – all of this seems poised to put the sacredness of the human being at risk.
Gender Equality – there are women brought to Europe forced into prostitution to repay the enormous debt they incur with their traffickers,
Additional important issues raised: Italy’s attention is particularly focused on Africa, are now faced with a situation compounded by food insecurity, making them more vulnerable to instability, and easier prey for terrorism and fundamentalism. They are the traffickers of human beings that organize the trade of illegal mass immigration. Can we really pretend to not see that no other criminal activity in the world today is more lucrative than the trafficking of migrants – when it is the UN reports themselves that have shown how this business has reached – by volume of money – the same level of drug-trafficking and has largely surpassed that of arms-trafficking? universal crime of slavery, today tolerate its comeback under other forms, that the commercialization of human life continues?
With the Rome Process, launched in July with the Conference on Migration and Development, we have engaged Mediterranean and various African nations in a process that follows two main paths:defeat the slave-traders of the Third Millennium, and at the same time, tackle the root causes of migration, with the objective of guaranteeing the first of rights, that is the right of not having to emigrate, of not being forced to leave one’s home, one’s family, to cut off one’s roots, and being able to find in one’s own land the conditions to achieve one’s own fulfillment.
Here too, we must have the courage to tell it like it is. Africa is not a poor continent. To the contrary, it is rich with strategic resources. It holds half of the world’s minerals, including abundant rare earths, and 60%of arable lands that are often not utilized. Africa is not a poor continent, but it has been often, and still is, an exploited continent. Too often the interventions of foreign nations on the continent have not respected local realities. Often the approach was predatory, and in spite of this fact – even paternalistic. Mattei Plan for Africa”, artificial intelligence – this new technology may offer great opportunities in many fields, but we cannot pretend to not understand its enormous inherent risks. We need global governance mechanisms that ensure that these technologies respect ethical boundaries; that technological evolution is put at the service of humanity and not vice versa. We must guarantee the practical application of the concept of “Algor-ethics”, that is, ethics for algorithms.
Spain – His Excellency Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, President of the Government, 20 September 2023
Security Council reform –
Climate Change- I would like my opening words to be an expression of the Spanish people’s solidarity with the victims of the earthquake in Morocco and of the flooding in Libya. Spain stands, and will continue to stand, with these two countries to mitigate the consequences of these terrible tragedies in every way possible. The first difficult choices I am going to talk about relate to the climate emergency. We have just experienced, in quick succession, the hottest months since records began. And extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent, with devastating effects on every continent. According to the experts, we are now in uncharted territory. It is no longer a case of trying to stop temperatures from rising, but of mitigating and, as far as possible, adapting to a situation that is already here. We are going to be contributing €225 million to the Green Climate Fund, €20 million to the Adaptation Fund and over €17 million to instruments aimed at strengthening climate justice, particularly the funds for the most vulnerable countries and the loss and damage funds. Just today I signed the Treaty of the High Seas on Spain’s behalf. Building on the historic Kunming- Montreal Agreement, this new treaty represents another step forward in protecting the balance of nature.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine- On the 10th of this same month, a young Spanish aid worker lost her life in the Bakhmut region of Ukraine. Yet when faced with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and contrary to Putin’s expectations – Europe’s response to the atrocities has been steadfast and united, making it clear that we are not going to sit back and let anyone attack the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter. I once again condemn Russia’s unwarranted and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.
Critical Issues; wave of extremism and reactionary thinking that is rising all over the world, propelled by movements that all share the same strategy; threat looming over democracy in many places around the world. We witnessed it in Washington D.C. and Brasilia, and are now seeing it in Niger and Gabon.; The 26 July coup in Niger has serious implications. Together with Mauritania, Niger was one of the only countries in the Sahel with a democratically elected government. Weakened by years of decline, the region risks becoming a series of failed states, and this instability could spread to neighbouring regions such as the Gulf of Guinea, already suffering at the hands of terrorists.; Many conflicts still rage around the world, and others have reached a deadlock. I would therefore like to reiterate the Spanish government’s emphatic support for the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoys for the Middle East Peace Process, Syria, and Libya.
Gender Equality – Marginalizing and criminalizing disadvantaged minorities. Rejecting equality and feminism. And questioning human, civil and social rights. There is no better antidote to reactionary extremism than feminism. It is undoubtedly the flagship cause of our century – the century of women. This commitment to gender equality also needs to be reflected in multilateral relations and, more specifically, in the allocation of top jobs at the institutions themselves
Additional important issues raised; The second area in which we have difficult decisions to make is the defence of democracy, fundamental rights, equality, and social justice. The third and final challenge I would like to bring up is the defence of multilateralism and a rule-based international order. Regarding the Western Sahara, Spain supports a mutually acceptable political solution, within the framework of the United Nations Charters and the Security Council resolutions. The work of the Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General is crucial in this respect, and has our full backing. We will continue to support the Saharawi population in camps, as we have always done, and carry on our role as Western Sahara’s leading international donor of humanitarian aid. Spain is committed to supporting the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, providing resources and knowledge, in the development of multilateral governance in this area. We would like to host the headquarters of the future international artificial intelligence agency. That is why we need to strengthen our transatlantic alliances with countries such as the US and Canada, as well as our Asian, African and Latin American partnerships.
Source: UN press release GA/12532, and the full statement translated in English in pdf format
Qatar – His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Amir, 19 September 2023
Allow me first to offer my sincere condolences to His Majesty King Mohammed VI and to the brotherly Moroccan people for the victims of the devastating earthquake. I also extend my condolences to the government and people of the brotherly state of Libya for the victims of the floods there.
Security Council reform-none
Climate Change – There are obstacles at the level of the international community, mainly represented in the failure to subject contradictions and competition between major countries on transient issues to minimum binding principles owing to the variations in governance systems. These issues which concern all of humanity include climate change, environmental matters in general, poverty, and the blatant injustice represented by occupation, racism, and war crimes.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – The war in Europe drags on. Along with Russia and Ukraine, it has consumed the entire Europe, and has been affecting the whole world in vital areas such as energy and food. we reiterate our call on all parties to comply with the United Nations Charter and the international law, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and resort to a radical peaceful solution that is based on these principles.
Critical Issues – There are peoples who are grappling with child labor, starvation, unemployment, and civil wars, while developed countries guard their borders against the influx of refugees fleeing this suffering, as if the peoples on earth are living in two different eras. It is not acceptable for the Palestinian people to remain prisoners of the Israeli settler occupation arbitrariness, Israel also responds to Arab peace and normalization initiatives with more nationalist and ultra-orthodox intransigence and extremism that is reflected in government coalitions and further settlement expansion, in addition to the Judaization of Jerusalem, attacks on holy sites. Qatar provides political, humanitarian and development support to the brotherly Palestinian people and contributes towards rebuilding the Gaza Strip which is reeling under the siege, in addition to its continuous contribution to UNRWA funds In the case of Syria, it is not permissible to condone the gross injustice that has befallen the brotherly Syrian people as if it’s destiny. outbreak of violence in Sudan this year, which has left a dire impact on the brotherly Sudanese people and exacerbated refugee crisis. We condemn the crimes perpetrated against civilians in the capital Khartoum and the Darfur region, and we call for holding perpetrators to account, In brotherly Lebanon, where danger hangs over the state’s institutions, we stress the need for finding a sustainable solution to the political vacuum; Concerning the Libyan issue, to achieve tangible results to resolve Libyan crisis. Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, we continue to coordinate international efforts; In the context of talking about our region, we reiterate our appreciation of the détente witnessed this year, as represented by constructive dialogue and re-establishment of ties between the sisterly countries, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of Türkiye.
Gender Equality – none
Additional important issues raised; genetics and artificial intelligence, reality falsification, invasion of personal privacy, educational process disruption by facilitating plagiarism, and spiraling effect of disinformation and human deception ploys. The responsibility also prompts the State to strengthen its role in providing humanitarian aid, exerting mediation efforts and resolving conflicts that affect our region and the world. Allow me to pinpoint the necessity for combating racism and campaigns of incitement against entire peoples, religions, and civilizations; burning the Qur’an or by other forms of triviality
Source: UN press release GA/12530 and the address translated in English, pdf form
Egypt – His Excellency Sameh Hassan Shoukry Selim Minister for Foreign Affairs 23 September 2023
Security Council reform – Egypt was and will remain an adamant proponent of both the Ezulweni consensus and the Sirte Declaration as the bases of Security Council expansion. Only the granting of two permanent seats for Africa, with full rights and privileges, is sufficient to correct this injustice done to our continent… Within that context, Egypt aspires to contribute effectively to BRICS, in advocating for the interests and ambitions of the global south, which currently composes no less than 30% of the global economy.
Climate Change – We face an existential threat represented by climate change. Climate disasters have become a tragic daily occurrence, whether manifested in devastating floods, or deadly hurricanes, or persistent drought.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – he serious implications of the conflict in Ukraine have clearly illustrated that the security and stability of one party to the conflict cannot be addressed to the exclusion of another and that the responsibility of conflict resolution is indeed incumbent upon all of us, not only those directly affected. With that in mind, Egypt has rapidly moved – in concert with its Arab and African milieu- to establish the Arab Contact Group and to participate in the African Leaders Initiative to stop the bloodshed and pursue a peaceful settlement to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
Critical issues – The challenges facing our world are numerous, intractable, and interrelated, and the international community is far from effective solutions to the scourges of armed conflict, food insecurity and terrorism, to name a few. Egypt also fully supports a political solution in Libya based on the principle of full national ownership. It is imperative to end the transitional period in Libya by convening concurrent presidential and parliamentary elections at the earliest possible date. All foreign forces, fighters, and mercenaries must unconditionally withdraw from Libya within a set time frame.
Gender Equality – One of the cornerstones of reforming the international system is increasing its ability to promote human rights in their political, economic, social, and cultural aspects, away from politicization, double standards, or attempts to impose concepts disregarding cultural and social specificities; by which authority have some come to believe that their value system is superior to another?
Additional important issues raised – First: In a world whose main attribute is interdependence and globalization, no one is secure unless everyone is secure… and not on the selective application of these principles and practicing dual standards; debt, water, Libya
Source: Source: UN press release GA/12538; https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/egypt
Iran (Islamic Republic of) His Excellency Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi President, 19 September 2023
Security Council reform – The equation of western domination for the world no longer works. The old liberal order, which served the interests of insatiable dominators and capitalists, has been pushed aside and, in a word, the project of Americanising the world has failed. What is key to the new international order is to abandon global domination and replace it with regional orders and cooperation.
Climate Change – Also, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to share its unique natural and technical capacities in the field of clean energy production and transmission with other countries to reduce and manage the harmful effects of climate change.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Regarding the war between Ukraine and Russia, I would like to emphasize once again the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in rejecting war as a solution to any conflict. We do not consider the war in Europe to be in the interest of any
European side. Rejecting any ceasefire plan in the Ukraine war by the Americans shows that America has a long-term plan to weaken Europe.
Critical issues – Securing trade corridors, downgrading countries from allies to dependents, hindering the economic growth of independent countries, and creating proxy wars in Asia and Europe are part of this sinister chain. Now that our region has passed two decades of imposed tension and crisis and the resistance of free nations in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan has borne fruit, the prospects for the region can only be guaranteed by deepening mutual political trust and extensive economic cooperation, and
endogenous security. Occupation, terrorism, and extremism are among the most important serious threats in West Asia, which disrupt any order based on the interests of the nations of the region. The continued occupation of Palestine and parts of Lebanon and Syria by the Zionist Regime and depriving the oppressed Palestinian people; Today’s situation in Afghanistan is another manifestation of the effects of Western intervention in the region, which led to the killing of more than 170,000 men, women and children
Gender Equality – war against family; Fake narratives of marriage and gender are actually an attempt to eliminate transcendental concepts such as mother, father and natural family;
Additional important issues raised – Due to the long experience of colonialism and repeated military aggression, the West Asian region has lost many opportunities for development and progress. keywords: fighting terrorism; past vs future; war against Islam, war against family; disinformation; media attack against Iran; Nuclear weapons have no place in the defence doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Terrorism; Immigrants who themselves are victims of colonial policies.; cultural apartheid ; ant Islamism
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/iran-islamic-republic, statement in pdf format, English language
Saudi Arabia – His Highness Faisal bin Farhan Al Furhan Al-Saud Minister for Foreign Affairs 23 September 2023
Security Council reform –
Climate Change – On climate, he called for a transition to clean energy, citing the launch of the Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine –
Critical issues – Affirming that security in the Middle East requires acceleration of a just, comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue, he reiterated the call for an independent State based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Noting that a resolution to the Syrian crisis would help stabilize the region and the world, his Government led negotiations with Iran, culminating in the Beijing Agreement on resuming diplomatic ties and communication between the countries. Turning to Yemen, he noted that Saudi Arabia is working to alleviate the crisis and the suffering of its people. On Lebanon, he called for all parties to initiate political and economic reforms to allow it to overcome the current crisis; similarly, Iraq’s security and stability are essential for entire region. He voiced deep concern over the escalation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, calling for de-escalation, noting that his Government hosted parties to conflict in Jedda, while working with the United States to provide aid to the population, and helping to evacuate people by sea. In parallel, Riyadh presided over a high-level donor conference, resulting in commitments to provide more than $1.5 billion in aid. All foreign interference in Libya’s internal affairs must end. Afghanistan should not serve as a refuge for terrorist organizations, he said, adding that women in that country should be permitted to access education and employment. The international community must honour commitments to rid the world of nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East.
Gender Equality – A mixed message: Rather about human rights: are of crucial importance, as his country aims to ensure a comprehensive and lasting recovery based on the individual. New and amended laws exist to ensure the dignity of citizens and protect decent livelihoods. Afghanistan should not serve as a refuge for terrorist organizations, he said, adding that women in that country should be permitted to access education and employment. On human rights, he noted that the international community has made great strides in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism and extremism, which runs counter to all religions, beliefs and races. Calling for the international community to counter hate and Islamophobia and prevent the burning of the holy Qur’an, he warned “against the gravity of these acts”. He further welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence, against persons based on religion or belief” (document A/HRC/28/47).
Additional important issues raised – Saudi Arabia is focusing on collective cooperation with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to promote the reliability and stability of global crude oil markets.
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/saudi-arabia; only the summary statement provided by the UN website
UAE Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy Minister for International Cooperation
23 September 2023
Security Council reform – ?
Climate Change – Noting the climate crisis is an important juncture for the global community, she said Dubai is hosting COP28 in two months and will focus on intensifying international cooperation to achieve the highest ambitions possible. “We must restore hope and be optimistic regarding our ability to confront climate change,” she said, adding that the energy sector’s transformation will provide a great opportunity to enhance and sustain human and economic development. Financing, she added, is an essential tool in this process.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – No direct reference. Resorting to the use of force instead of relying on political solutions, and dividing the world into an ‘us against them’ mentality, leads to further chaos and withers our diplomatic tools,” she said, underscoring the importance of respecting diversity, political differences and development disparities.
Critical issues – goal is to push for the “Zero Problems with Neighbours Principle”, refusing to accept that conflicts in the region are inevitable, and it believes that security, stability and prosperity will be restored in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Iraq and Lebanon. Her Government also supports an independent Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Gender Equality – discrimination against women and girl in Afghanistan(https://youtu.be/ewqA5BvaL9w?feature=shared, minute 10:38)
Additional important issues raised – emphasized the importance of maintaining an international order based on respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of States. Regional organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the African Union, play a critical role with their understanding of local contexts.; region ravaged by weapons and extremist ideologies; she renewed her Government’s demand to Iran to end its occupation of the three United Arab Emirates islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa. She then stressed the Gulf Cooperation Council’s position that calls on Iraq to urgently address the negative consequences of a recent ruling of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court regarding the agreement between Kuwait and Iraq on the regulation of maritime navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway.;burning Holy Quran in Sweden, attacking a church in Iraq, attacking a Jewish cultural center Argentina.
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/united-arab-emirates; video statement; https://youtu.be/ewqA5BvaL9w?feature=shared
Türkiye: His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan President, 19 September 2023
highlighting increasingly complex global challenges, said that unfortunately it is impossible to draw a more optimistic picture of the world’s future.
Security Council reform – He went on to underscore that the institutions established after the Second World War no longer reflect today’s world and the Security Council has ceased to be the guarantor of the world’s security and, instead, has become a battleground for political strategies of only five countries. Against this backdrop, he urged for a global governance architecture, emphasizing that “the world is bigger than five and a fairer world is possible”.
Climate Change – He recalled that Türkiye recently faced one of the biggest natural hazards in terms of magnitude and the area affected, with more than 50,000 people losing their lives. Similarly, Libya was subjected to heavy destruction and significant loss of life caused by storms and floods where 12,000 people perished and thousands still remain unaccounted for; Similarly, Libya was subjected to heavy destruction and significant loss of life caused by storms and floods where 12,000 people perished and thousands still remain unaccounted for.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – As a country that has pioneered numerous initiatives to strengthen peace and stability, Türkiye attaches great importance to the Secretary-General’s call for a New Agenda for Peace. “Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, we have been endeavouring to keep both our Russian and Ukrainian friends around the table with a thesis that war has no winners and peace will have no losers,” he said, stressing the need to step up efforts to end the war through diplomacy, on the basis of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. Highlighting that his country ensured the delivery of 33 million tons of grain through the Black Sea Grain Initiative on the global markets, he said the failure to implement the agreement has left the world facing a new crisis. He expressed hope that this humanitarian bridge that extends to the countries in dire need will benefit from negotiations undertaken by Türkiye.
Critical issues – Conflicts, wars, humanitarian crises, and political tensions are getting increasingly difficult to deal with. Terrorism — used as an instrument of proxy wars in Syria, Africa, and the Sahel region — is causing irreparable damage to the increasingly fragile international security climate, he observed, noting that the areas of operations of terrorist organizations are spreading like an epidemic. Moreover, the signs of xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia reached alarming levels in the past year, while climate change and natural hazards have become an everyday reality in peoples’ lives. Turning to the situation in Syria, he said the humanitarian tragedy in that country is now marking its thirteenth year and is worsening the living conditions of everyone in the region, regardless of their origin and faith. It is becoming increasingly important to end the crisis with a comprehensive and sustainable solution, he said, noting that the devastating impacts of the 6 February earthquake which affected 14 million people in his country was also deeply felt in Syria; “We are sick and tired of the hypocrisy of those who are using Da’esh and similar organizations as a front to their own political and economic interests in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel, but especially in Syria and Iraq,” he asserted, warning against terrorist organizations, paramilitary groups, mercenaries and local elements that are used as tools of proxy wars. He also called for a just and sustainable solution to the Cyprus issue that can no longer be realized on the basis of a federation model; expressed support to the Palestinian people; supported talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia; and voiced support for Afghanistan’s people who are in dire need of humanitarian support.
Gender Equality –
Additional important issues raised – As a first response to Libya, Türkiye sent three vessels and three planes, along with 567 relief personnel, hundreds of vehicles and thousands of tons of food, shelter, and sanitary supplies. He also noted that his country’s non-governmental organizations are participating in the relief efforts in the region with their own means and capabilities; Türkiye’s vision that eliminates global injustice, addresses economic inequality and produces peace, security and stability. “It’s our call for the establishment of an international system for the benefit of all humanity,” he added. He recalled that Türkiye recently faced one of the biggest natural hazards in terms of magnitude and the area affected, with more than 50,000 people losing their lives. As a first response to Libya, Türkiye sent three vessels and three planes, along with 567 relief personnel, hundreds of vehicles and thousands of tons of food, shelter and sanitary supplies. He also noted that his country’s non-governmental organizations are participating in the relief efforts in the region with their own means and capabilities. Against this backdrop, he detailed Türkiye’s vision that eliminates global injustice, addresses economic inequality and produces peace, security and stability. “It’s our call for the establishment of an international system for the benefit of all humanity,” he added.
Source: UN press release GA/12530, only the state summary as it is published in the UN website
Algeria – His Excellency, Abdelmadjid Tebboune President, 19 September 2023
Security Council reform – Reforming the Organization’s major organs to expand their transparency is crucial, as is revitalization of the General Assembly — the only organ that truly reflects the international community’s diversity. “It is a key element of strengthening democracy among States,” he said. Progress on Council reform is also essential. Algeria will continue its efforts to change the historic injustices against the African continent and support oppressed persons fighting for their freedom.
Climate Change – Vague
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Vague, not in the sense of demonizing Russia
Critical issues – Algeria is closely following events in neighbouring nations to find peaceful solutions, he said. He supported the United Nations’ efforts to find a Libyan-led political solution to the crisis in that country. On Mali, he said Algeria is playing a leading role in efforts to overcome obstacles to peace and stressed that force must be avoided. He urged a return to the constitutional order in Niger through peaceful means and respect for the rule of law, warning: “Foreign military intervention could have dangerous repercussions for the region as a whole.” He asked all parties to the conflict in Sudan to resolve their differences as the conflict casts a shadow on the entire region and the Sahel. Algeria stands ready to share its experience in combating terrorism, which must be a priority for the entire African region, he said
Gender Equality – Creating equality for all people, including women and youth, is pertinent; and making women and youth a driving force in a sustainable Government will help achieve equality for all, he stressed.
Additional important issues raised – Algeria has made sustainable development a priority and achieved progress in many areas, including education, health care, electricity and water, including a significant desalinization programme; western Sahara
Source: Source:UN press release GA/12530, statement summary
Morocco – His Excellency. Omar Hilale, Chair of the Delegation 26 September 2023
“OMAR HILAL (Morocco), recalling the recent earthquake to strike his country, detailed his nation’s efforts aimed at addressing its consequences. To finance the reconstruction as well as social and economic development of affected areas over the next five years, $12 billion was allocated»
Security Council reform – none
Climate Change – yes
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – none
Critical issues – “Western Sahara” On regional issues, he expressed support for international efforts to reach a permanent political settlement in Libya and for an independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Gender Equality – To promote women’s and family rights, the Personal Status Code is currently being reviewed, he informed
Additional important issues raised – “Moroccan Sahara,”. his country remains committed to a political solution to this “fabricated regional conflict”. Further, he drew attention to the General Assembly resolution — tabled by Morocco and adopted by consensus — on deploring violence against sacred books. Hate speech on social media a main trigger for global instability and extremism.
India – National Statement by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the General Debate of the 78th UNGA, September 26, 2023
“Mr. President, the most populous nation and the fifth largest economy in the world knows that its progress makes a real difference to the world. Especially when so many nations identify with us for reasons of history, geography and culture. They follow our experiences closely and evaluate our solutions for their larger relevance.»
Security Council reform – This significant step in reform should inspire the United Nations, a much older organization, to also make the Security Council contemporary. Broad representation is after all, a pre-requisite for both effectiveness and credibility; The reform of international financial institutions (IFI) has been given due weight, as has the resolution of debt vulnerabilities.
Climate Change – Climate action too cannot continue to witness an evasion of historical responsibilities. The power of markets should not be utilized to steer food and energy from the needy to the wealthy.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – None
Critical issues – terrorism, extremism, and violence. Similarly, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry picking.
Gender Equality – only “the salience of women-led development in building an inclusive and progressive society.”
Additional important issues raised – Mr. President, the world is witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil. As it is, structural inequities and uneven development have imposed burdens on the Global South.; Our vision of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few.; G20, The New Delhi G-20 Leaders’ Declaration articulates our collective ability to do so. East-West polarization; North- South divide; the ‘Voice of the Global South’ Summit. ..at India’s initiative, the African Union was admitted as a permanent member of the G20. By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent which has long been its due…» corruption; hunger, ending plastic pollution, food security, QUAD, BRICS, I2U2, IMEC. National interest’s vs global good; Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient, we have built development partnerships with 78 nations across geographies; we have also been First Responder in disaster emergency situations. The people of Turkiye saw that in February, as did those in Syria.; vaccine apartheid; the Summit of the Future;
Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/78/india, pdf format found also at: https://www.mea.gov.in/Speeches-Statements.htm?dtl/37148/National_Statement_by_External_Affairs_Minister_Dr_S_Jaishankar_at_the_General_Debate_of_the_78th_UNGA.
About the author:
Prof. Ecaterina MATOI, Program Director, MEPEI, Bucharest, Romania