Global policy experts from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations – Dean Courtney Smith, Professor and Chair Martin Edwards, and Hugh Dugan, Sharkey Scholar and Fellow, Center for UN and Global Governance Studies – were asked by the international media to analyze the opening of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA): "A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges."
The United Nations staff explained that the significance of this 77th gathering of United Nations diplomats "stems from the recognition that the world is at a critical moment in the history of the United Nations due to complex and interconnected crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, humanitarian challenges of unprecedented nature, a tipping point in climate change as well as growing concerns about threats to the global economy. It is therefore necessary to find and focus on joint solutions to these crises and build a more sustainable and resilient world for all and for the generations to come."
The sustainability agenda and obligations to the next generation took substantial focus, but many there have acknowledged that the world's population is seeing historic growth and the number of people over age 60 has surged with those aging find themselves more vulnerable in many conflict areas as well as around climate issues.
Providing his own insights, Professor Edwards discussed how the UNGA global agenda looks at the lack of attention given to the world's aging population, with Matt Sedensky, Associated Press national writer.
Professor Edwards shared:
"The global agenda is already pretty crowded right now. So much of the discussion about youth is framed of what is our obligation to the next generation. Politically, I this it's easy for sometimes leaders to talk about youth in a sense, and aging there might not be as ready a constituency."
Speaking to CNBC, Professor Dugan, former Senior Advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representatives to the UN, discussed how the UNGA enables quiet diplomacy to occur. He explained that the "power to convene" is the strength of the United Nations.
"The Security Council is imperfect, and some say that it has been paralyzed but it is not dead. And one of the strongest features of the UN, although there are many disappointments in history, the fact is that it is drawing 160 world leaders together on the heels of a very solemn event in London [Queen Elizabeth's funeral]. They've jetted across the ocean to be there. So the power to convene, to call a meeting and have people show up is the strength of the UN, and those that don't show up, find that if they are not at the table they are going to be on the menu."
As the UNGA opened in New York with full, in-person official meetings happening for the first time since the pandemic, issues raised both in open session and off camera included those on climate change, worsening food and fuel crises, and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, explained Dean Smith, when speaking to Toni Waterman for CGTN.
"I think there will be a greater range of countries talking about the need to cooperate regarding the safety of the nuclear power plants, and especially Zaporizhzhia, the need to provide assistance to the millions of refuges that have been created by the crisis, the need to accelerate grain shipments."
CGTN reporter Caroline Malone questioned Professor Edwards about the invasion of Ukraine and diplomatic shifts away from the UN.
Professor Edwards shared:
"We are also not talking about debt because of course what's happening all over the developing world is the economic aftershocks of COVID plus inflation, have made it harder for a lot of countries to service their debt."
Read AP interview, Older people left out as UN speeches repeatedly invoke young.
Watch the CNBC interview, The UN Security Council is imperfect but it is not dead.
Watch the CGTN interview with Dean Courtney Smith.
Watch Professor Martin Edwards' CGTN interview, Top issues expected at UNGA agenda.
Learn more about the Center for U.N. and Global Governance Studies.
Categories: Nation and World