New York (TIP): The 67th UN General Assembly Session opened at the headquarters of the world body in New York on September 18.
Addressing the opening session, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders to do more in resolving the pressing issues facing the international community and described the fighting in Syria as “a regional calamity with global ramifications.”
Noting that “brutal rights abuses continue to be committed” in Syria by both government forces and the opposition forces, Ban called for a unified response to the crisis. He stressed that “the international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control”.
“I call on the international community – especially the members of the Security Council and countries in the region – to solidly and concretely support the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi,” the UN chief said.
Ban also expressed concerns over “continued violence in Afghanistan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” and urged the governments of “Sudan and South Sudan to resolve all remaining post-secession issues” as early as possible.
Noting Somalia’s successful completion of the political transition process, he urged the international community to do more in addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country brought on by drought and conflict stricken Sahel region.
Acknowledging that Libya recently held its first free elections in half a century, Ban said leaders in Myanmar have shown courage and determination in moving on the path of democracy and reconciliation.
On the decades long conflict between Israel and Palestinians, Ban stressed that the two-state solution remains “the only sustainable option” to end the conflict. Noting that “continued growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory seriously undermines efforts toward peace,” he urged both parties to return to the negotiating table to resolve the crisis.
In an apparent reference to Israel’s threat to launch unilateral military action against Iran for halting the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program, Ban denounced “the language of delegitimization and threats of potential military action by one state against another.”
“Any such attacks would be devastating. The shrill war talk of recent weeks has been alarming – and should remind us of the need for peaceful solutions and full respect for the UN Charter and international law,” Ban stressed.
Ban also urged the international community to sincerely pursue the “goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.” He called on Iran to “prove the solely peaceful intent” of its nuclear program, and urged North Korea to “move toward de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” He also called upon world nations to ensure all UN Security Council resolutions are “implemented in full and without delay.”
Scores of the world’s heads of State, government and other high-level officials are attending the ongoing General Assembly session in New York. They are expected to present their views and comment on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on October 1.
What is the UN General Assembly?
The United Nations General Assembly is a forum of all of the members of the United Nations that takes place for several months each year. Held in New York, the annual convening of member states allows the UN to address the most pressing global issues of the moment.
Or, as the UN puts it on their website, “In September, every year, the world gathers in New York to tackle humanity’s most intractable problems.” The UNGA is in session through mid-December.
What does the UNGA do?
The 193 member-nations who assemble for the UNGA use the opportunity to deliberate and vote on major decisions, “such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters,” according to the UN. Six committees, each focused on a theme such as international security or law, address topics more deeply.