UNGA expecting high-level debates on Syria crisis, Iran nuclear deal

World Today

U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa, from Ecuador, addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly opened with some pressing global issues up for debate. CGTN’s Nathan King explains the likely focus for this year.

As the 2018 session of the United Nations General Assembly gets underway, some of the biggest global problems remain big. The civil war in Syria, the war in Yemen and the chaos in Libya will all be up for discussion. Still, there are signs of hope.

A year ago, the U.S. and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) looked like they could be heading to war. Now, the talk is of peace.

“This time – unlike last year and the famous ‘fire and fury,’ what we will see is President Trump will talk about the great steps forward with North Korea,” Jonathan Cristol, of Bard College theorized.

Even so, the Iran nuclear deal is under serious strain after a unilateral pullout by Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to use his speech at the U.N. (and a Security Council meeting he is chairing) to press U.S. allies to abandon it as well.

On other issues, the United Nations continues to be indispensable. The fight to tackle climate change continues. U.N. members will come together to end tuberculosis, back freed trade, multilateralism, and continue to support fragile peacekeeping operations around the globe.

“For each major issue that the U.N. can’t do anything about it, in some cases, bungles – there are the sort of low-level constant sort of international regulatory things and smaller things that go under the radar – that I think it does very well,” Cristol explained.

Expect criticism of big powers, especially for Washington’s withdrawal of funding for Palestinians, its recent attack on the International Criminal Court, and its continued opposition to the climate change accord.

But while the U.S. is seen to be stepping back from global governance, others are stepping up.

“It’s looks like the U.S. is pulling back, but I don’t think that is actually what is happening,” Anton Fedyashin of American University said. “What’s happening is the emergence of new players that are blocking the United States determining the rules of the global game by itself, exclusively. That’s the big change.”

While the headlines will likely be about U.S. President Donald Trump (and what he says about pressing global concerns) the United Nations will be embracing a much broader agenda at UNGA 2018. It’s an agenda that extends far beyond the U.S. and the latest Presidential tweet.

Jonathan Wachtel discusses the work dynamics of the UN General Assembly

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Jonathan Wachtel about what this time of year is like for someone working at the UN General Assembly. Wachtel is the Former Director of Communications for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.