United Nations faces list of issues ahead of General Assembly

UN General Assembly

As world leaders gather in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, a handful of pressing issues, including climate change, faces them.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

From the burning oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the smoldering Syrian civil war to the streets of Sudan, tensions between and within nations are on the rise. The United Nations Secretary General is well aware of the challenges.

“The world is at a critical moment on several fronts the climate emergency, rising inequality, an increasing hatred and intolerance, as well as an alarming number of peace and security challenges. Tensions are rising everywhere,” said Antonio Guterres the United Nations Secretary-General.

The problem is the United Nations is only united when its members states are. And when it comes to tensions with Iran, the path to peace in Syria and many other issues, the U.N. Security Council is divided. Powerful member states like the U.S. preferring to go it alone rather than build consensus.

Even on the issue of climate change, which will dominate the first day of this week of high diplomacy, leaders from the U.S., Brazil and other big nations won’t be at the podium.

Until recently, it was hoped that this week could be an opportunity for direct talks between the U.S. and Iran.

The EU wanted to revive the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal. A deal that was working, but discarded by Washington, and now, being dismantled by Iran, too. The bombing of Saudi oilfields has dashed that diplomatic effort. A path to peace in Afghanistan is also on the rocks after the U.S. abruptly abandoned a deal with the Taliban.

Then that perennial powder keg, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Even the departure of the hawkish U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton hasn’t kick started talks on its nuclear weapons program though there is still hope.

After nearly three years of “America First” foreign policy and with a new UN Ambassador finally in place the hope is that Washington might be in the mood for a bit of multilateralism.