The UN is faced with doing more with less as international leadership gets tested in the COVID-19 era.
The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly continues with a fourth day of high-level meetings and addresses from world leaders.
Friday’s list of speakers includes the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Germany, Nigeria, Pakistan and Japan.
On Thursday, leaders from across Africa condemned the unequal distribution of coronavirus vaccines, as access remains extremely limited on the continent.
This year’s gathering kicked off with a stark appeal from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned the world is on the “edge of an abyss” that can only be averted through global cooperation.
Here are all the latest updates:
Japan PM says North Korea nuclear activities pose threat
Japan Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said recent “nuclear and missile activities” by North Korea posed a threat to his country and that of the international community.
“I strongly hope that North Korea will engage in diplomatic efforts and the dialogues between the United States and North Korea on denuclearisation will progress,” he said.
Yoshihide also said the issue of abductions by North Korea a matter of “serious concern for the international community and also a top priority for Japan”.
Greek leader says Turkey ignoring UN resolutions on Cyprus
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotkis of Greece said it was “regrettable” that Turkey continued to “ignore a series of UN Resolutions” on Cyprus and was insisting on the “militarisation of the island”.
“It continues its illegal violation of Cyprus’ maritime zones and airspace and violates UN resolutions on the fenced area of Varosha,” he said.
Mitsotakis said the solution could only be found on the basis of the UNSC Resolutions, which called “for a mutually acceptable settlement of a bizonal, bicommunal federation”, and that any conversation regarding a two-state solution was “simply unacceptable”.
Bangladesh’s PM Hasina calls for ‘elimination’ of nuclear weapons
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated its commitment to nuclear disarmament.
“We firmly believe that the ultimate guarantee of international peace and security lies in the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,” Hasina said.
The prime minister told the General Assembly the investment in women’s advancement and empowerment has allowed Bangladesh to progress the most out of any country in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
She also stressed the need for the equitable distribution of vaccines and called for immediate measures to combat climate change.
South Sudan says urgent need to build unified army
Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, one of five vice presidents of South Sudan, said a decade after the country gained its independence, it was still working to settle a conflict agreement with its neighbour to the north.
“There is an urgent need to form a unified professional army under one command and control,” De Mabior said, and warned about the expected withdrawal of Ethiopian peacekeeping forces.
“We are determined to learn from the past and look forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue, revitalised cooperation and being more effective in pursuing our shared objectives,” she added.
EU’s Michel on COVID crisis, Afghanistan failure
European Council President Charles Michel has urged countries to keep up the fight against COVID-19.
Michel asked all nations to recognise the gap in vaccination between developing countries and more wealthy nations and stated, “This is not acceptable.
“We are aware of the fact that winning and vanquishing this pandemic is not enough,” he said adding, “there’s a need to prevent next pandemics.”
Michel also deplored the failure in Afghanistan and reiterated the importance of the Indo-Pacific region for global stability.
Thunberg joins climate rally in Berlin ahead of German election
Tens of thousands of environmental activists – including Greta Thunberg, the face of a global youth climate movement – have rallied outside Germany’s parliament ahead of a general election this weekend to demand that politicians take stronger action to curb climate change.
Friday’s protest in the capital, Berlin, was part of a string of rallies around the world amid dire warnings the planet faces dangerous temperature rises unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming years.
Read more here.
Senegal leader appeals for help against armed rebellion
Senegal’s president Macky Sall opened his address with an appeal for strong support to African states fighting against armed groups.
He said that “terrorism remains a global threat” and that a collective effort must be made so that Africa does not become a “safe haven for international terrorism”.
Speaking about the vaccine, Sall urged for the facilitation of access to the vaccine, saying that “the ‘each man for himself’ mentality will not end the pandemic”.
Nigerian President Buhari calls for more vaccine equity
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called for a more equitable global distribution of vaccines against COVID-19.
“I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines in all countries so that together we can fight and maintain the pandemic,” Buhari said in his address to the UNGA.
“The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains makes this even more urgent.”
Abbas condemns Israel, says occupation cannot continue
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said “current and former” Israeli governments have persisted in evading the two-state solution based on international law while “insisting on pursuing occupation and military control over the Palestinian people”.
“These unilateral plans will not achieve security and stability for anyone, as they undermine efforts for a genuine peace, and prolonged occupation will entrench the reality of one apartheid state,” Abbas said.
“This is a moment of truth. It seems we are at a crossroads. We have had enough. The situation cannot continue. And our people cannot endure it any longer.”
Moreover, Abbas called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “convene an international peace conference”, while also issuing an ultimatum.
“We must state that Israel, the occupying power, has one year to withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem,” he said.
“Circumstances on the ground will inevitably impose equal and full political rights for all on the land of historical Palestine, within one state.”
UN redoubles green energy push to save climate, boost access
The United Nations chief asked the world to redouble its renewable energy efforts to avert a climate emergency and address global energy poverty.
“Today, we face a moment of truth,” said Antonio Guterres, who described the mandate as a “double imperative – to end energy poverty and to limit climate change.
“And we have an answer that will fulfil both imperatives,” Guterres said. “Affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for all.”
The comments came as governments and the private sector pledged to spend more than $400bn at a high-level summit that called for an acceleration of efforts to avert catastrophic climate change.
Lebanon’s president calls for international support amid crisis
Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has appealed for more international support amid the country’s dire financial crisis, which he blamed on corruption and mismanagement, during his address to the UNGA.
“We are relying on the international community to fund vital projects, whether in the public or private sector, in order to revive the economic cycle and create new job opportunities,” Aoun told the gathering via a recorded video message.
Aoun also called for support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, while adding “we reject all proposals of integrating Syrians in Lebanon”.
The statement comes as UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet updated casualty numbers on the Syrian civil war. She said the total number of those killed – including civilians and fighters – between March 2011 and March 2021 is more than 350,000.
President of Cyprus targets Turkey in fiery speech
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades used his UNGA address to condemn Turkey and Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
In July, United Nations talks to unify the island nation stalled.
Turkish Cypriots declared Northern Cyprus a Turkish republic in 1983, giving it the formal title of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), but the UNSC immediately denounced it as “invalid” and “incompatible with the 1960 Treaty” that established Cyprus’s independence from Britain.
Anastasiades said that Turkey’s proposal of resolving the conflict outside of the UN framework “reinforces the valid arguments that Turkey’s end game is not to solve the Cyprus problem, but to turn Cyprus into its protectorate”.
Turkish-Cypriot President Ersin Tatar came to power last October promising a two-state solution.
Drive to end energy poverty gets jump start at United Nations
The COVID-19 pandemic has set back decades of progress on poverty and development – including the drive to eliminate energy poverty for good by the end of the decade.
On Friday, world leaders gathered for the UNGA are expected to recommit to pledges to end energy poverty – and take those efforts a step further by hashing out a road map to get it done.
The UN High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE) is expected to see nations commit to accelerating previous pledges to advance clean energy for all by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Member states will be recharging efforts to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets set out by the global 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.
Read more here.
Iran says talks on nuclear deal to resume ‘very soon’
Iran will return to negotiations on resuming compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “very soon,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters on the sidelines of the UNGA.
“We are not seeking to quit the negotiating table,” Amirabdollahian said.
“We will certainly pursue a negotiation that serves the rights and interests of our nation.”
The top diplomat also described conversations between Iranian and Saudi officials as “constructive” and he said Tehran had put forward dynamic proposals towards achieving peace in Yemen.
Youth return to streets worldwide to fight climate change
Young people around the world began taking to the streets to demand urgent action to avert disastrous climate change, in their largest protest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The strike takes place five weeks before the UN COP26 summit, which aims to secure more ambitious climate action from world leaders to drastically cut the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet.
A landmark UN climate science report in August warned that human activity has already locked in climate disruptions for decades – but that rapid, large-scale action to reduce emissions could still stave off some of the most destructive effects.
Top UN official urges Myanmar action ‘before it’s too late’
Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, has warned of a human rights catastrophe under military rule in Myanmar and urged the international community to do more to prevent the conflict in the country from getting worse.
“The national consequences are terrible and tragic – the regional consequences could also be profound,” Bachelet said in a statement. “The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”
The warning comes as the military rulers of Myanmar have sought representation in the UN. More than 350 Myanmar and international civil society organisations have urged the global body to continue to recognise the representative of the removed government, Kyaw Moe Tun.
The UN Credentials Committee is expected to consider the issue in the coming weeks.
Read more here.