UN set to host over 190 heads of state, ministers for UNGA

UN set to host over 190 heads of state, ministers for UNGA

UN set to host over 190 heads of state, ministers for UNGA
Leaders from 195 nations will gather here next week for the UN General Assembly session with the issues of the war in Syria, climate change, terrorism, refugee crises, tensions in Korean peninsula expected to take centrestage at the high-level meetings.

The 71st session beginning on September 19 and running through September 26 will be the last for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as US President Barack Obama. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the General Debate on September 26 while Pakistan's Prime Minister will address on September 21.

"This year's high-level week at the United Nations comes at a critical time. We will seek progress in resolving protracted conflicts and rising tensions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East," Ban had told reporters this week.

His spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters yesterday that a total of 195 leaders including 86 Heads of State, a Crown Prince, five Vice Presidents and 51 Ministers will address the General Debate.

About 1,100 requests for bilaterals have been put through, apart from the ones with the Secretary-General and 545 meetings have been requested, which include special side events and regularly scheduled meetings.

The Secretary-General will have 124 bilaterals and he will participate in 62 events. Diplomatic sources here said Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar will arrive on September 19 to participate in various high-level sessions.

Dujarric had said that the UN General Assembly session is the "World Cup of diplomacy. It’s the Oscars of diplomacy. It’s also an interesting fashion week." The week will kick off with a summit on September 19 to address large movements of refugees and migrants. This is the first time the General Assembly has called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on this topic to come up with a blueprint for a better international response.

World leaders are expected to adopt a political declaration as an outcome document at the summit, during which the UN will see a new addition to its family – a dedicated migration agency.

Leaders of the UN and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will sign an agreement to officially make IOM a related agency of the UN system. IOM assisted an estimated 20 million migrants in 2015.

Leaders will address pressing global and national concerns during the General Debate from September 20 to September 26. This year's theme for the debate is 'Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world.'

On September 21, the Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance, which has become one of the biggest threats to global health and endangers other major priorities, such as human development.

On the same day, the Secretary-General will make a pitch for an early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change by convening a special event at which countries can deposit their ratification instruments with him.

To date, it will require 28 more countries, representing 16 per cent of global emissions, to ratify the Agreement, which was reached last December. The new President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson had said in his maiden address that Security Council reform will be among the focus areas during his term.

"Reform of the UN Security Council is also work at hand for the 71st session (of the UN General Assembly). The membership is unanimous in agreeing that reform is necessary to align the Security Council with the realities of the 21st Century," Thomson had said this week.

The war in Syria will also take centerstage during the high level week with world leaders taking stock of the cessation of hostilities in the troubled country. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Syria is one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today.

Since March 2011, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and over one million injured. Another 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally.

The US and Russia are the co-chairs of the international grouping known as the ISSG, which comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries, and has been involved in efforts to resolve the conflict.

"While many conflicts are causing enormous pain, none is causing so much death, destruction and widespread instability as the worsening war in Syria," Ban had said as he welcomed the reinstatement of the Cessation of Hostilities following the understanding reached between the Russia and the US.

Thomson had said mobilizing international support to combat violent extremism and terrorism will also be the focus during the upcoming high-level Assembly session. "Building on the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism strategy, including the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on The Secretary-General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, we will act on improving the UN architecture to face these threats.

"In these troubled times, no community is immune from violent extremism and terrorism. We face this scourge together and must find the solutions together," Thomson added.

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