“Our political leaders demonstrated their commitment to multilateralism” — U.N. General Assembly President

Global leaders were not able to meet in person for the General Assembly’s annual debate, but this “did not prevent multilateralism from operating at the highest levels” said Volkan Bozkir, wrapping up the Assembly’s 75th anniversary. Held at the beginning of each session of the General Assembly, the General Debate provides an opportunity for world leaders to deliver a statement on global issues. The General Debate continued until Sept. 29.

 Security Council Calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan to Halt Fighting

The U.N. Security Council convened on Tuesday for urgent closed-door consultations regarding international peace and security, and called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to halt fighting over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In a press statement read by Niger’s U.N. ambassador, serving as council president, members concern at reports of “large scale military actions” and regret at the loss of life. Five European council members — France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, and Estonia — asked for the closed council meeting following the upsurge in fighting. Gunter Sautter, Germany’s deputy U.N. Ambassador urged neighboring states “to play a more constructive role” and to “avoid everything that could further raise tensions.” Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement expressing “extreme concern” over the clashes.

 Tensions between United States and China Continue at U.N.

China’s Ambassador to the United Nations said last week Thursday that the United States has “created enough troubles for the world already” as the two nations continued to spar over the COVID-19 pandemic at a U.N. Security Council meeting. U.S. Representative to the U.N. Kelly Craft speaking earlier that day said, “the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to hide the origins of this virus, minimize its danger, and suppress scientific cooperation transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic.” Craft concluded that Beijing’s actions “cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Hundreds of thousands.” China’s Zhang Jun rejected Craft’s characterization of events. “I must say, enough is enough.” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, also criticized Craft’s comments at the Thursday session.

Progress in Sudan Transition; Challenges Remain

“Sudan’s political transition continues to move in the right direction,” said U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, addressing ambassadors via video-link on Friday. After nearly a year of talks, the transitional Government of Sudan and two key armed movements from Darfur initiated a peace agreement at the end of August. Signing is scheduled for Oct. 3. The parties have agreed to a 39-month transitional period effective from that date. DiCarlo did caution Member States, however, that “as we embrace the recent progress in the peace process, we are also mindful of the significant work ahead.”  DiCarlo noted that several positive developments had taken place recently, including the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states, two of whom are women.  The U.N.’s Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix cautioned that some “key players” have yet to join the peace process. He urged the international community to work to bring all stakeholders on board.

Abbas Calls for New Peace Process

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking on Friday called for an international conference early next year to launch a “genuine peace process.” Abbas said he was asking the Secretary General to make preparations “to convene an international conference with full authority and with the participation of all concerned parties, early next year, to engage in a genuine peace process, based on international law.” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Friday slammed Abbas’ speech as a collection of “lies and incitement against Israel,” arguing that the Palestinian leader was “desperate” because of the agreements Israel reached with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

 “Reverse Course,” U.N. Chief Calls for Nuclear Disarmament  

Commemorating the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Guterres said Saturday, “the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe.” Relationships between States possessing nuclear weapons are characterized by “division, distrust and an absence of dialogue,” he added, further noting that “the dangers posed by nuclear weapons are becoming more acute … The only guarantee against the use of these abhorrent weapons is their total elimination” Guterres concluded.

Pakistan-India Feud at U.N.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in his speech Friday stated “while the Nazis’ hate was directed at the Jews, the RSS [right-wing Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] directs it toward the Muslims and to a lesser extent toward the Christians.” Khan further accused India of having imposed a “military siege” on the disputed Kashmir region. Speaking on Friday, India’s U.N. ambassador, T.S. Tirumurti, described the comments as “another litany of vicious falsehood, personal attacks, war mongering, and obfuscation of Pakistan’s persecution of its own minorities and of its cross-border terrorism.”

Russia, China Block U.N. Report on Libya

Russia and China blocked the official release of a report by U.N. experts on Libya regarding the U.N. arms embargo, U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday. Without confirming which States had blocked the release, Germany’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Günter Sautter, noted on Friday that “many delegations have asked for the publication of the panel of experts’ interim report,” adding that “this would create much needed transparency. It would contribute to naming and shaming those who continue to blatantly violate the arms embargo in spite of agreements that have been made.”

Women in the Pandemic

The pandemic is “hitting women hard,” yet most nations are not providing sufficient social and economic protection for them, Executive Director of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said Monday. New data released by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout caused by the virus. “The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for countries to transform existing economic models towards a renewed social contract that prioritizes social justice and gender equality,” said U.N. Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner. “This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices,” he added.

Island Nations to U.N.: “Climate Change Will Kill Us”

“All countries and peoples are in a global war against climate change,” said David Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia in a pre-recorded address Friday. “We have witnessed deadly fires in the U.S., typhoons in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, and floods in Asia. It is a war that we can win but we must be much more aggressive in combatting it,” he added. Expressing concern over recent developments in the climate, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, stated in his virtual address Sunday, “We are already seeing a version of environmental Armageddon.” This was meant to be the year “we took back our planet,” he added. The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, delivered his U.N. speech Friday, stating, “while COVID-19 is our immediate crisis, climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the Pacific and its peoples in the long run.” Joining the chorus of calls warning against climate change, President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger stated, “in favoring solutions based on the respect for nature, we’re also preserving the health of our peoples.” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “Our global home that was teeming with millions of species of God-given creatures, both great and small, is slowly dying.”  He concluded, “Our world is yearning for us to stop its ruin.”

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a teleconference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on October 1, 2020. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)