NEW DELHI, September 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be among the leaders who will skip the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 18.
Two main issues are going to be the talking point of the upcoming session: the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the issues concerning the Global South. This is because there is a segment of countries that find the conflict in Ukraine overshadowing their concerns.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spoke to his fellow leaders via video link last September, is now set to appear in New York in person and address the General Assembly on September 19 and the Security Council on September 20.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the same session, but chances of the two facing each other are slim, as they will stay in the outside chamber when they speak.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be attending the session on September 26. Russia will be represented by Lavrov, while Vice-President Han Zheng will be attending on behalf of China.
“Ukraine and Russia will be one of the most debated and talked about issues during the session. In addition, there will be a group — most likely from the Indian subcontinent that would try and highlight other international crises and challenges — which would include concerns of the Global South,” said a source.
It may be recalled that the 2022 UNGA session was dominated by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “Diplomats from the Global South are hoping that the issues of their concern are given credence too. Besides, the UN’s adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which has marked 2030 as the year set of commitments, including ending extreme poverty and safeguarding the environment, might be given importance,” said a source.
The conflict in Ukraine and the pandemic have been a setback to the SDGs. The president of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago, will convene a special summit on achieving accelerated progress towards the SDGs on September 18 and 19.
US President Joe Biden will be one of the opening speakers of the high-level session on September 19. Time will tell whether Biden talks about reform in the UNSC and takes up the issue of India’s permanent seat in the council — as he assured PM Modi during a bilateral meeting on Sept 8 in Delhi.
The Black Sea grain initiative will also be a major point of discussion during the sessions that Zelenskyy is to address and attend. There is likely to be a session on climate change too in the run-up to the COP28 Summit that would be held in Dubai in November. (Courtesy: TNIE)