UN General Assembly Returns Next Week Amid Serious Challenges

With UN General Assembly set to get underway next week,  UN Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledges the glut of troubles facing the world at the moment. He described the state of the world as “A time of great peril.” Fair description considering the wars, economic crisis, poverty, climate chaos and other issues in play across the planet right now. The question is: What is the United Nations prepared to do about it?

Guterres is calling for cooperation from UN member-states, while acknowledging the global response to these crises has been weakened by a number of mitigating factors. In an interview with NPR, the secretary-general admitted that the supranational body’s ability to contend with matters such as the Ukraine-Russia War and the energy crisis now brewing in Europe is limited. More to the point, Guterres doesn’t expect UN efforts to result in progress to be made on many fronts.

This will be the first in-person General Assembly since 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath many leaders attended remotely. 140 world leaders are expected to attend, a marked increase from 2021’s 80. There will be one exception granted though. Today, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy was granted permission by the UN General Assembly to address the body via video link.

UN General Assembly 2019: The Last Chance for Diplomacy?

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This week in New York, the chief diplomats of the United States, and Iran are entering the UN General Assembly with two specific mission goals, and guidelines regarding how to best achieve them. What transpires in Manhattan this week will almost assuredly affect the national interests of Iran, and the US. In the case of the former, the same holds true with regards to its economic wellbeing, and overall security.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s mission is to convince world leaders to pressure the United States into loosening the economic sanction noose it has fastened around Iran’s neck. Zarif has been dangling the possibility of talks between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump taking place on the sidelines of the General Assembly this week in exchange for a loosening of the sanctions. Washington has shown no interest in this approach, and its not likely that Zarif will find too many sympathetic world leaders who possess the clout, or willingness to persuade the US to go easier on Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes into the General Assembly looking to lay the foundation for a diplomatic outcome to the crisis. Contrary to the opinions expressed by countless left-leaning journalists, politicians and talking heads, the United States does not want to begin a war with Iran. SecState, and the rest of the Trump administration’s national security team have left no stone unturned while searching for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Regrettably, none have been found. Despite its claims otherwise, Tehran has demonstrated no sincere desire to resolve the current issues through diplomatic means. The Iranian government only wants to return the US-Iran relationship to what it was previous to President Trump’s inauguration and that is not going to happen.

So, as the week begins and the drama starts to unfold in Manhattan, it will be useful to keep in mind that if there is no diplomatic breakthrough by Friday, the Trump administration will begrudgingly admit that diplomacy has failed. From that point on, the US focus will shift towards non-diplomatic means to contain Iran. And by non-diplomatic means, I’m referring to the application of military power, of course. 😊

Monday 24 September, 2018 Update: US-Iranian Clash Brewing in NYC This Week?

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Interaction between US and Iranian government officials will be closely watched at the UN General Assembly in New York City this week. Over the weekend, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even indicated  President Trump might be open to meet with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the UN. Iran was already expected to be a major topic of discussion during this session of the General Assembly, but this past weekend’s terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz reinforces expectations, and fears of a potential blow-up between US and Iranian government officials, and possibly even national leaders this week. Following the attack on Saturday morning, Rouhani wasted little time in laying the blame for it at the feet of unnamed US ally in the region. Before leaving for New York, Rouhani stated, “All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes.”

Trump is expected to address the General Assembly on Tuesday, and chair a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday. The main topic of Wednesday’s meeting will be non-proliferation, and weapons of mass destruction. Iran is expected to be a major focus of Trump’s comments, and will also likely be mentioned in Tuesday’s address.

*Author’s Note: Apologies for this update being short. There will be further discussion about Iran, as well as the UN General Assembly as the week progresses.*