New York: the city that never sleeps – this week at least, that will most likely be true. For from tomorrow (19 September), many of the 193 Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers will be coming together for the 72nd UN General Assembly to discuss the current crises in the world. Germany will be represented by Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
The ministerial week – or officially the general debate at the start of a new session of the General Assembly – is the world’s biggest political forum. It is often also the only opportunity to meet the representatives of smaller states.
Crises, wars, conflicts – and what else?
In addition to current conflicts such as the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear programme, the still unresolved conflict in eastern Ukraine, the war in Syria and the crisis concerning the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, this year’s UN week is focusing in particular on longer-term common challenges, such as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and climate policy. On Thursday (21 September), Foreign Minister Gabriel will give a speech to the General Assembly outlining Germany’s foreign and peace policy within the framework of the United Nations.
New faces, new ideas
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will be addressing the General Assembly for the first time since their election. What is more, this is the first general debate for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who has been in office since January. He intends to make the United Nations fit for the challenges of the future with a comprehensive reform agenda. He has defined priorities which Germany supports: as well as the coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he wants to strengthen conflict prevention and reorganise the United Nations.
The President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly – whose theme this year is “Focusing on people” – is the Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, who officially opened the new session on 12 September.
More than just side events: the meetings around the general debate
This year there will again be a number of events on the whole spectrum of world politics and on the key global issues such as migration, climate change and development, terrorism and disarmament. The German Foreign Minister will also discuss current conflicts – from Ukraine to North Korea and from disarmament to denuclearisation – in bilateral talks with numerous counterparts, for example those from China and Russia.
Germany will also be promoting its candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2019/20 at the 72nd session of the General Assembly.