Every year in September, all 193 members of the United Nations meet at the General Assembly at the organisation’s headquarters in New York.
The General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the UN, where several international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations, such as development, peace and security, international law are discussed.
This year’s assembly which starts on September 17, has climate change, universal health coverage and the politics of sustainable development, on the agenda.
There will also be meetings on financing for development, elimination of nuclear weapons and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ghana will occupy the first seat in the Hall for this year’s session, including in the main committees, followed by all the other countries, in English alphabetical order.
More African leaders to address assembly
The following African heads of state are expected to take part in the United Nations General Debate on Wednesday.
- His Majesty King Mswati III, Head of State, Kingdom of Eswatini
- His Excellency George Manneh Weah, President, Republic of Liberia
- His Excellency Faustin Archange Touadera, Head of State, Central African Republic
- His Excellency Danny Faure, President, Republic of Seychelles
- His Excellency Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, President, Islamic Republic of Mauritania
- His Excellency Alpha Condé, President, Republic of Guinea
- His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President, Republic of Zambia
- His Excellency Idriss Deby Itno, President, Head of State and Head of Government, Republic of Chad
- His Excellency Hage Geingob, President, Republic of Namibia
- His Excellency Faiez Mustafa Serraj, President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord, State of Libya
- His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President, Republic of Ghana
- His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President, Republic of Mali
- His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President, Republic of Zimbabwe
Egypt’s Sisi asks for help over dam dispute with Ethiopia
Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has raised the matter of the Nile dam dispute at the United Nations General Assembly, saying negotiations have so far been unfruitful.
Egypt and Ethiopia have failed to agree on the operation of a dam that the latter is constructing on the River Nile to generate more than 6,000 megawatts.
Negotiations over the annual flow of water that should be guaranteed to Egypt and how to manage flows during droughts resumed last week, but Sisi’s remarks at the UN confirm that no progress has been made.Ethiopia has said GERD will start power production by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.
The Egyptian leader said he hoped the international community can compel all players in the negotiations to be flexible.
Sisi, who is also the current chairperson of the African Union reiterated the African bloc’s call for security reform.
General Debate begins
The General Debate session kicks off Tuesday, with several heads of stae lined up to speak.
This year’s theme for the debate is ‘‘Galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion”, in line with the priorities set by the president of the General Assembly, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
A voluntary 15-minute time limit for statements is to be observed in the general debate.
Since the 10th session of the General Assembly in 1955, Brazil has always been the first member state to speak in the general debate, followed by the United States of America as the host country. Other members then follow, based on the level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance.
The African heads of state scheduled to speak on Tuesday include;
- His Excellency Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President, Egypt
- His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
- His Excellency Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso
- His Excellency João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President, Republic of Angola
- His Excellency Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda
- His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, President, Republic of the Niger
- His Excellency Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, President, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- His Excellency Macky Sall, President, Republic of Senegal
- His Excellency Saad-Eddine El Othmani, Head of Government, Kingdom of Morocco
African presidents set for General Assembly
African heads of state including Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, Egypt’s Adel Fattah el-Sisi, Senegal’s Macky Sall and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi are already in New York for the General Assembly.
Nigerian elected president
Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was this week elected president of the 74th General Assembly.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres commended the Nigerian scholar and diplomat for prioritising peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion, all of which the UN chief called “central to the sustainable development agenda”.
‘‘He also brings valuable insights into some of the pressing peace and security, human rights and sustainable development challenges facing this body, from the spread of violent extremism to the threat of the global climate crisis,’‘ Guterres said.
‘‘I also applaud your emphasis on human rights and gender parity,’‘ he added.
In his inaugural address as General Assembly President, Prof. Muhammad-Bande said he would “collaborate and coordinate” with the Security Council, and the Secretariat “to ensure that greater attention is paid to prevention rather than reaction to full blown conflict.”
‘‘I will also advocate for effective early detection and warning systems, as well as mediation, negotiation and peaceful settlement of ongoing conflicts,’‘ he promised.
‘‘The recent emergencies in the Bahamas, Mozambique, and the Sahel region, among others, reminds us of the urgency of strengthening global action to tackle climate change,’‘ he argued.
World’s best Teacher at UN
The world’s best teacher, who hails Kenya, Peter Tabichi, is set to address the 74th United Nations General Assembly, which brings together world leaders from the organisation’s 193 members.
Tabichi, who won the 2019 Global Teacher Prize in March this year, is a member of the St Franciscan Friars, a religious order founded by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
On Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, shared a picture on Twitter showing that Tabichi, had met with US president, Donald Trump.
‘‘Peter, you inspire us all! Thank you for your commitment to your students,’‘ Stephanie tweeted.
Tabichi, who won the $1m best teacher prize, teaches science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School at Pwani village in Njoro, Nakuru County.
Addressing the UN General Assembly
Brother Tabichi is set to recite the popular St Francis prayer before the start of the general assembly, according to Brother Tony Donald from Ireland.
“This is a big honour for St Franciscan brothers. It shows that the UN recognises our order as it plays a key role in the development of humanity,” he said.
Tabichi will also share his inspirational story with delegates at the assembly.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life