U.N. General Assembly Marked by Sharp Debates

Issues such as the war in Ukraine, climate change, equal representation and the global economic crises illustrated vast differences of approach among global leaders.

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Beginning on September 20, the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held its annual gathering in New York City.

This multilateral institution has its origins in 1945 after the conclusion of the second world war where tens of millions of people were killed and displaced resulting in a restructured international balance of political and economic forces.

With the United States emerging in the postwar period as the leading capitalist and imperialist country in the world, it was not surprising that the headquarters was eventually established in New York City after its initial assembly in San Francisco. At that time, the majority of peoples and nations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean remained under the yoke of imperialism.

However, during the latter war years and with fury after its conclusion, the national liberation movements erupted demanding independence and freedom for the oppressed colonies and semi-colonies. Today in the third decade of the 21st century there are 193 countries recognized by the UN encompassing all of the continents and many island-nations.

Nonetheless, the media coverage of the UN General Assembly within the U.S. largely focused on the address delivered by President Joe Biden. His remarks were heavily centered on continuing the proxy war against the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

At no point during the Biden speech did he put forward any viable peace initiatives for Ukraine to end the fighting. Neither did Biden suggest a different tone towards the People’s Republic of China which has been provoked by the trips to Taiwan by leading members of the U.S. Congress in recent months….

Another Caribbean island-nation, the Republic of Cuba, was the subject of several leaders who called for the lifting of the U.S.-imposed blockade of the socialist state. This call was made by the South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor along with the President of the Republic of Namibia, Gage Geingob.

The Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez spoke on the vast inequalities prevailing in the existing world system dominated by the western industrialized states:

“Never has humankind had this wealth of scientific and technical potential that it has now, neither has it ever had the extraordinary capacity than it does now to create wealth and well-being. However, never has the world been so unequal in terms of just how much people suffer.”

Rodriguez cited statistics indicating that some 828 million people are going to bed hungry every night and that around 50 million children suffer from stunting while joblessness will impact 207 million persons in 2022. Despite the more than sixty years of the blockade by Washington, Cuba is able to conduct international solidarity in the areas of education, healthcare and humanitarian assistance to peoples throughout the globe.

Chad Foreign Secretary speaks at UNGA 77th Session, Sept. 24, 2022.

The progressive African states also called for the liberation of Palestine and the Western Sahara, where the U.S. has sponsored the continued national oppression of these peoples so deserving of self-determination and independence. In addition to the call for the recognition of the right to self determination for the oppressed, there was equal emphasis on the responsibility of the industrial states as it relates to climate change. The next UN Climate Conference (COP27) will be held in November in Egypt where African states are preparing to put forward unified positions on the current environmental crisis.

These and other features of the UNGA illustrated that the struggle for a just world in the current period remains the preoccupation of billions throughout the globe. Working and oppressed peoples within the western capitalist states must recognize the inextricable links between their own well being and that of the majority of humanity in the Global South.

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