Accessibility links

Breaking News

Zelenskyy, Biden Among Tuesday Speakers at UN General Assembly


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to US President Joseph Biden address the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2023.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened Tuesday’s General Assembly addresses by urging world leaders to act on a set of multilateral goals.

Guterres highlighted that only 15% of those 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are on track to be reached by 2030. He expressed regret that the global community seems “incapable of coming together.”

"Instead of leaving no one behind, we risk leaving the SDGs behind. … The SDGs need a global rescue plan," Guterres said.

He said the summit is “the moment for governments to come to the table with concrete plans and proposals to accelerate progress.”

The goals include ending poverty, ending hunger, ensuring access to affordable energy, taking urgent action to combat climate change and promoting gender equality.

They were set in 2015 with the aim of being achieved by 2030. Halfway to that marker, progress is slow, and in some instances is even going backward.

The U.N. gathering also will spotlight climate change with the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit on Wednesday. Guterres will host the event, which aims to reverse backsliding on Paris climate agreement goals.

Also scheduled to speak Tuesday are Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The presidents of Argentina, Cuba, Nigeria, Poland, Senegal and South Africa will also deliver remarks.

Guterres went on to express hope for multipolarity in international affairs. Multipolarity refers to a world in which many nations hold sway in global policymaking, rather than a single unifying power like the United States

As Guterres rallies for increased international participation, leaders from some of the biggest players in geopolitics were notably missing, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In calling on nations to work cooperatively, Guterres denounced Moscow’s ongoing war in Ukraine, telling the assembly that Russia is “Exhibit A” of countries failing to abide by the U.N. Charter’s pledge for peace.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden were also among the scheduled speakers at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Zelenskyy is making his first appearance at the annual meeting since Russia invaded his country in early 2022.

"For us, it's very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners," Zelenskyy told reporters Tuesday as he visited a New York hospital where Ukrainian soldiers have been treated for amputations.

Zelenskyy said ahead of his speech that Ukraine would put forth a proposal “on how to fortify the principle of territorial integrity and improve the U.N.'s capacity to thwart and halt aggression.”

He is due to follow his speech by attending a Wednesday session of the U.N. Security Council about the situation in Ukraine. Russia is one of the council’s five veto-holding permanent members.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.