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Zelensky and Biden among speakers Tuesday at the UN General Assembly


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

Guterres stressed that only 15% of these 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are on track to be achieved by 2030. He lamented that the global community seems “unable to come together.”

“Instead of leaving no one behind, we risk leaving the SDGs behind. …The SDGs need a global bailout,” Guterres said.

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

The goals include eradicating 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 a goal of being achieved by 2030. Halfway to this goal, progress is slow and, in some cases, even going backwards.

The UN gathering will also focus on climate change with the UN Climate Action Summit on Wednesday. Guterres will host the event, which aims to reverse the retreat from the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

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

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

Guterres then expressed his hope to see multipolarity in international affairs. Multipolarity refers to a world in which many nations have influence over global policymaking, rather than a single unifying power like the United States.

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

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 honor the Charter’s peace commitment United Nations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US President Joe Biden were also among the scheduled speakers at the UN headquarters in New York.

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

“For us it is very important that all our words, all our messages are heard by our partners,” Zelensky told reporters Tuesday while visiting a New York hospital where Ukrainian soldiers were treated for amputations.

Zelensky said before his speech that Ukraine would present a proposal “on how to strengthen the principle of territorial integrity and improve the UN’s ability to thwart and stop aggression.”

He is due to continue his speech by attending a session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday devoted to the situation in Ukraine. Russia is one of five permanent members of the Council with veto power.

Some information on this story comes from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.