With the interventions of some weighty countries such as France and Israel, the UN General Assembly closed its annual week of debates on Monday, which have been marked by the pandemic, the climate crisis, Afghanistan and the so-called submarine crisis.
Slightly more than 150 heads of State and Government spoke during the last week before the Assembly, some by video and many others after traveling to New York in person, which returned a certain sense of normality to the great event of international diplomacy after the stoppage caused by the coronavirus.
That the trip was itself a risk was demonstrated, for example, by four members of the Brazilian delegation having tested positive after returning from New York, so the UN’s warnings to limit travel and capacity were not exaggerated.
For this last day, countries were almost exclusively represented by lower-ranking ministers or diplomats, with the great exception of Israel, whose new prime minister, Neftali Bennett, waited until today to deliver his first speech at the United Nations.
Bennett focused a good part of his words on Iran, whom he presented as a great threat to the Middle East and the rest of the world, especially because of an atomic program that, he said, has taken “a great leap” in recent years.
“Iran’s nuclear weapons program is at a critical moment,” said the Israeli leader, who accused other countries of ignoring repeated evidence of these advances or having “tired” of this matter.
“Israel does not have that privilege. We will not tire. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” insisted Bennett, who seemed to renounce diplomacy by stressing that “words do not stop atomic centrifuges.”
FRANCE ASKS FOR MORE UNION TO THE POWERS
France’s intervention was also eagerly awaited, protagonist of one of the controversies that focused attention in the first days of the General Assembly: the open crisis between Paris and Washington as a result of the US defense agreement with Australia and the United Kingdom that led to the cancellation of a lucrative contract to produce nuclear submarines.
In his speech, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, avoided referring directly to this dispute, but insisted that the great powers have to reinforce their dialogue on military and collective security matters.
Le Drian made it clear that France has great interests in the Indo-Pacific region and said that it will work for peace and stability in that region “with its goodwill partners” and with the support of other European countries.
TABLES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR THE WORD
The General Assembly was held this year with two notorious fights to decide who should use the United Nations podium to speak on behalf of Afghanistan and Burma after the overthrow this year of their respective governments.
The two cases were closed this Monday with tablesWell, neither the ambassadors of those former executives – who continue to be the official representatives of their countries at the UN – nor the new authorities who took power by force intervened in the debates.
The Burmese representative and, at the last minute, that of Afghanistan also resigned to take the floor, which left the turn of the two countries vacant, since neither the Burma Military Junta nor the Taliban have so far obtained the necessary credentials to participate in the UN despite having tried.
CLIMATE AND COVID: MUCH REMAINS TO BE DONE
The situation in Afghanistan was addressed this week in numerous speeches and parallel meetings, with repeated calls to prioritize the entry of humanitarian aid into the country and to demand that the Taliban respect human rights, but with little concrete action.
For the UN itself, two issues were above all on the agenda for this week of meetings: advancing vaccination against COVID-19 on a global scale and achieving new commitments in the fight against the climate crisis.
This is how the secretary general, António Guterres, had pointed out in advance, who has met in recent days with practically all the leaders who have passed through New York.
“We are hopeful about the messages we have heard, but it is clear that there is a lot ahead on both issues,” summed up his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric today.
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