Photo: U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the seventy-sixth session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in 2021. Source: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.
On Tuesday, world leaders began gathering in New York for the high-level debate of the UNGA’s seventy-seventh session. The debate, which was the first entirely in-person General Assembly since the start of the pandemic, was opened by Secretary-General António Guterres, who alluded to the war in Ukraine, rising energy and food prices, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crisis. In his speech on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to stand in solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, blamed Putin for the surge in food prices, emphasized his commitments to tackling the climate crisis, and criticized China, Myanmar, and Iran’s human rights records.
Latin American heads of state also addressed the UNGA. On Tuesday, Chilean President Gabriel Boric gave a speech, warning world leaders about how inequality can lead to uprisings like the one Chile experienced in 2019 and urging them to be more accountable to voters’ demands. “I invite you all to get ahead in the search for greater social justice. Distributing wealth and power in a better way should go hand-in-hand with sustainable growth,” stated Boric during his UNGA debut. He also reflected on his country’s overwhelming rejection of the draft constitution and expressed confidence that Chile will have a constitution it can be “proud of.” During his speech on Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro outlined his administration’s economic achievements and described himself as a “defender of family values and human life.” Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Bolivian President Luis Arce highlighted the failure of the war on drugs and suggested new international strategies to tackle drug trafficking. Today, Saint Lucian Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre, Antiguan and Barbudan Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Terrance Drew, and Belizean Prime Minister John Briceño will address the UNGA.