From Rwandan President Paul Kagame to President Danny Faure of Seychelles, world leaders gather at the 73rd UNGA to discuss burning issues

  • September 26, 2018

Throughout the day, a total of 34 world leaders from the four corners of the globe addressed the General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday.

Sharing their vision on the world’s most pressing challenges, they discussed issues ranging from climate change, nuclear proliferation and protracted conflict to large-scale migration, economic inequality and the elimination of extreme poverty through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Several speakers also addressed United Nations reforms, including changing the make-up of the 15-nation Security Council.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, while stressing on the significance of multilateralism remarked that the world was suffering from a bad case of “trust deficit disorder”.

“Multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most. In the face of massive existential threats to people and planet — but, equally, at a time of compelling opportunities for shared prosperity — there is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good,” he underscored.  “This is how we rebuild trust.”

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, said the United Nations is as relevant today as it was 73 years ago when the Organization was founded. She invited the Member States to focus on seven priorities — gender equality and the empowerment of women, implementation of new global agreements on refugees and migrants, the creation of decent work opportunities, protection of the environment, the rights of persons with disabilities, the revitalization of the United Nations, and peace and security.


Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, drew attention to Africa’s embrace of closer and more productive cooperation through the African Union and regional economic communities.  Once in force, the African Continental Free Trade Area will redefine Africa’s place in the global economic order while helping its people meet the Sustainable Development Goals.  “The dividend of a more focused and functional Africa benefits everyone,” he said.  He added that today’s two-track system of global governance — in which a few define the norms by which others will be judged — is unsustainable.  “Addressing this imbalance in the very foundation of our system is what will give shape to a revival of multilateral cooperation,” he said.


President Danny Faure of Seychelles underscored that peace and prosperity cannot be disassociated from the effects of climate change and its existential threat to the world.  If States fail to uphold climate commitments, they will face an inescapable crisis, he warned.  On economic development, he said that Seychelles pioneered a Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Road Map to multiply the potential of its territorial waters while protecting them for future generations.  He also called for a vulnerability and resilience index that will account for the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States.


Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, said Africans took pride in the way former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan served humanity in an exemplary manner.  The international community is witnessing positive results from bilateral and multilateral efforts to address conflicts and threats to world peace, he said, pointing to recent commitments by the United States and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  However, other crises have deteriorated.

South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since Nelson Mandela stood at the Assembly’s podium, declaring that millions of his people looked to the United Nations “to bring them a life worth living”.  Asking if those hopes have been met, he said the Organization is still called upon to ask what it must do to achieve peace, reconciliation and stability around the globe.  Welcoming the 24 September adoption of a political declaration marking 2019–2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, he said the Organization is obliged to truly become what the people of the world want it to be:  A voice for all, including the poor and marginalized, around the globe.


Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, urged the General Assembly to raise the flag of peace in honour of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, asserting that peace must be guarded by all.  The Assembly cannot stand proud while people around the world are forced to abandon their countries and while innocent children, women and men are being killed.  Every human needs a home, every life is precious, he asserted, adding that there is a shared responsibility to seek and defend peace.


Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of Zambia, said little has changed in the African continent’s situation over the last seven decades.  Today, however, the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 present huge opportunities for Africa to revitalize its growth and further accelerate its transformation, as both frameworks seek to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development, peace and security.  Noting that Zambia’s development path is guided by its “Vision 2030” plan — aimed at making it a prosperous middle-income country by that date — he said its successful implementation still faces many hurdles.  Zambia’s economy, like those of many other developing countries, depends on commodities for economic growth and has not been spared by the negative impacts of their declining prices on the international market.


Abdel Fattah al Sisi, President of Egypt, pointed to a flaw in the international system, which negatively affects its performance and casts a dark shadow over its credibility in the eyes of many people, particularly in the Arab and African regions. “Developing countries can ill afford to exist in an international order, which is not governed by laws,” he continued.  There is no doubt that the Arab region is one of the most vulnerable to the dangers of nation State disintegration, and the ensuing creation of a fertile environment for terrorism and the exacerbation of conflict, he said.

Egypt will shortly resume the presidency of the African Union in 2019, he said, adding his Government was looking forward to strengthening the strategic partnership between the Union and the United Nations.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, first providing a snapshot of the security situation in his country over the past year, noted significant improvements in the central region and successful efforts in the north-east in containing terrorist attacks.  Peace has been consolidated, with displaced families returning to their homes, yet security challenges remain only in the north-east region in the face of terrorist activities, a threat affecting other countries in the region and across the world.


Adama Barrow, President of the Gambia, said no country can thrive in isolation amid complex global multilateral challenges, with our salvation as human beings resting in strengthening multilateral institutions and greater international cooperation.  “The UN uniquely provides the opportunity to achieve this goal,” he added.  Noting the irony of underfunding the United Nations in that context, he called upon Member States to step up support.


Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique, acknowledged the role of the United Nations in promoting dialogue and solving conflict, as a forum for multilateral dialogue in globally assumed agendas.  Saying “an unequal and fractured world requires multilateralism to address its gaps”, he cited the implementation of the Paris Agreement and efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and to regulate migration.  With the promotion of human rights, good governance and financing for development as key points, he called for support of the Secretary-General’s reform of the United Nations system so the Organization can be adequate to its purpose.  Commending the Secretary-General’s inclusive approach, he said Member States must resolve differences for more effective cooperation.


  1. Saad-Eddine el Othmani, Prime Minister of Morocco, emphasized that new and innovative approaches are needed to advance multilateralism. International organizations must be made more efficient and capable to adapt to a changing world. Spotlighting examples of United Nations achievements, he pointed at the first peacekeeping mission and the Organization’s important role in the maintenance of international peace and security.  Emphasizing Morocco’s strong commitment to rights, he said the adopting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights opened an avenue for more such instruments.

Source: Unite Nations

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