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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

The 78th session of the General Assembly has begun in New York. This means that diplomats from all over the world that are a part of the United Nations are coming to the U.S. General Assembly hall to advocate for issues, raise awareness, debate and make decisions that affect each country’s citizens and world affairs together. The General Assembly begins annually in September with high level meetings, and the contents of each meeting are significant in terms of how the future will develop. 

Each year a new president is appointed for the General Assembly session, and as the presiding officer, they give opening remarks at the first meeting. This year, that president is a diplomat representing Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is not a big country, so the U.N. providing such a large platform for this country is significant in how they can advocate for issues that affect smaller countries that are often overlooked when bigger world powers make decisions. The diplomat for Trinidad and Tobago is named Dennis Francis. In his opening remarks, he called for the United Nations to act in preserving peace and political integrity, pointing towards the ongoing war with Russia and Ukraine that has greatly affected the international community. Further, Francis raised an alarm noting conflicts in Haiti, the Middle East and Africa that need help facilitating difficulties that are causing uprisings and violent conflict. Lastly, but most importantly, Francis called for collective actions in solving climate change issues like rising sea levels. Many people recognize the dangers of climate change, but they often do not realize who it will affect most. The answer is smaller countries, islands like Trinidad and Tobago. The heat in the Caribbean is far worse than what it is in Boston. The rising sea levels may be causing progressive erosion of our coast, but the flooding and tropical storms are making island life more difficult than it has been in the past. This opening speech from the Trinidad and Tobago diplomat set the stage for many speeches to come, many calling for action on similar issues. 

At these General Assembly meetings, the Security Council, most importantly the five permanent members, also known as the P5, normally attend and make important remarks on the state of world affairs, including their positions on these issues as the big world powers. The Security Council P5 comprises the U.S., China, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. This year, in a current state of conflict and lack of cooperation, four of the five permanent members did not send their head leaders to the General Assembly. The only member of the P5 that attended and gave remarks was President Biden. France and the United Kingdom had their own meeting, China sent their Vice President, and Russia was not present for the meeting. Without the P5 showing a united front, this could mean a lot for world politics. The U.N. recently denounced Russia’s actions in invading Ukraine, and the U.S. has political and economic tensions with China for several reasons. The existential question from this lack of a united front: is the world headed for another Cold War or WW3? 

Depending on your political views, there are many ways to answer this question. Remaining positive, many of the leaders or diplomatic representatives that did attend and continue to participate in the current General Assembly session echoed messages of collective cooperation, compliance with sustainable development goals, help for humanitarian issues, and demonstrated behavior that would lead to more peace and less conflict. The King of Jordan spoke and called for the protection and increased aid for displaced people, mostly Syrian refugees, which Jordan hosts the largest percentage of. His Majesty also called for funding and increased support for Palestinian refugees amongst the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a major development during this conflict where many nations condemn Israel’s actions, yet continue to support Israel’s government by normalizing relations. These remarks all point towards accountability and possible solutions that would positively keep the world from engaging in a major conflict. 

Considering the ongoing conflicts of many countries, the remarks at the General Assembly sparked some hope for many. The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, gave his opening remarks and addressed several of the previously mentioned issues. Three interesting issues he addressed were the inequality between the 1% and everyone else, the alarming rise in military and nuclear armament funding and the sanctions on Cuba. The inequality in the world economy affects everyone. Especially in the Global South, regions are often exploited so the 1% can maintain the large wealth-gap. The raise in armament funding, understandable for regions in conflict, but spending billions of dollars on military expenditures when promises to developing countries leaves a stain on world affairs. Further, the unilateral sanctions on Cuba that have caused economic and humanitarian issues does not echo the United Nations’ promise to facilitate and provide peace. Instead, it causes division and conflict. President Lula da Silva effectively held nations accountable and called for action that would cause real change in the world during his remarks, once again, making his opening speech of the General Assembly an important annual marker. 

The General Assembly debate allows for nations to hold one another accountable for their shortcomings and raise awareness on the issues that affect all walks of life. Understanding the General Assembly can give insight on world politics and what direction the world is heading in. Many world leader speeches show glimmers of hope. Looking at politics, local or international, it can be hard to use a positive outlook, but in light of constant conflict and violence, it is important to understand that politics is dynamic and consists of constantly changing concepts. Before assuming the worst, look at the positive developments in the world and expand from there. 

All speeches are available on the U.N. website.

Megan Lee

Northeastern '25

Megan (she/her/hers) is an international affairs and criminal justice major with a minor in Spanish. She is a third-year student at Northeastern University from New Orleans, Louisiana. Most of her interests involve music, lifestyle/beauty trends, exercise/ gym culture, and world politics/affairs. She's very passionate about advocacy issues such as equal pay, refugee rights, and human trafficking awareness/resources.