UNGA 2023 has taken an unexpected turn, with four of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council opting to skip this prestigious event.
In this article, we explore this significant departure from tradition and the implications it holds for the effectiveness of UNGA speeches in the absence of global leaders.
However, Each September, New York City becomes a global epicenter of diplomatic activity as monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers descend upon the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The buzz of anticipation fills the air as influential figures from around the world prepare to present their visions, engage in diplomatic sessions, and even pose for commemorative photographs with the UN Secretary-General.
A Notable Absence
This year’s UNGA is notably missing the presence of key global leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron, known for his dynamic diplomacy, is engrossed in a busy September schedule, including hosting Britain’s King Charles III and meeting Pope Francis. Similarly, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has chosen to forgo his inaugural UNGA session, making him the first British leader in a decade to skip the event. Instead, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will lead the British delegation.
The absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping is in line with their infrequent attendance at UNGA sessions. Representing Russia at the gathering will be Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The only permanent member of the UN Security Council in attendance will be US President Joe Biden.
Questions of Representation
While many countries will be well-represented at UNGA, certain nations face representation challenges. Niger, once seen as a symbol of democratic progress and stability in sub-Saharan Africa, is grappling with political turmoil. The democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown in a military coup, leading to the appointment of Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine to represent the country.
Similarly, Gabon, a member of the UN Security Council, recently experienced a military coup. With the nation still in flux, it remains uncertain whether Gen Brice Nguema, the leader of Gabon’s junta, will attend UNGA as interim president.
Sudan, a nation marred by ongoing conflicts between the armed forces and powerful paramilitary groups, also faces a dilemma regarding its representation at the global forum.
The Impact of Absent Global Leaders
The absence of key global leaders raises questions about the effectiveness and impact of UNGA speeches. With a significant portion of veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council missing, the traditional platform for addressing global challenges and forging international consensus is disrupted.
UNGA has historically been a forum for world leaders to voice their concerns, share solutions, and foster international cooperation. The absence of leaders like Macron, Sunak, Putin, and Xi may impact the ability of the assembly to address pressing global issues effectively.
UNGA 2023 has departed from tradition, with the majority of the veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council opting to skip the event. While the top representatives of most other nations will be in attendance, questions remain about the effectiveness of UNGA speeches in the absence of key global leaders. As the diplomatic landscape continues to evolve, the world watches to see how this shift will impact the outcomes and resolutions of this year’s General Assembly, raising important considerations for the future of global diplomacy.