UNGA is the main policymaking body that annually assembles Heads of States at the United Nations and it is also an opportunity used by UN Agencies and governments to host high level discussions around key global issues
By Saionara König-Reis – September 18 marked the opening of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN Headquarters in New York. The UNGA is the main policymaking body of the UN, and the only one with equal representation between all countries. During the high level debates, top level world leaders were gathered to discuss key global issues such as migration, multilateralism, climate change, peace, security, health, gender equality and other matters.
More specifically, some of the sensitive topics addressed during the General Assembly this year include the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), the Security Council reform, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and concerns with the raise of intolerance and lack of trust in official institutions in different parts of the globe. As stressed in the speech of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, “people are losing faith in political establishments, polarization is on the rise and populism is on the march”.
Dianova at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly
Parallel to the debates among heads of states, the UN and its surroundings hosted numerous events organized for the occasion of the UNGA by UN Agencies, governments, civil society and the private sector on the various issues. Dianova representative participated in conversations around different topics concerning sustainable development, such as gender equality, environment, global mental health, migration and civil society activism.
- Gender Equality: HRH the Queen of Belgium opened an event organized in partnership with UNICEF “Youth with a Vision” stating that: “Don’t be mistaken: the fact that women & girls are more vulnerable does not mean that they are weak – they know what they want and they will get there!” The event introduced the international campaign #SheIsEqual, which will build on the successes of #SheDecides, aiming to raise more than $ 500 million in commitments for gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s health to improve the lives of 20 million of women and girls.
- Environment: At event sponsored by National Geographic and organized by UN Environment and the European Commission, member states and business representatives shared best practices and committed to fight the plastic pollution that is troubling the world’s oceans. Sylvia Earle, renowned marine biologist, reminded us that humans have made a great impact on our planet, an impact that is not sustainable with the limited resources we have. “Now, we have the chance to decide and act for the future we want.”, she said.
- Mental Health: The partnership between the Global Campaign for Mental Health, the government of Canada and others brought to the UN a major event entitled “Time to Act on Global Mental Health: Building Momentum on Mental Health in the SDG Era”. While there were some good practices highlighted, it was still clear that mental health (stated under Sustainable Development Goal 3) remains a neglected and stigmatized subjected in most countries, and a matter in urgent need of more political and financial commitment to bring help and hope to people and families struggling with it.
- Migration: Two months after the approval of the final draft of the Global Compact on Migration, high-level member states representatives gathered at a UNGA side event to reinforce their commitments to the document and to set the grounds for the upcoming Intergovernmental Conference which will take place in Marrakesh in December, when the GCM will be adopted.
- Civil Society Activism: In light of the challenges that lay ahead of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, a group of civil society organizations attending the UNGA gathered to explore synergies and possibilities for coordinated global action in this two fronts for the following years.