Biden to Focus on Ukraine, Food Security, Global Health at UN General Assembly

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President Joe Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday morning, where he will discuss US efforts to strengthen global food security, replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and other pandemics, supply chain issues and tackle the climate crisis. Will shed light

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In his speech, Biden will highlight Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday.

“He will offer a strong rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and call on the world to stand up against the naked aggression of the past several months,” Sullivan said. “He will underline the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirming the basic principles of its Charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the Charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”


Responding to the Granthshala’s question, Sullivan said Biden would “talk a lot” on the question of reforming the Security Council, where Russia is a permanent member.

“Whether he does so publicly or communicates privately with the Secretary-General and others, we are still working today,” Sullivan said.

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Biden to focus on food security, global health at UN General Assembly

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On Friday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that while the leader will not ignore Ukraine, it will not dominate the gathering.

“We know that this terrible war is spreading all over Ukraine, we cannot ignore the rest of the world. There are conflicts going on elsewhere,” she told reporters.

Greenfield outlined three US priorities for the General Assembly: addressing global food insecurity; Advancing global health and global health security; Upholding the United Nations Charter and shaping the future of the United Nations.

“We believe this is the moment to protect the United Nations and show the world that it can still meet the world’s most pressing global challenges,” she said.

At UN Gathering, war in Ukraine to dominate discussions

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Ukraine, food security in headlines during UN Leaders Week

Observers say Biden will try to balance the interests of US and European allies in supporting Ukraine and isolating Russia, with the myriad problems facing the rest of the world.

“The US and its allies may be trying to convince non-Western countries that while much emphasis has been placed on Russia’s war on Ukraine, the West also cares about the global food crisis and [it] becoming [a] global recession, and what it will do to the developing world,” Richard Govan, director of the United Nations at the International Crisis Group, told Granthshala.

Govan said that during the initial phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western diplomats sought support for Ukraine from their African and Asian counterparts, but did not listen to their concerns about food security and the economic shock associated with the war.

“Now, the US and Europeans are really trying to send the message that they are sympathetic to the economic concerns of the developing world, and they will work to address those concerns,” he said.

Food and Health Security

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, food and fertilizer exports from the region have been disrupted, driving up food prices even more after the pandemic. According to the World Food Program, about 828 million people go to bed hungry every night.

Economist Rob Vos of the International Food Policy Research Institute said the world is no longer on track to achieve the UN’s goal of zero hunger by 2030.

“We need to invest a lot more in agriculture and food systems, or in food systems in particular, to change things so that they become more inclusive so that poor people can benefit more from it, that food prices remain low so that they can accessible, and that production becomes more flexible and sustainable,” Vos told Granthshala.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will co-host a food security summit on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Biden will host a conference on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The US has provided $2 billion of the $6 billion it has committed to meet the $18 billion needed globally.

“As COVID-19 reminds us, global health threats do not respect borders. We must tackle COVID-19, monkeypox and other outbreaks and we must do this together,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

FILE - Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Security Council via video link during a meeting on threats to international peace and security at the United Nations Headquarters on August 24, 2022.

FILE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Security Council via video link during a meeting on threats to international peace and security at the United Nations Headquarters on August 24, 2022.

security council reform

Thomas-Greenfield said the US would seek to advance efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including “building a consensus on sensible and credible proposals to expand Security Council membership”.

The UNSC is made up of five permanent members with veto rights – China, France, Russia, the US and the UK, and 10 non-permanent members elected by the UNGA.

Govan said that while UNSC reform is a decades-old recurring narrative in the world body, the US has recently said it wants to work on it.

“I don’t think the Biden administration has any clear plans for what kind of reforms it would like to see in the UN Charter,” Govan said. “But since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, a lot of diplomats in New York have been asking if this organization is suitable for [its] purpose, and America is responding to that common sense that you need some reforms at the United Nations in light of this conflict. ,

Govan said that by showing it is open to reform, the Biden administration could expose China and Russia to their reluctance to reform the council, where they have the power to veto important decisions on global security.

Thomas-Greenfield noted that the US would continue to refrain from using its veto power except in “rare, exceptional” circumstances. “Since 2009, Russia has cast 26 vetoes, 12 of which they joined with China, and the US has used our vetoes only four times since 2009,” she said.

He said Biden would hold discussions with other leaders during a high-level session of the assembly to reach a consensus on the expansion of the council.

Observers say the prospects for reforming the UNSC are slim. A major point of contention is whether new permanent seats should be created and whether they should have veto power. Discussions are underway on proposals to create a new category of permanent members without veto rights.


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