Global leaders on Thursday warned their colleagues that coordinated international action to end the worldwide recession and reverse the threat posed by global warming must not fall victim to routine political divisions and pitfalls.
“Recuperation will be slow and time-consuming,” said President Zeljko Komsic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the U.N.’s newer nation-states, born from the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Mr. Komsic called the global meltdown the “worst economic crisis since the founding of the United Nations, especially for poor and sub-Saharan countries.”
The President of Rwanda, another nation bathed in a bloody genocide in the 1990s, said the way forward out of economic recession will require expanded participation, beyond the insider club of the wealthy G8 nations or even the broader G20.
“Should we not broaden the base of nations responsible for the future?” asked Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“Most of the proposals fall short of the steps essential for the recovery of low-income countries,” Mr. Kagame said.
The General Assembly was largely overshadowed on two fronts on Thursday, by a Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament, with President Barack Obama chairing the session; and the opening of the two-day G20 meeting of nations grappling with the world financial crisis, convening in Pittsburgh.
Many of the world leaders in New York for the U.N. events will head to Pittsburgh later Thursday for the G20 meeting.
The financial focus highlighted how the steep drop in economic output and living standards around the world, together with global warming, overshadowed other issues such as Iran’s nuclear program. It is expected to dominate speeches during the weeklong ministerial session which continued on Thursday with speeches by nearly two dozen more leaders including from Japan, Turkey, Israel and Iraq.
Mr. Obama told the gathering of world leaders on Wednesday that governments “no longer... have the luxury of indulging our differences.”
The U.S. has moved from bystander to leader in international climate negotiations, he said.
“To overcome an economic crisis that touches every corner of the world, we worked with the G20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over two trillion dollars in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink,” he said.
Among other topics raised at the General Assembly, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi chastised the United Nations on Wednesday for failing to prevent dozens of wars and accused its most powerful members of treating other nations as “second—class, despised” countries.
In his first speech to the assembly in his 40 years as ruler of Libya, Col. Qaddafi focussed on the inequality of the U.N. Security Council where five permanent members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — have veto power.
“It should be called the ‘terror council,”’ he said, calling for membership to be expanded to include African, Latin American, Arab and Muslim nations.
Col. Qaddafi also accused the world body of failing to prevent 65 wars since the it was founded in 1945, and demanding massive reparations for the colonisation of Africa.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the assembly on Wednesday night that Tehran was ready to meet conciliation with conciliation.
The Iranian leader issued stinging attacks on the United States and its allies without calling them by name and laced his speech with anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic remarks, prompting a walkout by the U.S. delegation.
Mr. Ahmadinejad did not mention Iran’s nuclear programme — which the West fears is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. His only reference to the nuclear issue was a call for global nuclear disarmament.
The Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions to pressure Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program and start negotiations.
Foreign ministers of six global powers dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme met on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday. They said that they expect Tehran to come clean about its nuclear program at talks scheduled for October 1, and that tougher sanctions against Iran are being considered if the talks don’t yield results.
Keywords: United Nations, General Assembly, U.N. UNGA, recession, global warming, climate change, Zeljko Komsic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi, Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad