Top Reasons To Care About #UNGA This Year

September 15, 2015
UNGA: United Nations, 70 Years Strong

Every September hundreds of world leaders and foreign dignitaries descend on New York City for the start of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) General Debate, side events, and negotiations that kick off a year-long session of break-out committees. But this year’s 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations is an unprecedented chance to solidify our commitment to four key areas of international affairs:

Strengthening Multilateral Peace Operations

Peacekeepers serving in the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) stand in formation during a medal ceremony at their base in Bentiu [UN Photo/Martine Perret]


In September 2014, more than 30 countries gathered on the margins of UNGA 69 to reaffirm their support for UN peacekeeping operations and offer concrete pledges of assistance. They did so in recognition that UN peacekeeping operations are more critical than ever to international peace and security and to help fill key gaps.  But we are at a time where we are asking the UN and these peacekeeping missions to do more in more complex conflicts and these missions are under enormous strain. So this September 28th President Obama, the UN Secretary-General, and several heads of state and government will co-host a summit to convene the leaders of countries that are prepared to make significant, new, and concrete commitments to peacekeeping operations. The summit will also encourage reforms to make UN peacekeeping more effective to complement the parallel effort of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.

Countering Terrorism, ISIL, and Violent Extremism With Our Partners

President Barack Obama, center, speaks at the UN Security Council summit on foreign terrorist, on September 24, 2014, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York [AP Photo]

At last year’s UNGA, President Obama chaired a session of the United Nations Security Council where UNSCR 2178 was passed, which requires member states to take steps to counter the travel of foreign terrorist fighters, and calls upon them to do more to counter violent extremism.  He also called for the creation of a global coalition to counter ISIL, which now has grown to 62 members. This past February in Washington, DC, President Obama hosted the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) bringing together leaders from national and local governments, civil society, the private sector, and multilateral organizations to develop a whole of society action agenda to counter radicalism and increase community resilience. The Summit launched a global effort, which includes several regional conferences, to produce practical and tangible CVE policies and programmatic outcomes.  On the margins of the UNGA 70 General Debate, government and non-government leaders from around the world will meet at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism to report on the steps they have taken to counter ISIL, foreign terrorist fighters, and violent extremism more broadly, and to commit to new and renewed action. 

Setting a Sustainable Development Agenda for the Next 15 Years

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Development Agenda will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were set 15 years ago [United Nations Photo]

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which will succeed the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will define the global development framework for the next generation. A UN summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda will be held from September 25-27, 2015 in New York, and will be convened as a high-level plenary meeting of UNGA 70. 

The United States supports a clear and concise narrative for sustainable development, one that builds upon the MDGs, brings an end to extreme poverty, fights environmental degradation and climate change, and focuses on the most vulnerable first.  The 2030 Agenda will be a powerful instrument to realize the unfinished business of the MDGs in health, food security, education, and poverty while going farther to include known drivers of development –like advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, inclusive and job-rich growth, sustainable energy for all, healthy oceans, peace and governance.  The 17 goals and 169 targets articulated in the 2030 Agenda include these U.S. government priorities. For the latest developments follow the United States’ lead negotiator @anthonypipa on Twitter.

Reaching a Landmark Agreement on Climate Change

The United States is leading global efforts to combat climate change. Learn more: 

One hundred and ninety-five Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are currently negotiating a climate change agreement to be reached in Paris this December to go into effect from 2020.  Addressing climate change at home and abroad is a top priority for President Obama, and the United States is fully committed to reaching a climate change agreement in Paris.  In March, the United States took an important step by formally submitting its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC).  The U.S. INDC followed a joint announcement by President Obama and Chinese President Xi last November, in which the U.S. pledged to reduce its emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, and China pledged to peak CO2 emissions around 2030.  As other countries continue to announce their respective post-2020 mitigation contributions ahead of Paris, it will be critical for the world to see ambitious emission reduction targets from major emitters. 

As we approach the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly -- on this 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN -- we are particularly mindful of the goals established by the UN Charter: to foster a more peaceful world, and to promote development and human rights.  

About the Author: Tracey A. Jacobson serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs

Editor's Note: This blog entry is a part of a series examining important issues during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
September 17, 2015
So, we need to get people to stop hurt themselves, and other people around the world with their actions. Sounds like a good idea ! :)
Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
September 17, 2015
This is what I want: world peace, equal rights for all people, an education system people can afford, an end too pollution, climate change, drug addiction, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and dictators . Also, throw in a cure for everything and end aging. :)


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