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U.N. General Assembly Opens with Calls for Action on War, Climate, Poverty and Hunger

HeadlineSep 19, 2023

Here in New York, the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly got underway Monday with an urgent call to action on the environment. Secretary-General António Guterres said nations need to work urgently to end the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. He also called for a “global rescue plan” to meet the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including the elimination of extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “In our world of plenty, hunger is a shocking stain on humanity and an epic human rights violation. It is an indictment of every one of us that millions of people are starving in this day and age.”

Heads of state from at least 145 countries are attending the General Assembly this week; conspicuously absent are the leaders of four of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

President Biden is devoting a substantial portion of his speech today to advocate for increased support for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is attending the General Assembly for the first time since Russia’s invasion in early 2022. He will then head to Washington, D.C., where he will meet with President Biden, but will not again give an address to a joint session of Congress.

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