The Week Ahead – Sept 26, 2016

The week begins after a productive UN General Assembly session that had many bright spots, including high-level meetings on migrants and refugees that brought nations closer to agreement on a range of solutions; news that the Paris Agreement on climate change should go into effect by year-end; and an agreement by all 193 member states to combat the fundamental threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

While progress was made last week, bombings in New York City and in nearby New Jersey set a somber tone, and an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo – the worst since war began in Syria – intensified the outrage and frustration of world leaders and thousands of others gathered for the annual session. The bombs killed twenty people and forced the suspension of aid deliveries that had just been started again under the terms of a cease-fire agreement that already has been repeatedly violated.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was passionate in his rebuke, calling out those present who represent “governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in – or even planned and carried out – atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syria conflict against Syrian citizens. . . The humanitarians delivering life-saving aid were heroes. Those who bombed them were cowards.”

And, in one of the most pointed speeches of his tenure, Secretary-General Ban spoke of the progress and challenges of the past decade.


71st UN General Assembly (9/13-26)

UNIC-Washington’s takeaways from the week (9/26)

World leaders spotlight 2030 Agenda, climate action at annual debate (9/26)

Development: 4th Annual Conference on Sustainable Development (9/20-22)

Refugees and Migrants: World leaders at UN summit adopt ‘bold’ plan to enhance protections (9/19)

·         WHO: Recognizing health as a human right for refugees and migrants (9/25)
·         UN seeks accountability for trafficking crimes in forced migration (9/23)
·         The invisible majority: helping internally displaced people (9/22)
·         UN officials underline the importance of collective action (9/19)
·         UN News Centre: In Focus Migration and Refugees


Climate:  Climate Week (9/19-25) – Secretary-General’s Climate Event (9/21)

·         Paris Agreement sails past milestone en route to early entry into force (9/21)
·         No time to waste as Paris climate accord crosses first thresholde (9/21)
·         For a list of emission levels by countries, please click here.


Antimicrobial Resistance: High-level Meeting (9/21)


More:  For a detailed list of UN General Assembly events and meetings, click here.


Of particular interest to Americans:

Obama urges world to eschew division and pursue global integration at UN Assembly (9/20)


Myanmar’s first civilian leader to address Assembly in 50 years cites UN as inspiration (9/21)

Japanese Prime Minister Abe calls for resolute UN action against DPR Korea’s nuclear threat (9/21)

DPRK: Hostile US polices have made Korean Peninsula ‘world’s most dangerous hotspot’ (9/23)

Sustainable development facing ‘strong headwinds,’ Chinese Premier warns UN Assembly (9/21)

Dialogue and cooperation most viable path to peace, Afghan Vice-President tells UN Assembly (9/21)

Competition between countries posing serious threats to peace, Pakistan PM tells UN (9/21)

Indian Minister urges leaders to turn ‘shadow of turmoil’ into a golden age for civilization (9/26)

Middle East:

Israel’s Netanyahu says conflict is ‘not about settlements’ but existence of a Jewish State (9/22)

Palestinians still long for peace, but will never accept ‘temporary solutions,’ Abbas tells UN (9/22)

Turkey’s Erdogan challenges world leaders at UN Assembly to end bloodshed in Syria (9/20)

Serious global collaboration needed in war on terrorism, Iraqi premier tells UN Assembly (9/22)

Syrian Minister says ‘well-known’ countries to blame for spread of terrorism (9/24)

Jordan’s king warns that both Islamophobia and Islam ‘outlaws’ threaten world (9/20)

Post-9/11 security policies may be genesis of today’s borderless violent extremism: Iran (9/22)

The Americas:

Cuba cites progress with US relations but, embargo still in force means ‘a long way ahead’ (9/22)

Mexican President Peña urges global push to achieve ‘brave, demanding’ UN 2030 Agenda (9/20)

Colombian leader cites his accord with rebels as paradigm for ending civil wars worldwide (9/21)

Rather than stoke anxiety, politicians should work to improve livelihoods: Canada’s Trudeau (9/20)


France’s Hollande urges climate action, aid for Africa and an end to Syria’s war (9/20)

United Kingdom to remain ‘outward-facing’ global partner, Prime Minister tells UN Assembly (9/20)

European leaders stress importance of international cooperation to tackle global challenges (9/22)

Leaders must decide whether to go it alone, or work together for better world: Germany (9/23)

Holy See calls: ensure UN sustainability agenda has ‘human face’ (9/22)

Russia blames Western ‘arrogance’ for bloodshed in Middle East and North Africa (9/23)

Ukraine’s President calls for UN mechanism to document aggression by Member States (9/21)


Kenyan Vice-President implores Security Council to take Somalia situation seriously (9/21)

West African nations committed to fighting terrorism in subregion: Liberia (9/22)

Southern African leaders underline importance of regional work for development (9/20)

Leaders from Africa’s Sahel region spotlight efforts to keep peace, combat terrorism (9/23)

UN Officials Visiting Washington:

Mr. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the SRSG for MINUSCA, the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, visited Capitol Hill and met with US officials in the State Department. (9/26-27)

Next week, the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, will speak at a US Institute of Peace meeting on ISIS and Sex Slavery: How Can the International Community Move from Condemnation to Action? (10/5)

The Secretary-General:

Secretary-General attends the signing of the Peace Agreement in Colombia. (9/26)

Secretary-General’s statements from last week:

At the Security Council:

The Council held another straw poll for the selection of the new Secretary-General. (9/26) In October, its members will begin casting color-coded ballots in straw polls to indicate whether a P5 country votes to “discourage” a candidate.

New Zealand holds the presidency of the Security Council through September; Russia takes the helm in October.

Last week, the Council heard a briefing on Syria (9/21) and on counter-terrorism/aviation security. (9/22)

Around the UN System:

The International Organization for Migration – headed by career American diplomat William Swing – joined the UN to boost cooperation on the range of issues that migrants and the countries that host them face.

Human Rights Council’s 33nd session (9/13-30)

In Case You Missed It:


Other News:

UN Reports:

Secretary-General reports and notes:

·         United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All
·         Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance
·         The situation in the Middle East
·         Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
·         Independence of judges and lawyers

·         Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction

Other reports:

International Days:

  • 26 September            International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
  • 27 September            World Tourism Day
  • 28 September            World Rabies Day
  • 29 September            World Maritime Day
  • 30 September            International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
  • 1 October                   International Day of Older Persons

Secretary-General Ban and President Obama’s Final UN Week

The World Looks to New York as Secretary-General Ban and President Obama Take Their Final “UN Week” Turn

The 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly has begun, with a very busy high-level week ready to kick-off in New York on Monday, September 19.  Over the last several years, “UN Week” has become the place to be for anyone looking to find solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.  Much of the increased participation and focus on this annual convening can be credited to UN Secretary-General Ban and President Obama.  As both leaders will be participating in and presiding over “UN Week” events for the last time – their tenures end nearly simultaneously as 2016 comes to an end – it is worth a quick look at how this week has been transformed into the can’t-miss week for global problem-solvers.

Leaders' Summit on countering violent extremism

Leaders’ Summit on countering violent extremism

Both the Secretary-General and the President have made sure UN Week serves to actually tackle issues, not just talk about them.  SG Ban has made a tradition of holding a Summit each year on a key issue on the global agenda in order to force governments to focus and make progress while their top leaders are in New York.  These have included climate change, development (the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals), and, this year, Refugees and Migrants.  The General Assembly has taken up the SG’s calls to assure that progress is made.  I, for one, am convinced that these summits led to the successful negotiations that gave us the truly historic Sustainable Development Goals and The Paris Agreement on Climate Change last year.  These annual gatherings have allowed leaders to dream big, and to begin the practical steps toward achieving shared aspirations.

For his part, President Obama has pushed governments to make real commitments on issues by hosting his own high-level meetings.  In these “leadership” sessions, governments must put forward real actions to be invited to the table – and when the U.S. President is hosting, the klieg lights are bright and leaders want to be there.  Last year many countries put forward significant commitments to better support UN Peacekeeping. This year, look for much the same during the President’s session on Refugees.

But, the week is not just for government leaders anymore.  The Secretary-General and his UN team know that today’s challenges need everyone at the table – civil society, the private sector, academia, and anyone who has an idea or a belief in change for the better.  There are literally hundreds of big and small so-called “side events,” both at the UN and around New York City, where offering or just considering thoughts, ideas, and dreams is open for all.  And, it is not solely restricted to those in New York: the UN has thrown open its doors, webcasting many events and engaging via social media, to ensure the widest possible participation.

This is what makes “UN Week” so important and exciting: you might rub shoulders with some of the biggest political leaders in the world, but you also might hear the solution for tackling global poverty or ending a civil war in a venue uptown, downtown, or crosstown.  During “UN Week,” everyone in New York – or tuned into New York – can make a difference!    You can follow me and participate in events in NY and beyond on Twitter with #UNGA and @RobbinWashDC and @UNICDC.