Stephanie Zawalski/Europa Newswire
September, 28th 2015
UNITED NATIONS — The 70th session of the General Assembly kicked off the General Debates today which will continue through October 2nd.
In his opening statement to the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, pleaded for financial assistance from the world’s developed countries, stating that $20 billion is necessary in order to meet this year’s need for humanitarian aid, “We are not receiving enough money to save enough lives.” He cited the massive budget gaps for several of the UN’s efforts including those in Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen which he purported to be at half of their budgetary requirements and the effort in Syrian which he stated is only at one third. He pointed directly to Europe to increase their contributions saying, “After the Second World War, it was Europeans seeking the world’s assistance.”
While Ban called to the developed nations of the world, it was one of the world’s fastest growing developing nations to come forward with promises of money and troops. The President of the Republic of China, Xi Jinping, spoke at length about the importance of global partnerships and disparaged the idea of strong countries bullying the weak. He then announced that China will be establishing a $1 billion development fund over the next ten years that will be used to support UN activities. Additionally, he promised to provide 8,000 troops to peacekeeping efforts, as well as, $100 million that will go to the African Union to aid their conflict and crisis response.
Regarding Syria, Ban Ki-moon named five countries that hold the key to ending the crisis, the Russian Federation, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. “But as long as one side will not compromise with the other, it is futile to expect change on the ground.”
During his statement, Barack Obama made no specific promises regarding any actions towards Syria, saying only that, “Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.”
It could be heard in General Assembly Hall that the the Secretary General’s request for the United States and Russia to work together towards a common good may be challenging to fulfill. Both Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin included thinly veiled and/or direct verbal attacks against the other. At one point Obama specifically called out leaders who “amend constitutions to stay in office,” saying that “[they] only acknowledge that they failed to build a successful country for their people because none of us last forever. It tells us that power is something they cling to for it’s own sake rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve.” While this is likely referring the nations of Central Africa, most recently the Republic of Congo, who have made it a practice for heads of state to amend constitutional limits on presidential terms in order to remain in office, this may also include a reference to Putin who has benefited from laws extending presidential terms in his own country and who has also been suspected of widespread election rigging.
It was also clear that strategies for dealing with the Syrian crisis seriously diverge between the two countries, with Obama underlining that force would not be enough to quell the conflict, saying, ”while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria. Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully…[realism] requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader,” while Putin largely implied that increased force would be the only way to end the crisis and that that force would be in cooperation with Assad. This was made clear when Putin said in his statement, “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.”
Source: EuropaNewswire – Photos by Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire