7 September 2018

World leaders will gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly

7 September 2018 - The focus of international news at the end of September will be once again on the United Nations Headquarters in New York for what is widely considered, the largest diplomatic gathering of the world. The annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, with the participation of more than 150 Heads of State and Government, is the occasion for world leaders to gather in one place to discuss global and complex issues. They take the chance to talk about pressing topics of national, regional or international relevance but also about their countries' challenges and priorities, the key points of their foreign policies and their perspectives towards multilateralism.

According to the United Nations Charter, the General Assembly is composed by "all the Members of the United Nations" (article 9) -193 to this date- and is entitled among other things, to "discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present [United Nations] Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the present Charter, and except as provided in Article 12, may make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council or to both on any such questions or matters" (article 10). For this reason, it is seen as the main deliberative, policymaking and representative main organ of the United Nations as a whole.

Article 20 of the same instrument stipulates that this intergovernmental body "shall meet in regular annual sessions". Precisely, the 73rd session opens this year on 18 September 2018 presided by María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador). Shortly after, a total of seven high-level meetings will take place, including the annual General Debate, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit and the events Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentAction for PeacekeepingFight to end TuberculosisCommemoration and promotion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Comprehensive review of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases

The annual General Debate however, is one the highlights that gets most of the attention. Following established practice, the first speaker is the Secretary-General of the United Nations who presents a snapshot of his report "on the work of the Organization" (the one of this year can be seen here). This is followed by statements by the President of the General Assembly, the President of Brazil and the President of the United States as host country. Also following established practice, a voluntary 15-minute time limit for statements is usually observed. Heads of State and Government also have the opportunity, being all gathered at the same time, to have bilateral meetings with their peers.