It is, in many ways, the international community’s top event of the year. More than 140 leaders are expected in New York for the UN’s annual General Debate, which starts tomorrow and runs for a week.
As always, we can expect some grandstanding from presidents and prime ministers, keen to show audiences back home they are defending their interests abroad. Leaders of smaller nations will want to be seen with those of larger ones to try to increase their clout. There will be a few minor dramas, inevitable when big wigs strut for the cameras.
But what will actually get done there? What key issues are they going to highlight? With the world’s eyes upon them, what will they prioritize?
Let me flip this question to you: what would you like global leaders to prioritize?
The list of crises and critical issues facing humanity in 2023 is long.
We need to confront mass atrocity crimes happening in multiple places. We have to support justice for Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, and horrors in Ethiopia and Sudan. Governments need to address Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians, the Taliban’s gender persecution of women and girls, the abuses of Myanmar’s junta, and China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.
The list goes on…
And yet, we all know you can’t prioritize everything. By definition. The time and attention of top-level decision makers is always limited, as are budgets. Tough choices have to be made about where to spend political capital and money, and, even tougher, about what has to wait.
So, what would you do? What would you choose to prioritize?
It’s a serious question, and I would welcome readers’ thoughts on it. The world faces so many major problems related to human rights. Where would you start?