The “Development Dynamic” to Dominate UN General Assembly Debates
This year’s UN General Assembly, running from Sept. 19 to 26, should turn out to be less humdrum than previous such occasions. Leaders from over 140 countries are attending, although Presidents Xi, Putin and Macron and UK Prime Minister Sunak are not among them, which makes four out of the five permanent members of the Security Council. More interesting than the short speeches delivered by each country are undoubtedly the private meetings that take place on the sidelines.
On the opening day, Joe Biden delivered his usual rant against the “autocracies” threatening “democracies”, and called for more weapons for Ukraine and more war in order to defeat Russia, which was fully endorsed by Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who was present in New York City for the first time. The U.S. President also threw in a call for “de-risking” with China.
However, Brazilian President Lula da Silva, as the very first leader to intervene, had set the tone, declaring the need to fight inequality and the injustice associated with neoliberalism. (“The world is increasingly unequal; the 10 richest billionaires have more wealth than the poorest 40% of humanity.) Indirectly demolishing Washington’s and London’s claims about defending freedom, he also rejected the prosecution of Julian Assange.
Many other speakers from the Global South have given and will give voice to the demand for economic development and a more just world order, which was heard in the conferences held over recent months, from the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg (July 27-28), to the BRICS Summit and BRICS-Plus in Johannesburg (Aug. 22-24), to the G20 in Delhi (Sept. 9-10), and the just-concluded Group of 77+China Summit in Havana (Sept. 15-16) (cf. below).
Virtually all speakers in that forum denounced the six-decade long economic blockade and sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States and called for them to be lifted. But in a senseless show of force, the Biden Administration, just two days before, had renewed for twelve months the brutal embargo on the island, in effect since 1962. Within 24 hours, Washington went on to issue dozens of new sanctions against entities and individuals in Iran, Türkiye, Georgia and the U.A.E., as well as against Russia. One day after President Putin confirmed that the development of the Far East and North of Russia were Russia’s priority for the 21st century (cf. below), Secretary of State Tony Blinken noted that the 150 new punitive measures explicitly hit “those responsible for bolstering Russia’s future energy production”.
Europe has fully bought into the “sanctions craze” as well. On Sept. 15, Germany, France and the U.K. announced that they would not lift the sanctions on Iran that are scheduled to expire on Oct. 18, claiming the Islamic Republic has tested ballistic missiles and sent drones to Russia for use against Ukraine, accusations refuted by Tehran. As for “punishing” Russia, the new sanctions approved by the European Commission, according to Ivan Timofeev, would even ban the import by a Russian citizen of items for personal use, such as a car, a telephone or camera, and even soap!
Despite all such maneuvers, and try as it may, the West will not be able to impose its “rules-based order”. The only sane alternative is to join the growing dynamic for growth and cooperation.