World leaders have been participating in the UN General Assembly in New York since last week. This meeting’s theme is to promote multilateral efforts to eradicate poverty, improve the quality of education, and take action against climate change. Many events have already generated controversies, such as activist Greta Thunberg’s look at Donald Trump, Nayib Bukele’s selfie, or the book of Venezuela’s delegate.
But what is the UN General Assembly and what is it for? The General Assembly is one of the main organs of the United Nations where each of the UN’s 193 countries has a single representative with equal voices and votes. The same is not true for the remainder of the UN bodies.
The Assembly begins on the third Tuesday in September each year and lasts about three months where high-level meetings, conferences, and different sessions are held. Issues are discussed, budget quotas for nations are approved, and measures for the settlement of conflicts between countries are recommended. Although the Assembly has critics, it holds an enormous influence.
Recent media pressure from organizations and activists has forced world leaders to defend domestic policies. This process has now led to the discussion of fires and deforestation in the Amazon among other issues.
“Urban water and sanitation services are subsidized while rural families must finance services by one hundred percent. “
Debates also take place around UN offices where demonstrators protest different causes by taking advantage of the presence of international media and the leaders themselves. Tierra Grata was able to observe Iranian protests about gender equality and Chinese protests over forced organ donation. Iranian demonstrators protested the more than 120,000 people who have been imprisoned for their promotion of gender equality. The protestors carry photographs of Sahar Khodadadi, nicknamed the #BlueGirl, who set herself on fire after being held by the authorities for entering a stadium to view a soccer game, which is banned in Iran.
The Chinese demonstrators, dressed in yellow vests, protest the government corruption which allows for the kidnapping, torture, and disappearance of Chinese citizens who have their organs stolen in the country’s prisons. These organs are then sold to wealthy families for transplantation in hospitals built exclusively for that purpose.
Each leader and each country has its own priority to deal with in the General Assembly, with Colombia and Tierra Grata no exception. Thanks to the support of RB, Tierra Grata’s strategic ally, our organization was able to present on water and sanitation for one of the complementary panels called “No one should be left behind.” This presentation was also shared with other global organizations such as Water.org and Global Citizen.
“We will continue to work with sustainable solutions to meet the demand for energy, water, and sanitation in rural communities“