This week, more than 140 world leaders and state representatives will arrive in New York to discuss a range of international issues — including the climate crisis, the economy of the global South, and the war in Ukraine — at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The annual summit will see global policy makers take to the stage in Tuesday’s high-level General Debate — although, notably, with fewer familiar faces.
Amongst the 5 nations in the Security Council (the US, China, Russia, France, and Britain), President Biden will be the only leader to attend the meeting, with Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak both citing scheduling conflicts. Even so, this summit will be the first attended in-person by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is seeking support against Russia’s invasion in tomorrow’s session.
Since being founded in 1945, the UN has aimed to gather its member states — of which there are now 195, compared with the 51 that signed the original UN Charter — to find shared solutions to global problems. However, as the world’s needs have changed significantly, so have the UN’s priorities.
While in 2010, the majority of the UN’s budget (44%) was issued to help developing countries, the allocation for humanitarian assistance has increased substantially in the last decade, nearly doubling from 23% in 2010 to 42% in 2021. Since then, global humanitarian needs have risen further to reach record levels: amid economic hardship, conflicts, and natural disasters, the UN reported in June that 360 million people globally require humanitarian assistance — up 30% since the start of 2022.