United Nations, September 19, 2022: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will join a galaxy of world leaders Tuesday when the UN General Assembly begins its annual debate on peace and security issues — the first gathering in the in-person format since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic — with the Pakistani premier set to focus his speech on the climate-induced floods.
Ahead of the the 193-member Assembly’s 77th session, massive security measures are being clamped around the United Nations complex on the banks of East River. Barricades are being erected, roads around the UN building are being closed and police presence boosted to protect some 140 visiting leaders.
This year’s UNGA is taking place against a backdrop of complex, interconnected crises. Conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 have exacerbated inequality, poverty, and hunger across the planet, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.
“For us at this session, of course, the primary issue will be the impact of climate change, the disaster which has overtaken Pakistan as a result of global warming and climate change,” Ambassador Munir Akram, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said while responding to a question from APP correspondent.
“So this will be one the major issue for us at the present session,” the Pakistan envoy added.
Prime Minister Sharif is listed to speak at the General Assembly on September 23, and his speech will focus on the flood disaster in Pakistan and the threats posed by the climate change.
Diplomats here have highlighted the fact that the 193-member assembly was taking place at a difficult moment in the world history, with conflicts raging in Europe and elsewhere, tensions among great powers rising in the Asia and the Pacific and with the developing countries facing a triple crisis – food, fuel and finance.
There is a looming danger of recession from the impacts of climate change, as evident from the massive floods in Pakistan, it was pointed out.
Besides these issues which will dominate the UN General Assembly’s agenda, there are several other pending issues which will draw the attention of the Assembly – the Palestinian question, Afghanistan, the Iran’s nuclear deal, Korean peninsula as well as the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the oldest items on the agenda of the Security Council.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who visited Pakistan earlier this month to show his solidarity and support for Pakistan and the flood victims, has called for massive assistance to the country and urged the international community to take action to halt climate change and mitigate the impacts from the vulnerable countries.
“The need for global cooperation is more urgent than ever,” the UN chief has said, “The world is facing a stark choice: break down, or breakthrough”.
On the sidelines of the UNGA session, the prime minister will participate in the Global Food Security Summit jointly organized by the African Union, European Union and the United States, and a Closed-door Leaders Gathering on COP-27 bringing together select world leaders to discuss climate change. These will be important platforms to deliberate on effective measures required at the global level for addressing the two most pressing challenges confronting the international community today.
The prime minister will hold a number of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various countries, the President of the General Assembly, Csaba Koros, the UN chief as well as heads of international organisations, international finance institutions (IfIs) and philanthropic organizations. Leaders will also have the opportunity to interact during the receptions hosted by the UN Secretary-General and US President Joe Biden. The prime minister will also hold interactions with the international media.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will also have an extensive programme attending various high-level meetings and events, bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts, media and think-tank interactions, besides chairing G-77 and China Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers, OIC Annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers, and participation in the meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.
The prime minister’s participation in the UNGA Session is a manifestation of Pakistan’s abiding commitment to multilateralism, with the UN playing a central role in international affairs for promoting peace and prosperity worldwide, the Foreign Office said in Islamabad.
Both in its national capacity and as the current Chair of the largest international grouping of developing countries – the Group of 77 and China – as well as the current Chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, Pakistan will serve as the collective voice of the Global South to promote international peace and security, sustainable development and human rights for all, in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter, it said.