UN General Assembly gets under way in New York

US President Joe Biden expected to use speech to galvanise support for fighting climate change and strengthen backing for Ukraine

The UN headquarters in New York. Bloomberg

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Global leaders are gathering in New York on Tuesday for the start of the UN General Assembly's general debate, the world body's highest-profile event where monarchs, presidents and prime ministers outline their visions for the future.

The theme of this year’s get-together is centred on "rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity", but it comes at a moment of international crises stemming from conflict, climate change and economic inequality.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who recently warned of geopolitical tensions and deepening divides, begins proceedings with his annual state of the world report.

In keeping with tradition, his speech will be followed by remarks from Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and US President Joe Biden.

Mr Biden is the only leader from the UN Security Council's five permanent members to attend the UNGA this year. The leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France are staying away for various reasons.

He is expected to use his speech to galvanise support for fighting climate change, marshal resources for sustainable development and strengthen support for Ukraine.

“The President will absolutely reaffirm our commitment to the values of the [UN] charter,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

“And that includes sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine, so that will be featured in the speech."

Mr Biden is also expected to highlight his foreign policy achievements, in what will be his third address to the General Assembly.

While in New York, he is expected to meet Mr Guterres, Mr da Silva and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Updated: September 19, 2023, 9:43 AM