At the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday in New York City, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine presented Russia’s aggression as a worldwide unrelenting threat that would not stop at the borders of Ukraine.

“The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order,” Mr. Zelensky told the assembled leaders. He added that Russia was weaponizing essentials like food and energy “not only against our country, but against all of yours, as well.”

His remarks were among the most scathing in a series of addresses by world leaders, including President Biden, who condemned Russia’s “naked aggression” and said the United States would continue to stand with the “brave people of Ukraine.”

If the world appeases Russia, Mr. Biden asked, “can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?”

“We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow,” he added.

Unity is a frequent theme for the General Assembly, when the leaders and representatives of nearly 200 nations gather. But the world has become increasingly polarized: Russia’s war against Ukraine is pitting Moscow against the United States and its allies, while tensions between China and the United States are rising.

And nations in the global south — a collection of developing and poor countries in Africa, Asia and South America — have complained that the West has disproportionately focused on the conflict in Ukraine and ignored their crises.

Here’s what else to know:

U.N. Secretary General Ant?nio Guterres and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey were among those calling for reforming the Security Council, where five nations — the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain — hold permanent seats and veto power, making action there difficult. “The world is bigger than five,” Mr. Erdogan said. President Biden said in his remarks he supported expanding the council.

Mr. Guterres described the catastrophic flooding in Libya as “climate chaos,” called for redesigning international financial institutions and declared that he would not give up on efforts to revive the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement that for a year allowed Ukraine to export grain through a de facto Russian blockade, easing a global food shortage.

Other notable speakers still to come on Tuesday include Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, who plans to address the Assembly as the Islamic Republic faces a crisis of legitimacy amid uprisings at home. His speech will come a day after a deal with the United States freed prisoners held by Iran in exchange for the dismissal of criminal charges against five Iranians and the release of $6 billion in Iran’s frozen assets.

The General Assembly aims this year to address the concerns of the developing countries in what has become known as the “global south.” On Tuesday a session continued on the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a program aimed at helping developing and poor nations meet the objectives by 2030 for advancing health, education, gender equality and prosperity.

Michael D. Shear and Somini Sengupta contributed reporting.=

Sept. 19, 2023, 3:57 p.m. ET

Patrick Kingsley

Zelensky met with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, which has avoided sending Ukraine arms for fear of angering Russia. Asked by a reporter before the meeting during the U.N. General Assembly in New York City for his thoughts on Israel’s position, Zelensky said, “We’ll see after our meeting.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 3:53 p.m. ET
President Gustavo Petro of Colombia told the world’s leaders that migration had become a major humanitarian crisis.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Employing the rhapsodic, sweeping, anti-imperial tone for which he is famous at home, Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, used the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to call attention to a growing global migration crisis and to issue a searing condemnation of nations that respond by setting “dogs to run after migrants.”

Mr. Petro spoke just after President Biden, often making references to the United States.

“They have put people on horseback to chase with whips in their hands, with stocks and chains,” Mr. Petro said. “They have built prisons. They have grown so much in their hatred of the foreigner, of the stranger, that the prisons have been placed in the sea, so that the men and women of the south do not set foot in the lands of white people, who still consider themselves the superior race.”

Mr. Petro is Colombia’s first leftist president, and has been far more critical of the United States than his predecessors. The speech came as Mr. Petro has struggled with a humanitarian crisis at home, as hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have arrived in northern Colombia in the last two years, all of them set on crossing the Dari?n Gap, the treacherous jungle that is the only land route from South America to the United States.

Mr. Petro’s government signed an agreement in April with the United States in which both nations said they would seek to “end the illicit movement of people and goods through the Dari?n.”

But in a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Petro said it was not his goal to stop this flow, at least not with the police or military force. Instead, he said, the United States needed to focus on changing policies that he believed caused migration — including, he said, U.S. sanctions on Venezuela.

In his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Petro warned that if powerful nations did not address issues like climate change, migration would only grow. “The exodus of peoples to the north is a precise measurement of the scale of governments’ failure,” he said.

“Today there are tens of millions,” he went on. “In the year 2070 there will be three billion fleeing their beloved places, because they will be uninhabitable. In my homeland, the country of beauty, Colombia, the country of explosion of life, in 2070, only deserts will remain. The people will go north, no longer attracted by the sequins of wealth, but by something simpler and more vital: water.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 3:41 p.m. ET
Thousands of residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the nation’s capital, have been forced to flee their homes in order to escape from gangs who have taken over swaths of the city.Credit…Odelyn Joseph/Associated Press

American, Kenyan and Haitian delegations are meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week in the hopes of hashing out the details of Kenya’s offer to lead a security mission to Haiti.

Gangs have taken over swaths of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes to avoid rampant killings and kidnappings. In response to an international plea for help, Kenya proposed a mission of up to 2,000 people, including 1,000 members of its police force. It remains unclear what other countries have agreed to supply the other half.

The United States and Ecuador are expected to submit a joint resolution to the U.N. Security Council next week officially proposing the Kenyan mission.

In his speech to the General Assembly Tuesday, President Biden urged the members to authorize the mission.

“The people of Haiti cannot wait much longer,” he said.

But the core purpose of the international security mission emerged as a key stumbling block after the Kenyans initially suggested that it be used to guard important government infrastructure, such as ports, in order to enable the flow of humanitarian assistance and commerce.

A senior State Department official who was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive discussions said the Kenyans have also agreed to provide operational support in the Haitian National Police’s battle against gangs and also agreed to help strengthen the Haitian Police.

The Kenyan Foreign Ministry did not return repeated requests for comment.

The United States has said it will also provide support — but not soldiers. Instead, it is offering financing and in-kind support from the Department of Defense, which would include logistics, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the senior official said.

Haitians are sensitive to the idea of any kind of international security effort, particularly given the problems that arose with past United Nations peacekeeping forces. Poor sanitation at a U.N. compound brought cholera to Haiti, and human rights organizations denounced the number of children that U.N. soldiers fathered and abandoned.

This week’s talks include accountability measures, efforts to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse, cholera and improved water standards and sanitation, the U.S. official said.

A spokesman for the Haitian delegation did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Sept. 19, 2023, 3:36 p.m. ET

Somini Sengupta

On Wednesday, the General Assembly will drill down on climate issues. Leaders of 17 relatively small countries called on Tuesday for “a course correction” in global climate negotiations, as they pressed for a swifter transition from fossil fuels. The statement, endorsed by the leaders of Chile, France and Kenya, pointed to the looming battle in this year’s climate negotiations, which will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates, a leading petrostate.

Sept. 19, 2023, 3:17 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Zelensky’s remarks emphasized that leaders should not trust the Kremlin, and he invoked the rebellion against Putin by the Wagner mercenary group in June, which ended with a deal between the Russian government and Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin died last month in a place crash that Western officials blamed on Russian authorities. “Evil can’t be trusted,” Zelensky said. “Just ask Prigozhin.”

Credit…Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 2:59 p.m. ET
Derna, Libya, was heavily damaged by flooding resulting from extreme rainfall.Credit…Mahmud Turkia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As the United Nations General Assembly meets in New York, with the issue of climate change on the agenda and cited by a number of leaders in their remarks on Tuesday, an international group of scientists said the extreme rainfall in Libya this month was made up to 50 times as likely by climate change.

The same storm that hit Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey was “the deadliest and costliest storm over the Mediterranean and Africa respectively, on record,” said Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London and one of the leaders of the new research, at a news briefing on Tuesday.

Climate change is causing rain in many places to fall in shorter but more intense bursts. Climate scientists have been projecting stronger storms for “a long time now,” Dr. Otto said.

“It is a worldwide phenomenon,” said Kostas Lagouvardos, a meteorologist and research director at the National Observatory of Athens. “When it rains today, it rains a lot.”

The scientists are part of World Weather Attribution, a coalition of scientists that investigates the role of climate change in extreme weather events. The scientists use a peer-reviewed method to compare today’s climate, which has been warmed by the burning of fossil fuels, with a climate of the past.

This kind of rainfall is still extremely unusual in Libya, the scientists said, and even in today’s climate is only likely to occur once in every 300 to 600 years. (Each year, there is a less than 1 percent chance of similar storms happening). They also pointed out that the rain combined with the region’s built environment, leading to disastrous flooding that has killed and displaced thousands.

In contrast, the heavy but less extreme rainfall over the larger region encompassing Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey is now a relatively common weather phenomenon. Similar amounts of rain are likely to fall once every 10 years, or have a 10 percent chance of happening each year. A smaller area in central Greece received more extreme rain than the rest of the region, leading to at least 17 deaths.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:51 p.m. ET
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressing world leaders in a recorded speech at the U.N. General Assembly last year.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

It has been a year since President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a videotaped speech to the U.N. General Assembly and demanded the world punish Russia for invading his country.

That speech came seven months after Russian forces failed to take the capital, Kyiv, and after evidence of Russian atrocities had emerged when Moscow’s troops retreated. The previous General Assembly debate also occurred a week after Ukrainian forces, fortified with Western arms, had carried out an offensive in the Kharkiv region that swiftly recaptured 1,000 square miles of Russia-occupied land.

A lot has changed since then. Here are some major events in the war:

September 2022

In a rapid offensive, Ukraine retook much of the northeastern Kharkiv region and seized the initiative in the war. Ukraine would recapture the eastern city of Lyman the next month.


In a blow to Moscow’s war effort, an explosion damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge linking occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland. Two days later, Russia launched a barrage of airstrikes against Ukraine, the start of a campaign against the country’s energy infrastructure.

Russia announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions despite international condemnation and its loss of ground in some of those areas.


Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson to the eastern side of the Dnipro River after weeks of steady attacks from Ukraine, a significant victory for Kyiv.


With little territory changing hands on the battlefield, Ukraine carried out drone attacks on military bases hundreds of miles inside Russia.

January 2023

Ukrainian forces struck a building in Donetsk that was housing Russian troops. Moscow acknowledged the deaths of 89 soldiers in the attack; Ukraine said hundreds had been killed or wounded.

Moscow launched waves of missile and drone strikes aimed at crippling Ukraine’s energy grid during subfreezing winter weather, killing civilians. The campaign mostly failed because of Ukraine’s ability to quickly repair the damage.


The International Criminal Court accused President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia of war crimes and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The court cited Mr. Putin’s responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children, thousands of whom have been sent to Russia since the invasion. It also issued a warrant for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, the public face of the Kremlin-sponsored program that transfers children out of Ukraine.

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, and Mr. Putin met face to face on March 20 in Moscow, where Mr. Xi hailed the two nations as “good neighbors and reliable partners.” China had been pushing a peace plan that many Western diplomats saw as tilting toward Russia.


Russia launched its first widespread aerial assault in months against civilian targets, killing at least 25 people, in a return to its tactic of bombarding cities far from the front line to demoralize Ukrainians.

A classified document leak traced to an American airman suggested that Ukrainian forces were in more dire straits than Kyiv’s government had acknowledged and in need of ammunition for its air defenses.


Ukrainian forces that had been holding out in a small section of the eastern city of Bakhmut were pushed out of the area after months of brutal fighting, giving Russia a costly victory. Wagner mercenaries had spearheaded the Russian assault, though they took heavy losses. The fighting continues just outside the city, however.

Drone attacks on the Kremlin marked the start of a new phase in the war. Over the next two months, Ukraine launched numerous drone attacks deep into Russian territory, a New York Times analysis found.


A major dam on the Dnipro River was destroyed by an explosion on June 6, flooding the war zone downstream, wreaking destruction on dozens of towns and causing environmental destruction.

A few days later, Ukraine’s forces, after months of anticipation, launched a counteroffensive aimed at driving a wedge between Russian forces in the south. The attack employed brigades trained by the West in complex warfare tactics and armed with billions of dollars of NATO armor and other sophisticated weaponry.

On June 24, the founder of the private Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, carried out a brief rebellion against the Kremlin after claiming the Russian Army had attacked his fighters. Though Mr. Prigozhin ended the mutiny after a day, he was later killed in a plane explosion that was widely seen by Western intelligence officials as a Kremlin-orchestrated assassination.


Russia pulled out of a wartime agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that had allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea. Over the following weeks, Moscow launched numerous aerial assaults on Ukraine’s ports, further crippling its ability to ship grain.


Stian Jenssen, chief of staff of NATO’s secretary general, set off a storm of criticism in Ukraine and was forced to apologize after he raised the possibility of negotiations and Ukraine’s surrendering land as options for ending the war. “I think that a solution could be for Ukraine to give up territory and get NATO membership in return,” he said during a panel in Norway.

Though he added the standard line, “It must be up to Ukraine to decide when and on what terms they want to negotiate,” his comments underscored how talking openly about peace deals with Russia has become taboo among Ukraine’s allies.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:36 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Zelensky plans to raise the Ukrainian peace plan — which has been either fully or partially endorsed by more than 140 countries — at the Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, is also expected to attend the Council meeting, potentially bringing Ukraine’s leader to the same table with a senior Russian official for the first time since the war began.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:37 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dimitry Polyanskiy, remained in Russia’s seats during Zelensky’s remarks, taking notes, looking at his phone and smiling.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:29 p.m. ET

Andrew E. Kramer

Ukraine has been seeking backing for a 10-point settlement program that demands a full Russian withdrawal and payment of reparations. Zelensky pitched the audience an idea for a summit with that program on the agenda — something Ukrainian diplomats say would be a symbolic success, even without any means to enforce such a settlement on Russia.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:26 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Zelensky, as expected, pushed back against a peace plan that would be anything less than a military victory for his country over Russia, saying there was a chance to “end the aggression on the terms of the state that was attacked.” His words drew sustained applause, and he concluded his speech with “Slava Ukraini,” or”Glory to Ukraine.”


CreditCredit…UNTV via Reuters

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:19 p.m. ET

Richard P?rez-Pe?a

Painting Russia as a habitual aggressor, Zelensky noted Moscow’s military interventions in Moldova, Georgia and Syria; its increased control of Belarus; and its threats against the Baltic states. “The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 2:19 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Zelensky says Ukraine has the names of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children who have been kidnapped and transferred by Russia and was trying to get children back home. “Time goes by; what will happen to them?” He calls it “clearly a genocide.” The International Criminal Court indicted Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, over the practice of forcibly transporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:16 p.m. ET

Andrew E. Kramer

Zelensky’s rumination on nuclear war underscores an issue that has hung over the fighting in Ukraine since the opening days of Russia’s invasion. Excessive fear of great power conflict, he said, has allowed Russia to pursue an aggressive foreign policy for years.

Sept. 19, 2023, 2:13 p.m. ET

Richard P?rez-Pe?a

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine began his speech to the General Assembly by saying that while the world has focused on the threat of nuclear weapons, Russia is weaponizing essentials like food and energy, “not only against our country but against all of yours as well.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 2:14 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Zelensky’s presence this year will keep the spotlight on the war, even amid an effort by the U.N. to not have Ukraine dominate the theme of the General Assembly this time around.

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:58 p.m. ET
Ukrainian soldiers near the southern front in September last year.Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky will be addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday against the backdrop of Ukraine’s slow-moving and bloody counteroffensive to drive Russian forces from the country’s south and east.

When the campaign launched in June, officials had hoped Ukraine’s military could replicate the successes of last year and quickly retake large swaths of Russian-held territory.

Instead, Ukrainian forces initially made almost no progress. The pace of gains has increased in recent weeks, although Kyiv’s troops have yet to decisively penetrate the Russian defenses while also taking heavy casualties.

But war tends to be a grind. The types of routs that let Ukraine retake thousands of square miles in the northeast last year are rare. Fighting frequently involves chipping away at an enemy, like Ukraine’s retaking of a small but strategic village in the east on Sunday. Such advances try to build toward a big breakthrough, although one may never come.

That was true most famously during the trench warfare of World War I but also in World War II, the Korean War and the U.S. Civil War. “War is not always the spectacular triumph,” said George Barros, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. “It’s largely the really boring stuff that you don’t see — all the groundwork setting up the conditions for the triumphs.”

In other words: Ukraine and its allies, including the United States, may have set their expectations for the counteroffensive too high.

Ukraine’s leaders still hope to achieve a breakthrough that divides Russian troops in the east and south, but movements will become more difficult in the weeks ahead: By November, muddy season will have arrived.

The military’s initial plan was to use infantry, tanks and other armored vehicles supplied by the West to roll through Russian forces in Ukraine’s southeast, splitting off Russian troops in the occupied peninsula of Crimea from the eastern region of Donbas, hindering Moscow’s ability to reinforce or resupply its armies in either area.

But Ukrainian forces ran into staunch Russian defenses, particularly large minefields, and those early efforts proved costly, in both lives and equipment. So Ukraine’s military changed its approach, focusing more on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles.

Last month, Kyiv’s troops finally made modest but meaningful gains, piercing Russia’s first line of defense in the southeast. Ukraine’s military in recent days says it has retaken two more villages in the east.

“Offenses are not linear affairs,” said Stacie Goddard, an international security expert at Wellesley College.

Ukraine’s military wants to widen the lanes its forces have opened through Russia’s first lines of defense, which could allow it to move many more forces through and try to carry out the original plan for a swift counteroffensive.

And if Russia has stationed its strongest forces on the front line, Ukraine could break through subsequent lines more easily. “A lot depends on how strong these remaining Russian defenses are,” my colleague Eric Schmitt, who covers national security, told me.

But the time to make a rapid advance could be dwindling. As rain arrives this fall, the terrain will get muddier and harder to traverse, likely preventing major battlefield gains.

In the meantime, Russian forces have stepped up attacks in the northeast. In doing so, Russia hopes to retake some of the territory it lost last year, and force Ukraine to divert its troops and resources to the northeast. If enough Ukrainian forces are kept from the southeastern front, the counteroffensive’s last big push could fail.

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:55 p.m. ET

Lynsey Chutel

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s leader, said war in Europe and elsewhere has distracted from the U.N.’s development objectives. “It is a great indictment that we can spend so much money on war, in fact trillions are spent on war, but we cannot take basic action to meet the basic needs of people around the world,” he said.

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:52 p.m. ET

Lynsey Chutel

The South African president also called on wealthier countries on make good on their commitments to provide $100 billion to help developing countries adapt to climate change. He said Africa bore the brunt of a warming climate, despite bearing the least responsibility for climate change. “This must be changed and the money must be made available in the interest of development,” he said.

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:48 p.m. ET

Lynsey Chutel

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa called in his remarks for a peaceful resolution of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Pointing to separate talks in June, when African leaders meet the leaders of both countries, Mr. Ramaphosa reiterated a call to speak to both sides of the conflict. “South Africa has consistently advocated for dialogue, for negotiation and diplomacy,” he said.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 1:48 p.m. ET

Lynsey Chutel

Earlier today, Ramaphosa met with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. The two leaders discussed “the peace initiative, exchange of the prisoners of war, the return of children and the revival of the grain deal,” the South African leader wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. In his remarks to the General Assembly, Ramaphosa said Zelensky had assured him that the peace initiative was “bearing fruit.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:21 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, delivered a scathing speech against Israel, saying its treatment of Palestinians was tantamount to an ”apartheid system in the 21st century” and said even supporters of the Jewish state were growing concerned with its policies. Qatar, a close ally of both the U.S. and Iran, has been a holdout among Arab countries taking steps to normalize relations with Israel.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 1:43 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

He also slammed the burning of the Quran in Sweden, which has spurred a wave of protests in the Muslim world and appears to be delaying Sweden’s bid to join NATO. He called the episodes acts of provocation and said that violating “the sanctity of others deliberately should not be seen as freedom of expression.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is the eighth speaker of the day. The leaders are asked to limit their remarks to 15 minutes, but most go far beyond that, sometimes more than twice the designated time. The Assembly also takes an hour for lunch, and speeches scheduled for the morning can spill over into the afternoon, and that session can drag into the night.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:49 p.m. ET

Lisa Friedman

John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, met today with China’s vice president, Han Zheng, on the sidelines of the United National General Assembly. The meeting came amid U.S. efforts to pressure Beijing, the world’s largest polluter, to do more to tackle global warming as nations prepare for a global climate summit in Dubai in November.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:48 p.m. ET

Safak Timur

The Turkish president repeated his long-standing position about Palestine’s independence. ”It is hard for Israel to find the peace and security it looks for, without realization of an independent Palestinian state with territorial integrity on the grounds of 1967 borders,” Erdogan said.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:47 p.m. ET
President Biden at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The first reactions to President Biden’s remarks by climate activists were not glowing.

“President Biden’s U.N. speech rightly recognized the climate dangers of fossil fuels, but Biden ignored his own immense powers to get us off them,” said Jean Su, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Biden administration has sought to emphasize its commitment to addressing climate change, highlighting the president’s role in shepherding through the most ambitious climate law in recent years and making $370 billion in public funds available for the transition to renewable energy.

But at the same time, the administration has continued to issue permits for new oil and gas projects, infuriating many voters for whom climate change is a major issue, especially in the progressive flank of the Democratic Party.

The United States also remains a top producer and exporter of oil and gas.

“While we commend the Biden administration’s investments in the energy transition to renewables, it is crucial to recognize that true climate leadership starts by tackling what’s fueling the crisis: unhinged oil and gas expansion,” Ebony Twilley Martin, head of Greenpeace USA, said.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:34 p.m. ET

Richard P?rez-Pe?a

Erdogan endorsed calls to reform the U.N. Security Council, where five nations — the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain — hold permanent seats and veto power, making action there difficult. “The world is bigger than five,” he said. “The Security Council has ceased to be the guarantor of world security and has become the battleground for the political strategies of only five countries.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 12:35 p.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

The Security Council’s failures to resolve conflicts in Ukraine and beyond has drawn condemnation from some world leaders. Earlier the U.N. secretary general, Ant?nio Guterres, also called out the Council for being ineffective and hampered by rivalries.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:30 p.m. ET

Safak Timur

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said in his address that his country was pressing ahead with its efforts to bring Russia and Ukraine to the table to negotiate an end of the war. ”We will keep up with our efforts to end the war with diplomacy and dialogue on the grounds of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity,” he said.So far, efforts to negotiate a peace have gone nowhere.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:19 p.m. ET

Somini Sengupta

The first reactions from climate activists to President Biden’s remarks at the United Nations General Assembly were not glowing.

“President Biden’s U.N. speech rightly recognized the climate dangers of fossil fuels, but Biden ignored his own immense powers to get us off them,” said Jean Su, of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Sept. 19, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ET
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the U.S. Capitol before addressing a joint session of Congress in December.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

A year after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine gave a blistering speech to the U.N. General Assembly calling for Russia to be punished for invading his country, he is expected to renew his demand when he addresses the gathering in New York on Tuesday.

Much has changed in the intervening year, however, both on and off the battlefield.

Last September, Mr. Zelensky delivered his address by video, remaining in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where his presence had become a symbol of the government’s defiance. This year, he will attend the U.N. event in person as part of a flurry of diplomacy intended to press Ukraine’s cause.

Mr. Zelensky is expected to use his speech to again call for military and diplomatic support for Ukraine’s war effort, including modern battle tanks, rocket systems and air defenses.

After he landed in New York City on Monday, he visited Staten Island University Hospital, where Ukrainian soldiers are being treated for war injuries, photos on his channel on the Telegram messaging app showed.

One objective of Mr. Zelensky’s visit to the United States will most likely be to rebut calls by some conservatives in the United States for stricter limits to be placed on the amount of aid that Washington gives to Ukraine. At the same time, he must seek to drum up support for his country’s cause among nations that have avoided taking sides in the war, including South Africa, India and Brazil.

Mr. Zelensky visiting with wounded Ukrainian soldiers at Staten Island University Hospital in New York on Monday.Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In one measure of the challenge Mr. Zelensky faces, his speech will come just weeks after the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi declined to condemn Russia for its invasion or its conduct in the 19 months since it launched its full-scale invasion. It merely lamented the “suffering” of the Ukrainian people.

Another issue likely to be a focus of Mr. Zelensky’s speech is grain, a major Ukrainian export. In July, Russia terminated a deal that allowed ships to carry grain from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, bypassing a Russian blockade, to world markets. The United Nations says that decision threatens millions of people in parts of Africa and the Middle East who face hunger.

After the address, Mr. Zelensky plans to travel to Washington to meet with congressional leaders and to visit the White House.

A year ago, Ukraine was pursuing an offensive that saw its forces retake a large part of the Kharkiv region in the northeast. In November it drove Russian soldiers from the city of Kherson and recaptured part of the southern region.

This time, the military context is also different. Russian forces took the eastern city of Bakhmut in May after months of brutal fighting. Ukraine, which launched a counteroffensive the following month, has faced stiff resistance from Russian forces and has yet to make a decisive breakthrough.

Mr. Zelensky has also said that Russia is hoping an opponent of military aid to Ukraine will win the next U.S. presidential election.

But Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has pledged that the United States will continue to support Ukraine. And the Biden administration is working to shore up support in Congress for an additional $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Michael Crowley and Karoun Demirjian contributed reporting.

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:54 a.m. ET

Richard P?rez-Pe?a

President Andrzej Duda of Poland described Russia’s war in Ukraine as “evil” and called for the creation of a special international tribunal to investigate and prosecute its war crimes there. “The crimes must be accounted for and the perpetrators punished,” he said. Atrocities that go unpunished, he added, “build a sense of impunity among the perpetrators.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:38 a.m. ET

Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker

Michael D. Shear reported from the United Nations and Peter Baker from Washington.


In remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden called on nations to stand with Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden sought to rally the world on Tuesday to stick with Ukraine and warned against appeasing Moscow in a way that would reward its aggression and encourage the further use of force to redraw the global map.

The president used his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly to try to counter war fatigue both at home and abroad even as House Republicans back in Washington hold up further military aid to Ukraine and neutral nations around the globe remain on the sidelines or even facilitate the Kremlin’s war.

“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence,” Mr. Biden said as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine watched from the audience. “But I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles” of the United Nations Charter “to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? I respectfully suggest the answer is no.”

“We have to stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow,” Mr. Biden continued. “That’s why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity — and their freedom.”

Mr. Zelensky offered his own stirring speech not long afterward, arguing to the assembled leaders and diplomats that President Vladimir V. Putin’s war against Ukraine was a war against all of their nations as well. He accused Moscow of weaponizing food, energy and even children with dire effects not just in his country but in far-flung corners of the world.

“The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order,” said Mr. Zelensky, speaking in English and wearing one of his trademark olive green military-style shirts. “We have to stop it,” he added. “We must act united to defeat the aggressor.”

He dismissed efforts to broker a peace deal without Ukraine’s involvement, what he called “shady dealings behind the scenes.” Characterizing Russia as an unreliable partner, he cited the recent death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary leader who had defied Mr. Putin. “Evil cannot be trusted,” Mr. Zelensky said. “Ask Prigozhin if one bets on Putin’s promises.”

Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Zelensky received strong applause from some of the delegations in the hall, but many others sat on their hands. Mr. Putin, the target of an arrest warrant for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court, did not come to New York for the annual opening session, but his envoy sat in Russia’s seat during Mr. Zelensky’s speech taking notes or looking down at his telephone.

Mr. Zelensky was to address the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday with a plan to discourage war even after the fighting in his country eventually ends and then will head to Washington, where on Thursday he will meet with Mr. Biden at the White House, stop by the Pentagon and visit Capitol Hill to plead for continuing assistance. Unlike his first wartime trip to Washington last winter, he will not address a joint meeting of Congress and will find more resistance among some far-right Republicans in the House who are trying to block Mr. Biden’s request for $24 billion more aid.

Mr. Biden has continued to provide aid using previously approved funds, and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III announced on Tuesday that American M-1 tanks would be arriving in Ukraine soon. “That will add another formidable armor capability to join the weapons that are already on the battlefield,” he said in Germany after a meeting of about 50 countries supporting Ukraine. He added: “I salute Ukraine’s brave forces, and we’ve got their backs. Ukraine’s fight is one of the one of the great causes of our time.”

Mr. Biden’s speech came as other major leaders skipped the annual opening session of the General Assembly, including Mr. Putin and President Xi Jinping of China, effectively leaving the stage to the American president. He used the opportunity to reach out to the so-called global south — the traditionally unaligned developing nations that his advisers call the “swing states” of the foreign policy world — to enlist them to the American view of the threats that Russia and China pose to the international system.

While he took an unrelenting stance against Russia’s brutal war and warned against appeasing Moscow, he drew a more measured line on China, repeating his commitment to “push back on intimidation” by Beijing while seeking ways to work together and denying that he was trying to contain the Asian giant. “We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict,” he said.

Mr. Biden mentioned a litany of other major issues confronting the world today, like fentanyl abuse, artificial intelligence, terrorism, human rights, women’s rights, L.G.B.T. rights and arms control, without breaking much new ground on any of them. He stressed the dangers of climate change as he urged more action to combat it, citing heat waves, wildfires, drought and the flooding in Libya.

“Together, these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof the world,” he said. Under his administration, he said, “the United States has treated this crisis as the existential threat from the moment we took office, not only for us, but for all of humanity.”

Mr. Biden will be using his time at the United Nations this week to meet with other world leaders. He met Tuesday afternoon with the leaders of the five Central Asian republics that used to be part of the Soviet Union — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — the first time a president has sat down collectively with counterparts with those countries.

The “Stans,” as they are often called by diplomats, have been a key area of competition between Russia and China in the years since they gained their independence from the Soviet collapse, but the United States has sought influence there as well, particularly during its ill-fated war in Afghanistan. Mr. Biden’s meeting with their leaders is in keeping with his strategy of bolstering relations with nations in China’s neighborhood to counter assertive actions by Beijing.

On Tuesday evening, Mr. Biden and Jill Biden were to host a reception for other world leaders at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On Wednesday, he was scheduled to sit down separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva of Brazil.

His meeting with Mr. Netanyahu will be their first in the United States since Mr. Biden became president, a much-delayed get-together that, tellingly, will not take place at the White House amid tension over Mr. Biden’s outreach to Iran and the Israeli leader’s efforts to diminish the power of courts in his country. In his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Biden touted his efforts to open diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia while emphasizing his support for a two-state solution to Israel’s conflict with Palestinians.

While Russia and Ukraine were only a portion of his address, far less so than last year, they represented the core tension in the room as one of the United Nations’ founding members and permanent Security Council members was excoriated from the famed emerald green rostrum. Mr. Biden complained that Mr. Putin had been “shredding longstanding arms control agreements,” while Mr. Zelensky noted that his country had given up its nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise by Russia to respect its independence, a promise now violently broken.

Mr. Zelensky said that tens of thousands of Ukrainian children had been taken from occupied territory, sent to Russia and, he added, turned against their home country and relatives. “This is clearly a genocide,” Mr. Zelensky said. “When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there.”

“Each decade, Russia starts a new war,” he added, noting Moscow’s invasions and military interventions in Moldova, Georgia and Syria as well as its pressure on Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Baltic republics.

“War crimes must be punished, deported people must come home and the occupier must return to their own land,” Mr. Zelensky said before finishing with the historical national saying that has become a defiant mantra since the war began: “Slava Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine.”

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:35 a.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

King Abdullah of Jordan received applause when he said there must be clarity for the fate of millions Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and as refugees in neighboring countries after more than seven decades of conflict. “Our region will continue to suffer until the world helps lift the shadow of the Palestinian-Israel conflict,” he said, calling for the two-state solution to return to the top of the global agenda.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 11:26 a.m. ET

Edward Wong

Reporting from the United Nations

Rayhan Asat, who will speak at a panel on China’s repressions of ethnic Uyghurs, with a portrait of her younger brother, Ekpar, in Washington in 2020.Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

The Chinese mission to the United Nations has sent a letter to the U.N. missions of other nations telling them not to have their diplomats attend a panel on Tuesday in New York City that will discuss China’s repressions of ethnic Uyghurs.

The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, said that the three groups organizing the event — the Atlantic Council, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International — “are plotting to use human rights issues as a political tool to undermine Xinjiang’s stability and disrupt China’s peaceful development.”

The panel is one of the many events taking place this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. China has sent a vice president, Han Zheng, to the Assembly rather than its top diplomat, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The panel is expected to have five speakers, including Rayhan Asat, an advocate for Uyghur rights whose younger brother, Ekpar, has been serving a prison term in the Xinjiang region of China after being detained in 2016 and convicted of inciting ethnic hatred; Agn?s Callamard, secretary general for Amnesty International and a former special rapporteur for the United Nations on extrajudicial killings and executions; and Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

“By intimidating participation from various U.N. missions as a form of reprisal tactic, China seeks to silence the voices of former U.N. mandate holders and top experts from foremost human rights organizations who bear witness to China’s relentless atrocities,” Ms. Asat said.

“I urge global leaders, including the U.N. secretary general, to discern these patterns of human rights abuses, listen to our analysis, and take decisive action to end the atrocities against the Uyghurs,” she added.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking and mostly Muslim ethnic group that for centuries lived in oasis towns along the Tarim Basin and in the Ili Valley of Xinjiang. China has taken measures to try to control them, including detaining many in internment camps. In January 2021, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department had determined the Chinese government was committing genocide in Xinjiang.

The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not respond to an email seeking information about its letter, which was initially reported by National Review.

Ms. Asat said officials from the governments of the United States, the European Union and Germany were all expected to deliver remarks at the panel.

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:12 a.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

President Gustavo Petro Urrego of Colombia is speaking now. He is calling for the U.N. to lead peace talks on Ukraine as soon as possible and asks, “What is the difference between the war in Ukraine and the war in Palestine?”

Credit…Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 11:12 a.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

President Zelensky, who is set to speak later, is expected to rebuke the calls for peace talks and convince world leaders to rally behind Kyiv to defeat Russia’s military.

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:08 a.m. ET

Claire Fahy

The Iranian protest is getting warmed up in Dag Hammarskj?ld Plaza, but is already loud. Many protesters are dressed in the colors of the Iranian flag. An entire section of the crowd is a drum line, beating along to the call-and-response chants. “What do we want? Regime change in Iran.” Other popular chants include: “Down with Khamenei, down with Raisi.” President Raisi is scheduled to address the General Assembly later today.

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:08 a.m. ET

Claire Fahy

There was a confronation earlier as protestors chanted the name of “Mahsa Amini,” whose death in the custody of morality police sparked protests across Iran. A counterprotester began shouting back at them, and one protester knocked a phone out of a counterprotester’s hand.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:53 a.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

A day after Iran released five detained Americans, Biden gave Iran only passing mention: one line about Washington’s resolve that Iran should never obtain nuclear weapons. He did not mention a host of other unresolved disputes, including Iran’s sale of drones to Russia for the Ukraine war and human rights violations against protestors and women — a reflection of efforts between Washington and Tehran to defuse tensions.

Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Sept. 19, 2023, 10:49 a.m. ET

Peter Baker

Biden has now wrapped up his third speech to the U.N. General Assembly. It was a fairly boiler-plate address in which he touched on all of the important issues confronting the world without offering anything particularly new on them. It was, in essence, a pitch to the economically developing nations, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, to share in the American-led vision for the world.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:45 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

Biden spent remarkably little time focusing on Ukraine, especially compared to last year, when it was the core of his speech.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:44 a.m. ET

Peter Baker

Biden turned his remarks to Ukraine, and drew the first round of applause of his remarks with a defense of Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 10:42 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

“Folks — cooperation, partnership: These are the keys to progress on the challenges that affect us all,” Biden says. This speech feels like an effort to rebut notions that America is fueling rivalry and tension around the world through confrontation with Russia and China.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:40 a.m. ET

Edward Wong

Reporting from the United Nations

Biden has touched on efforts by his administration to prod Arab nations to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. The main discussions taking place now are between the United States and Saudi Arabia, whose demands include a security agreement with the United States, as well as more and better weapons, in exchange for normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel. The Saudi king has criticized Israel for its policies and actions regarding Palestinians.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:37 a.m. ET

Erica L. Green

Climate issues have been a theme of the speeches so far, and Biden is also emphasizing the issue, which he has faced mounting pressure to more aggressively tackle. He cited heatwaves in the U.S. and China, droughts in the Horn of Africa, and the recent flooding in Libya. “Taken together these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof our world,” he said.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:34 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

On China, Biden pushes back against notions of Cold War-style competition, stressing “common efforts” on climate and other issues. (China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, is among the heads of state not attending the General Assembly this year.)

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 10:38 a.m. ET

Edward Wong

Reporting from the United Nations

Biden used the “de-risking not decoupling” language on China, which has become common parlance in his administration. It was coined by a European leader as a slogan for economic relations with China. U.S. and European leaders want to reassure China that they are not seeking to limit China’s economic growth or to sever global trade ties.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:32 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

There’s been a heavy emphasis so far from the president on collective action with allies — on climate, artificial intelligence, infrastructure and food security — mostly saving talk of war and competition for later in his remarks.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:31 a.m. ET

Erica L. Green

Biden says the Group of 20 nations has been strengthened as a “vital forum,” and cites welcoming the African Union as a permanent member. It’s notable that he has mentioned the African Union before Ukraine.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:27 a.m. ET

Farnaz Fassihi

Reporting from the United Nations

A day after five American citizens detained in Iran were freed in exchange for the release of billions of dollars of Iran’s oil assets and five Iranians charged with violating sanctions in the United States, the leaders of both nations will speak at the General Assembly. But neither will be present when the other speaks, and the countries are not expected to hold any direct meetings.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 10:26 a.m. ET

Erica L. Green

In his address, President Biden emphasizes global unity, repeating to the Assembly that “we know our future is bound to yours.”


CreditCredit…United Nations via Reuters

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:24 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

President Biden opened his speech at last year’s General Assemby with a long riff about the defense of Ukraine. Not this year — perhaps a recognition that many unaligned countries here do not believe Ukraine should so heavily dominate the global agenda.

Sept. 19, 2023, 10:21 a.m. ET

Michael Crowley

Biden refers to “an inflection point in world history,” a reference to the battle between democracy and autocracy that is one of his favorite phrases. It also has the benefit of positioning himself as a history-maker.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2023, 9:58 a.m. ET

Ant?nio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, called on nations to phase out the burning of coal, oil and gas.CreditCredit…Kim Raff for The New York Times

The United Nations chief’s convictions on how to address climate change came through unambiguously: a “phaseout of coal, oil and gas.”

“The fossil fuel age has failed,” Secretary General Ant?nio Guterres told leaders at the General Assembly.

His frustrations with big country leaders came through too. “Every country is feeling the heat but I’m not sure our leaders are feeling the heat,” he said.

These are notable word choices. Many powerful leaders, including officials in the Biden administration, acknowledge the need to capture and store the planet-warming gases produced by fossil fuels, but stop short of endorsing a phaseout of fossil fuels.

Mr. Guterres linked the climate crisis to other “existential” threats by opening his speech with the Libyan floods. The people of Libya, he said, are “victims of years of conflict, victims of climate chaos, victims of leaders near and far” who failed to bring peace.

He is correct. Human-made climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, made the Libyan floods 50 times more likely, according to a study by a group of scientists with World Weather Attribution.

Sept. 19, 2023, 9:54 a.m. ET
President Biden arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Sunday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden’s speech on Tuesday is the centerpiece of a week of international diplomacy as his administration confronts ongoing threats from Iran, tensions with Israel and the slow, grinding efforts by Ukraine to push back against Russia’s invasion.

In his third address as president to the United Nations, Mr. Biden will attempt to focus global attention on the need to protect and nurture democracies, calling for the world to continue backing Ukraine and urging advanced nations to do more to bolster economies in the developing world.

He is also expected to promote his administration’s achievements around the globe amid growing resistance to additional Ukraine aid, a looming government shutdown, inflation and listless approval ratings.

Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, with Mr. Biden effectively tied with former President Donald J. Trump in early polling, many other nations will be greeting the president with uncertainty about his staying power.

“He will lay out for the world the steps that he and his administration have taken to advance a vision of American leadership that is built on the premise of working with others to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” said Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser.

“The president will talk about how those steps — how all of those steps he’s taken so far ladder up to a larger vision.”

At the United Nations this week, Mr. Biden will also argue that the same nations that came together to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine need to focus their attention on and do more to support the desperate economic fates of some of the world’s poorest countries, many of them in the southern hemisphere.

Sept. 19, 2023, 8:48 a.m. ET
Ant?nio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Forum on Monday.Credit…Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ant?nio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, has amped up his broadsides against fossil fuel producers, calling them “planet-wreckers,” without actually naming any.

That has earned him praise from some climate activists, even though, so far, it has yielded few tangible results. Governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels, few have concrete plans to move their economies away from oil and gas, and the impacts of climate change are exacerbating extreme weather, with grievous human toll.

This week, Mr. Guterres, a seasoned politician from Portugal now in his second and last term as the head of the United Nations, is trying a new diplomatic wink-and-nod tactic. He is hosting a summit on Wednesday at which countries that have accelerated their plans to phase out fossil fuels are being invited to speak, and only if they send cabinet-level or more senior leaders. To show that they take the summit seriously.

“A naming and shaming device that doesn’t actually require naming and shaming anyone,” said Richard Gowan, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Sept. 19, 2023, 8:18 a.m. ET
Dedicated cone lanes were set up along Second Avenue near the United Nations headquarters in New York City.Credit…Bryan R. Smith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United Nations General Assembly all but shuts down parts of Midtown Manhattan each year, and residents and tourists are being asked to rely on public transportation and avoid the neighborhood as much as possible.

Traffic is expected to be gridlocked, as world leaders — and their motorcades — converge upon the U.N. headquarters, and street closures and security checkpoints fill the area. Leaders or representatives from 193 countries will be speaking and attending meetings until next Tuesday.

First Avenue will be closed along the U.N. complex, between 42nd and 48th streets, the New York City Police Department said, as will a number of side streets on the East Side. Dedicated cone lanes were created to provide speedier routes for emergency vehicles and for dignitaries traveling to and from the Assembly.

Subway trains will continue to run about every three minutes during rush hour, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said, urging riders to take advantage.

“The fastest and safest way to get around the East Side of Manhattan during the United Nations General Assembly is by taking one of the numerous subway lines that provide round the clock service,” said Richard A. Davey, the president of New York City Transit.

Increased security will lead to changes in multiple bus routes, the M.T.A. said.

Bike lanes on First Avenue and Second Avenue, which are used by 7,000 bicyclists every day, will remain open, according to the city’s Transportation Department, which has deemed each day this week a “Gridlock Alert” day, signaling that they are among the most congested traffic days of the year.

Protests organized around various causes were also expected to disrupt the surrounding areas. The Police Department said it planned to dispatch officers throughout the city to keep the week’s events safe and running smoothly.

Edward A. Caban, the police commissioner, said at a news conference last week that there were “no credible threats to the U.N. General Assembly or New York City in general.”

Several hundred police officers and traffic agents will staff security checkpoints throughout Midtown, Mr. Caban said.

The department’s aviation unit, harbor patrol and K-9 units will all be deployed, he added. Secret Service agents and members of the Diplomatic Security Service will also be on the ground.

President Biden is scheduled to speak at the Assembly on Tuesday, as is President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Sept. 19, 2023, 8:05 a.m. ET
The United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. The General Assembly has undergone tremendous changes as its influence has waned.Credit…Jos? A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

The U.N. General Assembly gathers Tuesday in New York City for its annual meeting, setting its agenda for the year to come and addressing some of the most pressing social and diplomatic issues around the world.

The Assembly, currently in its 78th session, has undergone tremendous changes as its influence has waned and global politics have shifted.

Here is how the Assembly works.

What does the General Assembly do?

The General Assembly is one of six bodies in the United Nations, including the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.

The body was established in 1945 as “the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ” of the U.N., and it is the only one within the U.N. and the wider world of international alliances (NATO, BRICS and the Group of 20, for instance) in which all 193 member states have equal representation. As a condition of membership, each state must pay an “assessed contribution” to the operations of the U.N.

“It is the place where every country has a seat,” said Peter J. Hoffman, an associate professor of international affairs at the New School and the director of its United Nations Summer Study. “It’s tough to herd the cats, but the fact that everybody is in the room together and everybody has an opportunity, that in itself creates a sort of credibility for it.”

At the meeting in New York, representatives from each member state discuss international issues as part of the General Debate and vote on hundreds of resolutions.

What are the Assembly’s powers?

Unlike the U.N. Security Council, which can impose sanctions or authorize the use of force, the General Assembly is purely deliberative. Much of its power is derived from its ability to address issues and make recommendations on matters of international importance.

“In terms of actual resolutions with teeth, that’s never going to happen because when the Security Council issues a resolution, it says, You will do this,” Dr. Hoffman said. “When the General Assembly does it, it’s a recommendation: You should do this.”

For instance, a resolution the Assembly passed in November 2022 allowed for the United Nations’ first commemoration in May this year of Palestinian displacement during the creation of Israel.

The General Assembly also appoints the U.N. secretary general, currently Ant?nio Guterres, for five-year terms and the Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent members. A new president of the Assembly is elected every year, and the position rotates among representatives of five geographic regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and others.

The Assembly meeting gives leaders a global platform. During the General Debate, each member state is allotted 15 minutes to speak on the year’s theme, but that limit is generally disregarded. Last year, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a searing rebuke of the Russian invasion of his country in a recorded address to the General Assembly.

What is on this year’s agenda?

The full theme for 2023 is “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating action on the 2030 agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals toward peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.” But the key words are “2030 agenda” and “Sustainable Development Goals.”

In 2015, the General Assembly adopted 17 objectives, collectively known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or S.D.G.s, as part of “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” They include “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” “climate action” and “gender equality,” among others.

The S.D.G.s were formally adopted under a resolution known as Agenda 2030, a reference to when some of them should be achieved, though some goals have no due date. In 2017, a resolution was passed to formalize specific indicators of progress on these goals.

“The real story is that only 15 percent of the S.D.G.s have been met and about half of them are off track,” Dr. Hoffman said.

In an effort to nudge the body, Mr. Guterres issued “a wake-up call to speed up implementation of the S.D.G.s. Member states have been given until 2024 to figure out a way to get the S.D.G.s and Agenda 2030 back on track.

How has the Assembly changed over the years?

Since its establishment, the U.N. General Assembly has grown to 193 member states as of 2011, when South Sudan was admitted, from 51 nations primarily based in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.

The U.N.’s founding coincided largely with the advent of the Cold War, which then created a wedge between the West and the East, primarily on the Security Council. But the politics of the Assembly have long been dictated by tensions between the wealthy nations of the “global north” — broadly considered to include Australia, Europe, North America, Israel, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand — and the “global south,” largely represented by former colonies of the global north across Africa, Asia and Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“By the ’60s and ’70s, you really start to see the politics change and particularly the emergence of what was called the new international economic order in the ’70s,” Dr. Hoffman said, “with a proposal basically among global south and nonaligned countries to say, Oh, the terms of the trade are really unfair between the north and the south.”

At the same time, pressure on the global south to begin addressing the destruction of the environment spurred a blistering response in a 1972 speech by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India at a U.N. conference in which she asked, “Are not poverty and need the greatest polluters?” as a statement on what she saw as the hypocrisy of the global north in dictating terms to developing countries.



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