Stormy session: Trump set to preside over UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS: He has chaired board meetings, cabinet meetings and starred in a reality television show, but on Wednesday US President Donald Trump will wield the gavel in the United Nations Security Council to denounce Iran for what it sees as its malign regional behaviour.

Trump is able to preside over the 15-member council as the United States holds the monthly rotating presidency, which coincides with the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week.

“I am sure that’s going to be the most watched Security Council meeting ever,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters.

But despite the unpredictable nature of Trump, some diplomats aren’t expecting a reality television performance in the Security Council, where nearly every member is likely to be represented by their prime minister or president except Russia and China, which are expected to send ministers.

“I don’t think it will be that entertaining at all,” said one senior UN diplomat.

“Even those who don’t like him, the attitude of all other heads of state and government in a public meeting when faced with any president of the United States of America is to be on their best behaviour,” the diplomat said.

Rare meet

It is rare for the council — formed in 1945 to maintain international peace and security — to meet at the head-of-state and government level.

This will be the third time the body is chaired by a US president. It has the ability to impose sanctions or authorise the use of military force.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said there are no plans to adopt a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We want to make sure [Iran] understands the world is watching. That’s the biggest reason for this meeting,” she said earlier this month.

The topic of the meeting will be non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, a broad issue that allows leaders around the horseshoe table to raise a variety of subjects from North Korea to chemical weapons attacks in Syria and Britain.

However, Trump signalled on Twitter he will zero in on Iran, when he posted: “I will chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran.”

Threat to multilateral world order sees soaring attendance

UN, New York: With rising unilateralism challenging its very existence, the United Nations convenes its annual meeting of world leaders today and will try once more to tackle problems together as a community of nations.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the General Assembly session, a significant increase from last year’s 114 and one of the highest in recent times.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the expected large turnout “eloquent proof of the confidence of the international community in the United Nations,” though other UN officials and diplomats said it’s in response to growing concerns about an increasingly turbulent world.

Working together Guterres said last week that one of his overriding concerns in an increasingly globalised world is the threat to having the UN’s 193 member nations work together, which is the foundation of the United Nations. “Multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely when we need it most,” the UN chief said.

“In different areas and for different reasons, the trust of people in their political establishments, the trust of states among each other, the trust of many people in international organisations has been eroded and… multilateralism has been in the fire.”

Why Iran and North Korea will dominate global gathering

Sharp divide between US, uneasy allies in the spotlight

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump made quite a splash at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders last year.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, he blasted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as ‘Rocket Man’, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and warned of global peril from “loser terrorists” and the “wicked few.”

It was standing room only for presidents, prime ministers and diplomats curious about America’s most undiplomatic president.

When Trump returns to the UN tomorrow, he is expected to claim that his brash diplomacy has eased tensions with North Korea and that Daesh is on the run.

He also will discuss the opioid crisis, the danger of nuclear proliferation and his “foreign policy success,” according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

Divergent vision

She said Trump also will make it clear that he does not see international alliances and organisations — including UN agencies — as other presidents have.

“He’ll also lay down a marker that while the US is generous, we’re going to be generous to those who share our values, generous to those who want to work with us, and not those that try and stop the United States or say they hate America, or are counterproductive to what we’re doing,” Haley said.

Here is what lies ahead on the agenda this week as the 73rd UN General Assembly gets under way today:

Guterres challenged diplomats at last week’s opening of the 73rd session of the General Assembly by saying: “At a time of fragmentation and polarisation, the world needs this assembly to show the value of international cooperation.”

But whether it will be able to remains in question. ‘America First’ At this year’s gathering of presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and minsters, populist leaders will include US President Donald Trump, Premier Giuseppe Conte of Italy along with the foreign ministers of Hungary and Austria.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Trump, who champions an “America First” policy, wants to talk about “protecting US sovereignty”.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, the outgoing UN human rights chief, expressed serious concern last month that populism, intolerance and oppression are “becoming fashionable again.” — AFP


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