The 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly is off and running, with opening speeches last week by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the new President of the Assembly, Vuk Jeremić, espousing how much work was still to be done in global affairs.
On Monday, the General Assembly held a plenary meeting to discuss the rule of law at national and international levels and how to strengthen national and international laws and systems of justice. U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Representative to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will also brief the Assembly. He recently told Al-Jazeera that the situation in Syria is getting worse.
On Tuesday, the general debate session starts at 9 a.m. with speeches from representatives from Brazil and U.S. President Barack Obama. This will be Obama’s fourth time addressing the assembly, and he’s expected to tailor his speech for the upcoming U.S. elections in November.
On Tuesday afternoon, French President François Hollande is expected to speak on the Sahel region of North Africa, an area bordering the Sahara desert that has suffered severe droughts, which have devastated the agriculture in the region. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will also speak in the afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will both speak. Ahmadinejad will mostly likely touch on his usual topics covering the denial of the Holocaust and the "evils" of Zionism. Morsi is expected to touch on the situation in Syria, as he did at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran at the end of August.
Thursday, the day after the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur, will see the much-anticipated speech of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, asking the U.N. to upgrade the Palestinian Territory’s U.N. status from “observer” to “nonmember observer state,” which will afford them more privileges within the assembly, such as a seat at the Security Council table and recognition as a state. Abbas made a similar appeal last year, but the measure was blocked by the Security Council.
In a scheduling slot that reeks of either irony or careful strategy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak right after Abbas.
Myanmar President Thein Sein will also speak on Thursday morning. It is not yet confirmed whether Aung San Suu Kyi, who was in New York on Friday, will attend the speech.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem will speak next Monday morning. He most recently drew attention when he walked out on Morsi’s speech to the Non-Aligned Movement condemning the Assad regime.
Numerous key side meetings will take place during the proceedings this week, including Thursday when diplomats from France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the U.S. will meet to discuss the state of Iran’s nuclear program; and on Friday, the Friends of Syria Core Group will meet outside the U.N. with Western and Arab supporters of the Syrian rebels.