UN General Assembly’s 69th session gathers in NY

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Obama UN
President Barack Obama addresses the UN General Assembly.

Over 140 international leaders have gathered at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, for the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

The UN was founded in 1945 to promote global cooperation and replace the League of Nations, which had been created in 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I.

Within the UN, the General Assembly is the only branch of the organization where all nations have equal representation. Big decisions, like those on peace and security, require a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Others can be achieved with just a simple majority of over 50%. This balance is very different from the UN Security Council‘s “power of veto” that lets any of its five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – block decisions.

The General Assembly this week followed the UN Climate Summit, which brainstormed solutions to the growing environmental problems created by manmade pollution. Conversations and speeches centered on political and humanitarian issues that demand short-term and long-term action. USA President Barack Obama called for international teamwork on containing the Ebola outbreak crisis sweeping through Africa and battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – military extremists who continue engulfing the Middle East in chaos.

Even Iran is concerned about ISIS, despite being at odds with the USA and UK for decades over nuclear power development. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met face-to-face with UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week, in the first such meeting between leaders of the two nations since 1979. This comes just months after Rouhani made a groundbreaking phone call to Obama in September last year, signaling an easing of tensions between Iran and the West. Economic sanctions (trade restrictions) have been organized against Iran by Western powers for years, since they’re concerned that Iran’s nuclear program is meant for weaponry, rather than just energy purposes. Slowly, sanctions are being lifted as Iran agrees to inspections and limited development.

As countries work to heal the environment, solve the Ebola crisis, and combat military extremists, leaders are hopeful that they can create lasting solutions.

Images courtesy of United Nations.