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23 september 2020

— Mark Leon Goldberg of UN Dispatch writes that on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping used their speeches to the UN General Assembly “to take potshots at each other.” In his brief prerecorded speech, Trump said, “We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.” Goldberg says Trump “also used his speech denigrate the World Health Organization, alleging it to be under the thumb of Beijing,” and says that Xi “sounded magnanimous” compared to the U.S. president in his speech. Xi “plainly used the juxtaposition of this virtual UNGA amid a pandemic to make a play for global leadership and seeking to fill the void left by the United States — even as China undertakes a massive human rights violations against the Uighurs, suppresses dissent, and cracks down on civil society in Hong Kong.” At openDemocracy, Robert Muggah is equally critical of the speech by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who “careened wildly from topic to topic” and “target[ed] enemies real and imagined.”

— Michael Hirsh argues in Foreign Policy that the United Nations is “much maligned but still necessary,” writing that though “the General Assembly has been little more than a talking shop for most of its history” and the Security Council “is all but paralyzed by worsening hostility between the U.S., China and Russia, each of which veto resolution after resolution against each other,” the UN “still critically serves U.S. interests.” Author Stephen Schlesinger “counts about 30 cases in its history where the United Nations played a peacemaking role in preventing a regional or local conflict that could have threatened a wider war — some that easily might have drawn in Washington.”

— Wednesday at 15:00 UTC, the United States Institute of Peace hosts “COVID-19 and Cease-Fires: What Have We Learned?” The online forum will be “a timely discussion on the strategies needed to pursue effective cease-fires in conflict zones.” Panelists will consider “the correlation between political willpower and conflict resolution, how the secretary-general’s cease-fire appeal was perceived on the ground in conflict zones, and whether international pressure could make a difference in advancing the secretary-general’s call.”

— In a joint statement, African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns Ramtane Lamamra and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, declare small arms enablers of armed violence, and a serious threat to peace, security, and stability. The statement reads in part, “While it is understood that illegal gun ownership by civilian populations and illicit trafficking and procurement of weapons by armed groups is often a symptom of a much deeper governance problem, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is a central problem in efforts to ‘Silencing the Guns.’ A holistic approach to addressing the issue effectively demands sustained efforts by all segments of society.”

— Andreas Bummel of Democracy Without Borders was the guest on the latest episode of the Young World Federalists podcast “After This”. The complete 50-minute episode is available online.

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