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An annual ritual on the global stage

Sep 28,2019 - Last updated at Sep 28,2019

President Donald Trump kicked off the UN General Assembly (GA) debates in new York this year by lecturing countries about what they should and shouldn’t do, and of course bragging about the US’ might and its miracle economic boom. 

As expected, Trump attacked Iran and called it a threat to world peace. Trump is now obsessed with Iran, especially after its missile and drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. 

Trump also censored China on its trade practices as if igniting once again the feud with the country. For a while, the international community was hoping for relaxation of trade tensions between the two biggest economies, but these hopes have been dashed once again. 

The US president offered no solution to the Palestinian question and left the parties gasping for hints on his so-called "deal of the century".

Of course Trump said nothing encouraging about climate change or other global issues like the plight of refugees on a scale unheard-of before, exploitation and persecution of religious minorities or other basic human-rights concerns. 

President Trump spoke to the UNGA while his mind was occupied elsewhere after new reports that many democrats are demanding his impeachment more forcefully than ever after the alleged telephone call he made to the President of Ukraine purportedly asking him for a quid pro quo favour by gathering damning information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. 

As it turned out, most world leaders who spoke from the rostrum of the UN "sang" their old, familiar songs and really offered no new ways of going about dealing with them. 

On the Middle East, many speakers addressed the Palestinian conflict in passing and the Arab Gulf region's recent escalation of tensions, but stopped short of offering any meaningful solutions. 

This annual masquerade makes one wonder about the value of holding such elaborate openings for the UN General Assemblies. The best evidence that the ritual has become increasingly irrelevant is the number of empty chairs in the assembly hall after the first round of speakers, who are usually placed at the beginning to ensure a wider audience. 

On the other hand, heads of delegations don't go to New York to make speeches, but rather to hold important talks with other world leaders on the sidelines of the General Assembly event. 

That's when deals or understandings are struck between nations. The UNGA offers the venue and the occasion with minimum protocol. This way, better relations between capitals are cultivated and tensions between them are contained. 

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