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The Rosett Report

Crib Sheet for the UN General Assembly Opening in New York

September 24th, 2013 - 2:47 am

Heads of State jet in, motorcades and police blockades jam the streets of Manhattan, and amid the gridlock the five-star hotels, restaurants and jewelry stores do a booming business — it’s late September, time for the United Nations General Assembly’s annual opening. This event has by now so far outstripped a three-ring circus that there is no keeping track of the full scene. Dissertations could be done (to deadly effect) on the side panels alone. But here’s a quick and dirty guide to some of the highlights, and lowlifes.

The current hoopla marks the opening of the General Assembly’s 68th annual session since the founding of the UN, in 1945. Officially, this session actually began last week, on Sept. 17. But that was just the windup. The real action comes this week, as the big shots arrive for what is called the General Debate.

Though what they do in public is less a debate than a parade of theatrical statements. The UN today has 193 member states. All of them get a turn on the GA main stage. So does the Holy See, and so does the Palestinian Authority. To get through the entire lineup by next Tuesday, Oct. 1 (with a break on Sunday), the UN urges the speakers to observe a “voluntary 15-minute time limit” (and suggests that “Delegations may wish to inform their capital of this procedure”). But these are all speakers who are used to being important, if not on the world stage, then at least in their home countries; most of them are heads of state, or ministers (with the occasional vice minister or deputy thrown in). In some cases they command a world spotlight; in others they are mainly grandstanding for the folks back home. Either way, the speakers typically run over  the time limit — one memorable example being Muammar Qaddafi’s speech in 2009, which went on for more than an hour-and-a half.

So the schedule, which you can find here (the speaker lists will be added daily), is an approximate guide, with speeches starting at 9 AM, and officially divided into a morning and an afternoon session, though in practice they often run over into the lunch break and sometimes well into the evening. The best way to keep track is to follow the speaker lineup — which has its peculiarities. Were the UN an outfit with a moral compass, there might be some chance of the most repressive governments speaking last, or perhaps not speaking at all. But at the UN, protocol trumps such matters as morality, and a democracy such as New Zealand can end up waiting its turn after Iran and Sudan. The rule of thumb is that heads of state and heads of government take precedence over those of lesser title. But that doesn’t always apply. UN officials say that states sometime swap slots, or make special requests, and the basic show is a product of the inner workings of the General Assembly.

Brazil goes first, on day one. Then the U.S., the host country (Note to U.S. taxpayers, your money bankrolls 22% of the UN costs for this extravaganza, plus — especially if you are from New York — virtually all of the added security costs).

Most GA openings have their stars, or their starring events. In 2009, that was Qaddafi, who was riding so high at the UN that the tyrant himself, after years of sending his minions, decided to appear in person. The UN doesn’t do much to advertise it these days, but at the time — just four years ago — Qaddafi’s Libya had been elected to a seat on the 15-member Security Council, Qaddafi’s former foreign minister had been elevated to president of the General Assembly, and Libya was on its way to winning a seat on the “reformed” UN Human Rights Council. Last year, the signature GA event was the Assembly trying to do an end-run around the Oslo Accords, by voting to “upgrade” the PA’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”

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All Comments   (7)
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And note that Syria has been on the Security Council, but Israel is actually banned (de facto) from it.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
My question is....Will the Iranian president be wearing an Armani suit or a tent dress....That is how important this UN crap is.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you provide a forum that even an ass can use, then only an ass will use it.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
President Platitudypuss is speaking at the UN at this moment. He seems to have just committed the U.S. to going in wherever slaughtering is going on in the world. A new reinforced Red Line.
He is also using his favorite Obamistic rhetorical device. (Fake quote to make a point:) "There are those who say murder is sometimes necessary to hold a society together. Others claim murder can never be countenanced. I say there must be justice in the world."

He has also developed a slight sucking sound that peppers his speech. Eill he stop it, or will it get worse.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Will he stop it, or will it get worse?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
These Islamic bums keep goading Obama and mocking him ... I reckon Obama's gonna turn on them with a vengeance or a temper tantrum; I don't care which but it'll be high time he told the simpleton bums to eff off.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
D'oh-bama has painted himself into a corner with his big, fat mouth.

No one else did this for him.

He owns it.


He went abroad and told everyone what a nasty place America is, and told all the turd-world places what leaders they are.

They are just following his outlay and confirming for him that they agree.

However, Captain mom-jeans considers himself an outsider, not an American. He thus finds it easy to lay out some slick rhetoric for the sound-bite junkies in the media, then goes and plays golf.

Meanwhile, his socialist agenda isn't really a socialist agenda, it's a "destroy the nation" agenda and even he is surprised that the socialists he's appointed haven't figured it out yet. So when 2016 rolls around and he goes off to count his millions, he may get a few gigs to babble about how evil the US is here and there, at $330,000 a pop but, he will largely be dismissed while the country gets onto the business of correcting itself and making sure no one like him is ever elected again.

Or so I would like to hope. There is still the Hitlery problem to contend with and that runaway anger-train has got to be stopped.

29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
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