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Biden focuses on food security and global health at the UN General Assembly

President Joe Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, where he is expected to highlight US efforts to enhance global food security and replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and Other Epidemics.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, said on Friday that while leaders would not ignore Ukraine, the meeting would not dominate it.

We know that with this horrific war raging across Ukraine, we cannot ignore the rest of the world. She told reporters there are conflicts happening in other places.

Greenfield identified three US priorities for the General Assembly: addressing global food insecurity; advancing global health and global health security; Upholding the United Nations Charter and charting the future of the United Nations.

“We believe this is a moment to stand up for the United Nations and to prove to the world that it can still meet the most pressing global challenges,” she said.

Observers say Biden will seek to balance the interests of the United States and European allies in supporting Ukraine, isolating Russia, and the myriad problems the rest of the world faces.

“The United States and its allies will try to convince non-Western countries that while there is a very strong focus on Russia’s war on Ukraine, the West also cares about the global food crisis and [it] Become [a] “Global recession and what that will do to the developing world,” Richard Gowan, the United Nations director at the International Crisis Group told Voice of America.

Joan said that during the first phase of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western diplomats demanded Ukraine’s support from their African and Asian counterparts, but they did not hear their concerns about food security and the economic shocks associated with this war.

“Now, the United States and the Europeans are really trying to send a message that they are sympathetic to the economic concerns of the developing world, and that they are going to work to address those concerns,” he said.

Food and health security

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, food and fertilizer exports from the region have been disrupted, leading to a post-pandemic food price hike. According to the World Food Program, about 828 million people go to bed hungry every night.

Rob Voss, an economist at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said the world is now not on track to meet the United Nations goal of zero hunger by 2030.

“We need to invest a lot in agriculture and food systems or in particular, to change things in food systems so that they are more inclusive so that the poor can reap more benefits from it, that food prices remain low so that they become accessible, that production becomes more resilient. and sustainability,” Vos told VOA.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is scheduled to host a Food Security Summit on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to host a conference on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The United States provided $2 billion of the $6 billion pledged, to meet the $18 billion needed globally.

And as COVID-19 has mentioned, global health threats do not respect borders. “We must tackle COVID-19, monkeypox and other epidemics, and we must do it together,” said Thomas Greenfield.

File - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Security Council via video link during a meeting on threats to international peace and security on August 24, 2022 at United Nations Headquarters.

File – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Security Council via video link during a meeting on threats to international peace and security on August 24, 2022 at United Nations Headquarters.

Security Council reform

Thomas Greenfield said the United States would seek to advance efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council, including “reaching consensus on credible and reasonable proposals to expand the membership of the Security Council.”

The UN Security Council is made up of five permanent members with veto power – China, France, Russia, the US and the UK, and 10 non-permanent members elected by the UN General Assembly.

Joan said that while UN Security Council reform has been a recurring narrative for decades in the world organization, the United States recently said it wanted to work on it.

“I don’t think the Biden administration has a very clear plan for the kind of reforms he would like to see in the UN Charter,” Joan said. “But since the Russian attacks on Ukraine in February, many diplomats in New York have been questioning whether this organization is appropriate. [its] purpose, and the United States is responding to this general feeling that you need some reform at the United Nations in light of this conflict.”

Goan added that by demonstrating its openness to reform, the Biden administration could corner China and Russia by highlighting their reluctance to reform the council as they have the right to veto important decisions on global security.

Thomas Greenfield noted that the United States has been and will continue to abstain from exercising its veto except in “rare and unusual” circumstances. “Since 2009, Russia has used 26 vetoes, 12 of which joined China, and the United States has vetoed only four times since 2009,” she said.

She said Biden would consult with other leaders during the assembly’s high-level session to reach consensus on expanding the council.

Observers say the prospects for UN Security Council reform are bleak. The main point of contention is whether new permanent seats should be created and whether they should have a veto. Proposals are under discussion to create a new class of permanent members without a veto.