News

World Leaders Unite

More than 120 world leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York City this week

September 19, 2011
JOHN MINCHILLO—AP

Diplomats stand in front of the United Nations in New York City, ahead of the U.N. General Assembly.

World leaders will gather at the United Nations (U.N.) in New York City this week. They plan to work together on topics including climate change, global security and world health concerns. More than 120 presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers are expected to attend the U.N. General Assembly's annual gathering.

The meeting officially opens on September 20 and will run through September 27. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited leaders to come to New York a day early to discuss the prevention and treatment of non-infectious, chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. The diseases affect millions of people across the globe. "This is a landmark meeting," Ban said. "Three out of every five people on Earth die from the diseases that we gather here to address." Dozens of world leaders are expected to attend the special two-day conference.

Hot Topics

Several controversial topics are on the agenda for the General Assembly this week. One of them is the Palestinian plan to seek official U.N. membership for its territories in the Middle East. Currently, they hold the status of permanent observer in the General Assembly. This means that the Palestinian delegation, or group of representatives, can speak, but cannot vote on issues. The Palestinian bid for recognition as a state would go to the U.N. Security Council for a vote.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the U.N. Headquarters, on September 19, 2011, in New York City.
MARIO TAMA—GETTY IMAGES
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the U.N. Headquarters, on September 19, 2011, in New York City.

The U.S. is a member of the Security Council and has vowed to veto the bid. The U.S. says that a Palestinian state can only be established by resuming peace talks with Israel. The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has a long and violent history. Both groups claim the same land as their rightful home.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Friday.

Despite “tremendous pressure,” Abbas said nothing would persuade him to drop the request. "From now until delivering the speech at the General Assembly, we have no thought except going to the Security Council," he said. "Then, whatever the decision is, we will sit with the leadership and decide."

The future of Libya will also be discussed at the annual gathering. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to offer his support for Libya's new government and discuss plans for how to rebuild the African nation after months of war.

New York Gets Set

The yearly summit always brings a bit of chaos and crowding to New York City. Presidential motorcades and street closings cause traffic jams.  And demonstrations by people who feel strongly about various issues require extra police officers to keep the peace.


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