The 76th General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly is history – after days full of speeches and side events. Who would speak for Afghanistan and Myanmar was unclear and controversial until the end.
New York (AP) – The general debate of the United Nations General Assembly ended without contributions from Afghanistan and Myanmar. After six days of speeches and side events, the 76th general debate closed on Monday with an address by the representative of East Timor.
Speeches originally announced for Monday by representatives of Afghanistan and Myanmar had previously been canceled. The respective country representations to the UN had requested to be removed from the list of speakers.
There had previously been disagreements over who should speak on behalf of the two countries. Afghan Ambassador to the UN Ghulam Isaczai was appointed before the Islamist Taliban militants took power. Myanmar representative Kyaw Moe Tun also started work ahead of the coup in his home country in the spring. After his military convictions, the government tried to replace Kyaw Moe Tun, but so far without success. The army launched a coup in early February and de facto dispossessed head of government Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Friday, a UN spokesperson pointed out that the representative officially registered as the spokesperson for Afghanistan was former ambassador to the United Nations, Ghulam Isaczai. This weekend, however, the UN mission in Afghanistan requested by email to be removed from the list of speakers, she said on Monday. This request has been met.
After seizing power in Afghanistan, the Islamist activist Taliban called on the UN to officially represent the country on the UN stage – both with a speech at the general debate and with the appointment of a dedicated ambassador to replace Isaczai. The decision on this now rests with the responsible United Nations Accreditation Committee. So far, however, no meeting of the body has been scheduled, which is why the former Afghan ambassador is at least temporarily retaining his post.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August. Former President Ashraf Ghani had previously fled the country. Germany, the United States and other Western countries are in talks with the Taliban, but they do not recognize them as a legitimate government.