Sep 20, 2016 11:30 PM
The Latest: Watson, Ramirez bring glitz to UN women event
The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the high-level U.N. General Assembly meetings (all times local):
Emma Watson cheered the possibility of the U.S. electing its first female president. Edgar Ramirez questioned a "macho" world that teaches boys to suppress emotions and dominate women.
The actors roused up a glitzy and high-powered crowd at the Museum of Modern Art to promote U.N. Women's HeForShe initiative to draw men into the fight for global gender equality.
The organization released a report detailing progress made by 10 universities around the world that have committed to redressing gender inequality in their institutions.
Watson, the U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, drew cheers when she contemplated the possibility of the first female U.S. president.
Ramirez, a Venezuelan actor who starred in "The Liberator" and "Joy," gave an impassioned indictment of a world where "male adolescents are taught to be dominant, tough and disrespect women."
It was a unique event for the United Nations laced with nostalgia, humor and tributes — the secretary-general and the U.S. president toasting each other for the last time in front of the world's leaders.
Every year, the U.N. chief hosts a formal lunch for the presidents, prime ministers and potentates attending the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. And every year, the U.S. president responds as the representative of the host country.
But Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday's lunch was unique.
"Never before have a president of the United States and a secretary-general of the United Nations completed their terms at about the same time — within just 20 days of each other."
Ban then looked at Barack Obama, sitting just a few feet away at the head table, and said: "Mr. President, we need to find something to do!"
The United Nations says 30 more countries are expected to formally join the Paris Agreement on climate change, greatly improving the pact's chances of coming into force just a year after it was negotiated in the French capital.
More than 170 world leaders have signed the deal, but it won't take effect until 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions have ratified or accepted it through their domestic procedures. That was initially expected to take several years, but 28 countries — including the world's two biggest emitters, the U.S. and China — accounting for 39 percent of emissions have already ratified the deal.
The 30 ratifications which the U.N. expects to be handed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a special event at U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday will bring the total to more than 55 countries — but many are small and it appears unlikely that they will account for the needed 55 percent of global emissions.
Canada's prime minister has paid tribute to the people of New York for showing the world "how to be resilient and resolute" when under attack by extremists.
Justin Trudeau praised New Yorkers Tuesday in his first speech to the U.N.'s General Assembly. Alluding to the weekend bombings in New York City and New Jersey, he said city residents set an example of how to react "in the face of violent extremism."
To applause, he expressed thanks on behalf of all delegates in the assembly hall for being "a model to the world."
Ahmad Khan Rahami, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, has been arrested in the bombings.
Egypt's president has urged Israel and the Palestinians to look to the "wonderful" example set by his country and the Jewish state and agree on a solution that lets them exist in peace as two neighboring states.
Speaking Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi described the Israel-Egypt model as "a real opportunity to write a bright page in the history of our region to move towards peace."
He told delegates he was departing from the written text of his speech to make an appeal that will bring "prosperity and peace to both the Israelis and the Palestinians."
Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama says the world is facing "a crisis of epic proportions" in the form of tens of millions of refugees.
Obama is hosting a summit on refugees during the U.N. General Assembly. He says the refugee crisis tests the world's ability to end conflicts. Obama is calling it a test of the international system and a test of common humanity.
The president is lamenting that only 10 countries host the vast majority of refugees. He's pressing nations to do more to take in and support migrants.
Obama says screening refugees based on their religion would reinforce terrorist propaganda that nations like the U.S. are opposed to Islam. He says that's an "ugly lie" that all countries must reject.
It's a rebuke of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has warned about the supposed risks of accepting Muslim immigrants.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has decried the violence in Syria that has affected millions of lives and triggered the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II.
In her first U.N. speech as Britain's leader, May on Tuesday slammed the "appalling slaughter" in Syria, urging the international community to step up its efforts to bring peace to the war-ravaged country.
Championing the cause of refugees and migrants, May said that the U.K. will announce further financial contributions aimed at mitigating the crisis at a refugee summit hosted by President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
May also urged world leaders to forge "a bold, new unilateralism" which would effectively combat global terrorism and to fashion "a truly global response" to the mass movements of forcibly displaced people across the world.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has portrayed the recent failed coup in his country as a terrorist attack masterminded by a U.S.-based Islamic cleric and urged world leaders to take measures to prevent such uprisings in the future.
"It should never be forgotten that the failed coup in Turkey was aimed at world democracy as well," Erdogan told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.
Erdogan blames the July coup, which left at least 270 people dead, on an organization run by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who resides in Pennsylvania. The group runs charities, schools and businesses worldwide.
Erdogan charged that Gulen's organization fosters unrest worldwide by penetrating state and non-government institutions. Turkey is seeking Gulen's extradition; the cleric denies involvement in the coup. The Turkish government has cracked down on tens of thousands of Gulen's followers in the aftermath of the attempted coup.
Erdogan also urged the international community to work harder to end the war in Syria and provide refuge and economic assistance to people fleeing the five-year-old war. "It is a futile effort to look for peace behind the barbed wire and high walls," he said.
French President Francois Hollande has used strong language in urging world leaders to broker a solution to the war in Syria.
"Syria is now a shame, a stain for the international community," Hollande told reporters after addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. "To accept that there is a city ... where the population is starving, with humanitarian convoys attacked, with chemical weapons used and with children who become victims every day — it's the responsibility of the entire world."
Hollande urged Russia to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to abide by a cease-fire agreement that is on the verge of disintegrating, saying that backing Damascus would lead to the country's destruction. "Why is it in their interest? Because supporting the regime until the end will not lead to Syria being reconquered, but will lead to its partition and separation, and the maintaining of terrorist groups."
Hollande also urged the United States to support moderate opposition groups in Syria, but to refrain from cooperating with "groups that are not that different from the Islamic State."
Austria's chancellor and foreign minister are urging joint European Union action on tightening up Europe's external borders and a "Marshall Plan" for countries that are the main source of migrants.
Both also strove on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday to reduce fears of a rightward lurch by Austria, through increasingly restrictive policies and amid projections that Norbert Hofer of Austria's xenophobic Freedom Party has the edge in December presidential elections.
Chancellor Gerhard Kern says "life would go on" even if Hofer wins. He added, "We have a stable government, and we are part of the European Union."
Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says Austria is not alone in the EU in its switch from open to tight borders.
He says there is now an understanding in the EU that this is "a necessary position."
Jordan's King Abdullah II has offered an impassioned defense of Islam while condemning extremists as outlaws who want to "drag us back to the dark ages."
Abdullah said that combating extremism was for Muslims "a fight for our future."
But he also said that false perceptions of Islam in the West fuel terrorists' global agenda and breed further intolerance.
The leader of the Mideast nation was speaking at the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. on Tuesday.
He said that a military approach to conflict in Syria "will leave no winners, only losers on every side."
Abdullah reiterated Jordan's support for a Palestinian state, saying Israel has to embrace peace "or eventually be engulfed by a sea of hatred in a region of turmoil."
In a dramatic display of Latin America's political divisions, the delegations of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua walked out during Brazilian President Michel Temer's speech at the U.N. General Assembly.
Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Rafael Ramirez told The Associated Press Tuesday that Temer is "an illegitimate president, the product of a coup d'etat. We do not recognize him."
Ecuadorean diplomat Carola Iniguez says her country's delegation walked out "to protest the political situation in Brazil."
Temer became Brazil's president following the ouster of Dilma Rousseff by the Senate over accusations of fiscal mismanagement.
In his speech, Temer defended the impeachment process, insisting it was an example of democracy at work. He said "impeaching a president is certainly not a trivial matter in a democratic regime. But there is no democracy without rule of law — without rules applicable to all, including the most powerful. This is what Brazil is showing the world."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss measures to avoid accidental confrontation between the alliance and Russian armed forces.
"I think it is important to continue to have a chance for political dialogue open, and I look forward to meeting him tomorrow," the NATO chief told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The secretary-general welcomed Russian "interest and willingness to sit down and discuss proposals on risk reduction and transparency."
The two leaders will convene Wednesday amid increasing concerns over Russia's drills conducted without advance notification. NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow estimated that there had been about a dozen in the past two years.
Qatar's emir has criticized the weakness of the U.N. system and the paralysis of the international community in the face of the Syrian civil war and other conflicts.
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that "theoretically, the majority of the countries of the world stood by the Syrian people, but practically they were left alone supported only by some loyal friends."
He added that "red lines were set for the regime who has violated them, yet those who demarcated those lines have not felt provoked to raise a finger."
Al Thani said it is "no longer possible to ignore the weakness of the United Nations' legal and institutional system and its inability in many cases to apply standards of justice and fairness to the mechanisms of its functioning."
President Barack Obama says Nigeria has made "real progress" against an extremist organization linked to the Islamic State group.
Obama says he and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari discussed additional ways the country's military can achieve even more progress against Boko Haram militants. The group was responsible for the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls from the town of Chibok more than two years ago. Many remain missing.
The leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
President Barack Obama is telling world leaders they have to do more to open their hearts to refugees who are desperate for a home.
Obama says the world is more secure if leaders are prepared to help people in need, but they have to follow through even when the politics are hard.
He says leaders must have the empathy to imagine what it would be like for their families if the unspeakable were to happen.
Seemingly speaking of the U.S., Obama says there are a lot of nations doing the right thing, but many countries, particularly those blessed with wealth and the benefits of geography can do more to help.
The UN estimates that there are about about 21.3 million refugees forced to flee due to armed conflict or persecution.
President Barack Obama is urging nations to reject authoritarianism and embrace more open societies.
In his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Obama says the kind of thinking that favors "the strong man" over true democracy is wrong.
He says economies can only grow so much in the 21st century before they will have no choice but to open up to give entrepreneurs access to information or to allow independent media to operate. Obama says democracy is hard work and takes generations, but that the gains are worth the effort.
Obama adds that without evolving in the direction of democracy, people's expectations will go unmet, suppression and stagnation will set in and strongmen will be left to crack down on their societies or scapegoat enemies, leading to war.
President Barack Obama is telling world leaders that a paradox defines the world today as the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before.
Yet, he says that people are losing trust in institutions, which makes governing more difficult. Obama says world leaders can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration, or they can retreat into a world that is sharply divided and ultimately in conflict.
Obama is addressing the United Nations for the final time as president.
Obama says the benefits of global integration need to be broadly shared. He says the global economy needs to work better for all people, not just those at the top.
The top U.S. diplomat has urged Pakistan's prime minister to prevent "all terrorists" from using the nation's territory as safe havens.
The appeal from Secretary of State John Kerry to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came as tensions escalated between Pakistan and India after suspected rebels killed 18 Indian soldiers in an attack on a military base in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The State Department said Tuesday that Kerry met Sharif Monday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Kerry expressed "strong concern" with the recent violence in Kashmir, particularly Sunday's attack, and called on all sides to reduce tensions.
He also urged restraint in nuclear weapons programs.
India on Tuesday accused Pakistan of firing at an Indian military position in Kashmir, which Pakistan denied.
Taking the world stage for the last time as secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon unleashes years of pent-up anger at leaders who keep "feeding the war machine" in Syria, violate human rights and prevent aid deliveries to starving people.
The U.N. chief told leaders at Tuesday's opening of General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting that "powerful patrons" of both sides in the more than five-year Syrian conflict "have blood on their hands"
"Present in this hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syria conflict against Syrian civilians," he said.
Ban said "many groups have killed innocent civilians — none more so than the government of Syria."
And he accused South Sudan's feuding leaders of betraying their people. He said "in too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power."
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli kicks off the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly as world leaders convene to address most pressing global and regional issues.
Bocelli's performance of Nessun Dorma on Monday earned a standing ovation from heads of state.
U.N. officials say at least 20 countries are expected to formally join the Paris Agreement on climate change this week, greatly improving the pact's chances of coming into force just a year after it was negotiated.
That's considered a blistering pace in the world of international diplomacy, reflecting a sense of urgency in the fight against global warming and a desire to seal the deal before the Obama administration leaves office.
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Morocco are expected to hand over documents at the U.N. in New York on Wednesday to formally complete the ratification process. At least half a dozen small island nations including Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Kiribati will also follow suit.
Standing before the United Nations for the last time as president, Barack Obama will reassure foreign leaders that the world is better equipped to tackle its challenges than at almost any point in history despite a cascade of harrowing crises that seem devoid of viable solutions.
Obama's address marks his swan song on the international stage. He stepped into his role eight years ago with sky-high expectations and has struggled to deliver when it comes to solving global problems partially beyond America's control.
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said the president was cognizant of the fact that bright spots such as economic growth and climate change cooperation are offset by the "great deal of unease" in the world, including Syria's civil war and concerns about Russia's aggression toward Ukraine.