Opening of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly

The EU is hosting a number of flagship events in the margins of the General Assembly and EU representatives have a full agenda of high-level debates 

President Jean-Claude Juncker, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will together with European Council President Donald Tusk attend today the opening of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York. In the side-lines, President Juncker, accompanied by Commissioner Hahn, will also hold a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze.

Yesterday, President Juncker – at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the United Nations Headquarters – paid tribute to Madiba and highlighted the importance of a true partnership with Africa, as outlined also during his 2018 State of the Union speech.

President Juncker said: “Mandela venait d’un continent cousin, un continent jeune, noble et prometteur d’avenir. Cette Afrique avec laquelle l’Europe est liée par une communauté de destin. Ce continent voisin avec lequel nous voulons tisser des liens toujours plus étroits. Parce qu’une alliance entre nos deux continents, une alliance entre égaux, est la seule voie possible.”

The Summit was called on the occasion of the centenary of Mandela’s birth to reflect on the global peace, with political leaders committing to redouble the efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world. 

In the afternoon, in one of this year’s EU flagship events, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will host the event ‘Fighting Plastic Pollution: A Global Race to the Top’ with the UN Environment Programme. The event is part of the Commission’s commitment to multilateralism and to the Sustainable Development Goals, and contributes to the implementation of the international dimension of the EU Plastics Strategy.

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will convene for the second time the Global Tech Panel, bringing together global leaders from the private sector and civil society to foster new types of cooperation between diplomacy and technology.

Yesterday, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini chaired a Ministerial Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and the Russian Federation, as well as Iran in New York, on the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal. The participants reconfirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Iran nuclear deal in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere. During their meeting, the participants considered ways forward to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA in all its aspects. They also took stock of the process of putting in place practical solutions for issues arising from the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement and the re-imposition of sanctions lifted under the JCPOA. 

It was in this context that the HR/VP Mogherini announced preparatory work on a so-called “Special Purpose Vehicle” – meaning EU Member States working together to set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran related to its exports (including oil) and imports. This would facilitate continuing business of European companies with Iran, in accordance with European Union law. This work would complement the update of the EU’s “Blocking Statute” which entered into force on 7 August, with view to protecting the interest of EU companies that want to keep doing legitimate business with and in Iran.

Also yesterday, the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade – at the ministerial meeting in New York, co-chaired by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström – agreed to step up the pace of its efforts and work towards a United Nations instrument, such as a binding convention, to stop the trade in instruments for torture and the death penalty.

The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade is an initiative of the European Union, Argentina and Mongolia. In a further boost to its work, the Alliance also saw a further five countries joining, bringing the total to more than 60. “Systematic use of torture is a crime against humanity,” said Commissioner Malmström. “We demonstrate our commitment to human rights and taking concrete steps to eradicating torture and capital punishment,” she added

Vice-President Dombrovskis will address today a World Economic Forum Summit on Sustainable Development to speak on mobilising capital markets towards ecological resilience. Commissioner Johannes Hahn will meet with Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkans to discuss next steps on regional integration.

Commissioner Mimica will participate at an event by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on ‘Breaking the cycle between conflict and hunger – working toward Sustainable Peace’. Commissioner Stylianides will discuss gender-responsive Humanitarian Action in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis and address an event on delivering assistance in South Sudan. Commissioner Andriukaitis will have a number of events dedicated to health and will deliver a speech on Circulatory Health at the Harvard Club. 

Yesterday, the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade – at the ministerial meeting in New York, co-chaired by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström – agreed to step up the pace of its efforts and work towards a United Nations instrument, such as a binding convention, to stop the trade in instruments for torture and the death penalty.