Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka at the 74th UN General Assembly

Foreign leaders from countries across the world have arrived in New York for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which began on September 17 and will continue through September 30. The high-level General Debate begins today, September 24. This article attempts to summarize what Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka have planned on their agenda for this year’s UNGA.

Highlights of the UNGA this year include a Climate Action Summit and a High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage on September 23, a Sustainable Development Goals Summit from September 24-25, a High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development and a High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26, and a High-Level Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway on September 27. 

Ongoing coverage of the General Debate of the 74th Session can be accessed here.

Bangladesh’s Priorities at the United Nations General Assembly

Bangladesh has planned a packed agenda for this year’s UN General Assembly. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in New York on Monday, where she was greeted by Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United States, Mohammad Ziauddin, and Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Masud Bin Momen. Later in the day, she co-chaired the Multi-Stakeholder Panel with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as part of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. 

Prime Minister Hasina is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, September 24. Later in the day, she also plans to meet with Queen Maxima, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and attend an event hosted by President Trump entitled “Leadership Matters - Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the Contemporary World.”

The same day, PM Hasina is expected to participate in a High-level event on the sidelines with the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the current status of the Rohingya. The foreign ministers of Bangladesh and Myanmar are also planning to hold a meeting on the sidelines at some point to discuss the Rohingya situation, which will be mediated by China. 

On September 25, PM Hasina will help lead a discussion on the topic of “Localizing the SDGs” and meet with the former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, who now serves as the chairman for the organization Sanitation and Water for All. 

On September 26, PM Hasina plans to hold separate meetings with Alex V. Volkov, chairman of Exxon-Mobil, Irinia Bokova, the former director of UNESCO, and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

On September 27, Prime Minister Hasina will deliver a statement for Bangladesh at the General Debate and attend a High-level event on the sidelines to discuss how health coverage can be more inclusive of people with disabilities and mental health challenges. Prime Minister Hasina also plans to meet with UN Secretary General António Guterres on September 28 before leaving back to Bangladesh the next day. 

Finally, it is expected that PM Sheikh Hasina will receive two awards while at the UN General Assembly this year: a “Vaccine Hero” award from the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization for her dedication to carrying out vaccination programs in Bangladesh and a “Champion of Skill Development for Youth” award from UNICEF for her strong commitment to the advancement of Bangladeshi youth.

Maldives’ Priorities at the United Nations General Assembly

This year, Maldives President Ibrahim Solih will address the UN General Assembly -- the first time in seven years that a Maldivian president has delivered an address to the body. President Solih hopes to strengthen the Maldives’ bilateral and multilateral relationships with other countries around the world through his participation in UNGA this year. 

Last week, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Maldives, Abdulla Shahid, condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel would annex parts of Israeli-occupied Palestine if he was reelected. Mr. Shahid announced that the Maldives plans to vote in support of Palestine at this year’s UN General Assembly. The small island country has been a strong supporter of Palestine over the years, and also expressed dismay when the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May last year. 

Sri Lanka’s Priorities at the United Nations General Assembly

Earlier this month on September 14, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Kshenuka Senewiratne, spoke at a UN forum to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the General Assembly’s decision to adopt the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. In her speech, Senewiratne expressed the importance of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Sri Lanka is scheduled to deliver a statement at the General Debate on September 25. Otherwise, there appears to not be much news on what Sri Lanka has planned on its agenda for the General Assembly this year.