UN General Assembly meets for second day as leaders discuss climate change, economy and Ukraine

The United Nations General Assembly met for a second day Wednesday in New York City to speak about pressing issues facing the world

UN General Assembly meets for second day as leaders discuss climate change, economy and Ukraine

The second day of the United Nations General Assembly meeting kicked off in New York City on Wednesday, with leaders from countries all over the world speaking about pressing issues, such as climate change and global conflict. 

Here are some highlights of the leaders who spoke on Day 2:

Wavel Ramkalawan, president of the Republic of Seychelles, Africa's smallest nation, said climate change remains an uphill battle that has taken its toll on the planet.

"If we are to make progress on our development agenda, we can no longer call what we are facing, climate change," he said. "The point at which lives, and livelihoods are lost with frightening frequency due to environmental disasters means that we are living through a climate crisis. Addressing the climate crisis is no longer optional. It is an immediate necessity."

Paul Kagama, president of Rwanda, said world conflicts between nations and various groups have to end. 

"We must also cool down on conflict. Today, there is no sign of ongoing conflicts ending anytime soon. We do not even see hope from those with the most influence, that an end is in sight. Innocent lives are left alone to carry the burden of this instability, that is a profound injustice," he said. "The migration crisis is a case in point. 

"Every year, migrants and refugees undertake dangerous journeys in search of a better future. Rwanda remains committed to working with partners, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to contribute to a durable solution," he added. "This decision is informed by our experience and knowing first-hand the pain of losing everything and not having a place to call home."

Nikos Christodoulides, the country's president, condemned breaches of international peace and security and called out Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Working towards peace in Cyprus is my absolute priority, and I want to take this opportunity to also send a personal message to President Erdogan. There is not, and never will be, another basis for settlement of the Cyprus question to that dictated by the United Nations Security Council resolutions."

President Hage Geingob spoke of rebuilding trust and the wealth gap. 

"We are duty-bound to create an environment where prosperity is shared and inclusive," he said. 

Romania President Klaus Iohannis spoke of Russia's war in Ukraine, saying that Moscow's "aggression" necessitates the need for more attention to the Black Sea, a vital body of water in the region. 

"Romania is a direct neighbor to the continued war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and we acted with all our energy to bring a solid contribution to regional and international security and stability," he said. 


Zeljko Komšić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, raised concerns about economic migration and tensions with its neighbors. 

"It is completely clear that there is such a form of migration in which large groups of people are trying to escape war and horrors of war," he said. "But there is also what we call economic migration through which migrants are being directed based on their potential and capacity. 

He also spoke about what he called "aggressor states" who want to control and divide his country. 

"Our two neighbors through the ethnic communities in Bosnia Herzegovina, to which they are -as they strive to claim every right, even 27 years after the aggression they had carried out over Bosnia and Herzegovina, are in this manner making an attack on the sovereignty of our country, which makes it almost completely impossible to have any democratic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo sounded off on the state of the world as disasters, erosion of democracy, declining trust among nations and conflicts continue to rage in parts of the globe. 

"Our world is not a happy place today," he said. 

Tensions over trade, climate, borders and the peddling of "blatant untruths" have become acceptable, he said. 

"We cannot continue to preach democracy, equality and good governance around the globe. We cannot insist on peace and justice in the world when our global organization is seen by the majority of its members and the people of the world as hampered by an unjust and unfair structure," Addo said. 

He added that the U.N. seems uninterested in intervening in Ukraine. 

In his remarks, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said Russia has brought back "an old-style colonial war" to Europe and that Moscow was prepared to take it even further. 

"Russia is currently holding the world hostage, blocking Ukrainian grain exports, looting occupied Ukrainian territories, and devastating local agricultural infrastructure," Nausėda said.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said his nation has made great strides in its biodiversity efforts to transition to a low-emissions circular economy and the protection of the Galapagos Islands.

"My government has been able to balance environmental aspirations with good economic sense," Lasso said. 

Ecuador is also focused on improving the quality of life for its most disadvantaged citizens, particularly children, he said. These efforts include reducing malnutrition and providing better and more accessible medical care to pregnant women and children. 

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová called out Russia's "illegal, full-scale invasion" of Ukraine, its neighbor. 

For more than 570 days, Russia's forces have been killing innocent Ukrainian civilians, kidnapping children, and destroying towns and cities," she said.

She said the war in Ukraine and climate change have one thing in common. 

"They are human-made. And it falls to us to deliver human-made solutions," she said. "The time for talking, discussions and promises is over."


Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname, said not much has changed for the better since he made his first speech to the general assembly. 

"We make promises that are not often kept," he said. "We express noble goals but the delivery is poor. Business as usual cannot be our mantra." 

He added that humans are responsible for the world's ills and must do better. 

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto appealed to world leaders to stand with Ukraine. 

"Russia's aggression is a direct violation of the United Nations Charter, to which we are all committed by aiding Ukraine," he said.

President Rumen Radevn said restoring peace and security is one of the world's most important issues. He singled out Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

"It exacerbated all these crises of various kinds and destroyed not only thousands of human lives but also the optimism that we are able to build back better," he said. 

"The systematic erosion of democracy and human rights and the race of authoritarianism are completing the picture," he added. 

Mohamed Irfaan Ali said multilateralism remains the most effective approach to combat several challenges, notably climate change. 

"It is well established that those bearing the brunt of the climate phenomenon have made no contribution to the current crisis," he said. "Small islands developing and low-lying coastal states like Guyana are among the hardest hit and require adequate financing."

President Zoran Milanovic compared the relationship between sustainable development with peace and security in an ever-increasingly smaller world. 

"At a midpoint in the implementation of the 2030 agenda, the assessments of the global sustainable development progress report showed that the efforts to achieve that synergy so far have proved insufficient," he said. 

President Joao Lourenco, president of the Republica of Angola, spoke of greater investment into the African continent. 

"International partners of Africa must believe and invest in our market because surely they are going to have a satisfactory return on their investments in the different sectors of our economies," he said. 

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics said his country will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. He noted that its assistance to Ukraine has already exceeded 1.3% of Latvia's GDP. 

"Russia must bear full legal and financial responsibility for its aggression," he said. "We must ensure complete accountability for all crimes committed in Ukraine. It means the responsibility of Russia as a state for violations of international law."

South Korea spoke of the relationship between Russia and North Korea, saying its neighbor to the north poses a threat to Ukraine and South Korea alike. 

"If the DPRK acquires the information and technology necessary to enhance its WMD capabilities in exchange for supporting Russia with conventional weapons, the deal will be a direct provocation threatening the peace and security of not only Ukraine but also the Republic of Korea," President Yoon Suk Yeo said.

"It is paradoxical that a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, entrusted as the ultimate guardian of world peace, would wage war by invading another sovereign nation and receive arms and ammunition from a regime that blatantly violates Security Council resolutions," Yoon told fellow leaders. 

He was talking about Ukraine, which is fighting a war against the 2022 Russian invasion of its territory.

Like many leaders, Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, said climate change poses an urgent challenge to humanity. 

"The world is not on track to meet most of the sustainable goals," he said. 

Rahmon said many developing countries are bearing the brunt of the harmful impact of climate change. 

President Xiomara Castro spoke of her own country's corruption that aims to dismantle structural changes she said her administration has implemented. 

"These assailants who hijacked the state are today conspiring against my government," Castro said. "The Honduran people in its noble aspiration for justice have given me a robust mandate to combat and dismantle the narcostate and the public-private corruption that plundered and destroyed our institutions that corrupted popular will."

She noted that systemic corruption had once led to "state terrorism" via death squads. 

President Alar Karis called for a reform to the U.N. Security Council, saying the body was unable to make decisions regarding the world's biggest conflicts in Europe. He went so far as to call the council "paralyzed."

"It has numerous negative implications globally, be it inability to offer conflict resolution or solutions concerning migration and food security," he said. "This dangerous tendency doesn't have its foundation in Russian aggression against Ukraine, but it has crystallized because of that."

"The world needs a Security Council that is able to fulfill its tasks and live up to the expectations of its founding members," he added. "But even more so, to give hope for better days to those suffering under fear, oppression and violence."

On Russia, its neighbor, Karis said Moscow has "imperial and neocolonial aspirations."

"Russia wants to destroy Ukraine, occupy it and drain its resources to feed the ideology about its greatness," he said. 

An internationally-backed security mission should be present in Haiti, Dominican President Luis Abinader told the General Assembly. The two nations share an island, Hispaniola. While his nation has prioritized conservation, Haiti still lags in its environmental efforts given its political instability and insecurity. 

"Haiti today is not only suffering from an environmental tragedy but also from political and social instability that may become a threat to the entire region," Abinader said. 

In recent years, the Dominican Republic has seen Haitian migrants attempting to enter the country with more regularity. Abinader stressed the need for a U.N.-backed force in Haiti, from where some of the country's problems have spilled into his nation's borders. 

"What is happening in Haiti is a breakdown of public order by criminal elements, without any political or ideological claim," he said. "So, to accept the Haitian authorities' request for help by sending a multinational force is in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Charter and the mandate of this organization in accordance with international law, to guarantee peace."

President Maia Sandu accused Russia of trying to destabilize her nation but that Moldova was countering the "hybrid assault." 

"Their hybrid toolbox includes energy blackmail, support for separatism, sponsoring mass anti-government protests, cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns," she said. "They also tried to overthrow our democratically elected government. But each time, they have failed."

She also asked for help in Moldova's bid to join the European Union. 

"The enlargement of the EU is the sole path to ensure our neighborhood stays anchored in the free world … I extend this goal beyond the EU borders, to all the countries of the free world," Sandu said. "When one (democracy) thrives, it inspires hope in others. When one falters, it risks a domino effect. Today, the fight for democracy anywhere is the fight for democracy everywhere."

Moscow continues to agitate its neighbors as it wages war with Ukraine. In her remarks, Sandu called for the withdrawal of Russian troops in the breakaway Transnistrian region.

"The success or downfall of one democracy resonates globally," she said. "When one thrives, it inspires hope in others; when one falters, it risks a domino effect. Today, the fight for democracy anywhere is a fight for democracy everywhere."

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio credited his West African nation with making strides in the observance of human rights, particularly sexual violence against women and children. 

"We must resolve to leave no one behind," Bio said. We must fervently champion inclusivity, recognizing the intrinsic value of every individual irrespective of their circumstances."

 Prince Albert of Monaco focused his remarks on climate change.

"There's not a moment to lose," he told the General Assembly. "Extreme climate events, floods, droughts, fires, whose frequency and intensity is only growing, have already resulted in the suffering of millions of people."

Chilean President Gabriel Boric stressed the need for nations to advance democracy, citing his own country's military dictatorship following the 1973 coup against democratically-elected President Salvador Allende. 

He further called on the United States to lift sanctions on Venezuela, which harms Venezuelans not the government, and Cuba, he said. 

"Declaring that Cuba is a country which promotes terrorism is not just false, it is violent. It is brutal," Boric said. 

The rapid advancement of global technologies has unlocked global development but also jeopardizes world peace, such as enabling terrorist and criminal groups, Mongolian President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa said. 

President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania said his administration has made some progress in fighting poverty and improving the lives of his citizens. 

"We undertook structural reforms," he said. "We also strengthened the economic governance, financial governance, monetary governance."

The reforms have led to increases in access to electricity, medical care and other basic needs, the president said. 

President George Weah the world faces a number of challenges, including suspicious actions by non-state actors, insecurity and structural impediments to economic growth.

"The slowdown in economic growth continues to be a challenge, Weah said.

Liberia is focused on infrastructure development, including building roads, and reaching sustainable development goals, he said.

President Felix Tshisekedi said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened poverty and displacement of people around the world. 

To combat the impacts, nations must pool their resources and energy, the African leader said. 

"Accomplishing this requires more determination and commitment from everyone," Tshisekedi said.

He also urged the U.N. to expand the number of seats in the Security Council to Africa. 

"African peoples do not often don't understand the equivocal attitude, the double standards at work, the ambiguities and procrastination of our organization, especially of its Security Council in certain political and security crises which are rampaging through Africa and sometimes have rampaged there for decades," Tshisekedi said. "This is the case notably of the forgotten crisis of Western Sahara, which has riven apart two kindred countries, Algeria and the Kingdom of Morocco. And that crisis has dragged on for several decades. This is also the case when it comes to Mozambique."

King Mswati III called for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and democratic governance. The southern African nation was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and still faces high unemployment.

While at the General Assembly, Mswati said his nation was committed to fighting deadly diseases and providing access to healthcare for his citizens. 

"To save lives & advance the end of HIV & ensure that no one is left behind, I pledge that my Government will continue to upscale HIV & other public health services, ensure that all Swati have equal access to these & continue to target the hard-to-reach populations," he said in a statement. 

Marshall Islands President David Kabua urged the U.N. to address the world's economic and climate challenges.

"We are falling well short of what the world needs and deserves," he said. 

Technological advances have been unrivaled but the threat of wider conflict still persists, he said, citing Russia's "illegal and immoral" invasion of Ukraine. 

Given the pandemic impacted nations in different ways, President Mokgweetsi Masisi called for more investment in research and establishing financial mechanisms to fight global diseases. 

"It is essential that we establish robust systems that leave no room for the repetition of such calamity and ensuring the survival and well-being of our people," Masisi said. 


Italy's President, Giorgia Meloni, spoke about her country's migrant arrivals, many of whom come from Africa. In her remarks, she said the mass migration has propped up criminal gangs that charged large sums and often don't care about the migrants they transport. 

"In this chaos that produces tens of millions of people potentially in search of better living conditions are infiltrated criminal networks that profit from desperation to collect easy billions," she said. "They are the traffickers of human beings."

She said many migrants die trying to get across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy's shores. 

"Can we really not pretend to not see that no other criminal activity in the world today is more lucrative than the trafficking of migrants?"

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez touted his nation's collaboration with Latin American countries to achieve peace and democratic norms. 

"Peace is the essential pre-requisite for the economic development and the expansion of human rights," Sanchez said. 

The island state is faced with challenges posed by climate change, said Prime Minister Patrice Emery Trovoada. He said the small island nation is "one of the main victims" of climate change. 

"My country is experiencing a situation of real economic financial and urgency in the short-term, well known to our financial partners," Trovoad said. 

Small gains in fighting climate change have been made but factors like a lack of confidence in democratic institutions across the globe have made it difficult, the president said. 

"Inequality, lack of respect and lack of inclusion can only lead to even greater fractures and setbacks," Trovoada said. 

Prime Minister Alexander de Croo advocated for speeding up the transition to green energy. 

"It is vital to win the fight against climate change since it is the single biggest disruptor of our societies today," de Coo said. 

He noted that climate change caused young populations to flee their home countries, increasing migration flows and depriving some nations of important economic resources. 

"Their most vital potential: young people," he said. "At the same time, the host countries in Europe are faced with an influx and they can barely handle it."

The Middle Eastern nation faces an exodus of its intellectuals and youth, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said. In addition, the Syrian civil war next door has placed a burden on his nation, "threatening Lebanon's very existence," much of it caused by the displacement of Syrians, he said. 

"The international community's response to this humanitarian tragedy is still timid and falls short of an effective, sustainable solution," Mikati said. 

He urged U.N. member states to find a solution to the Syrian displacement crisis before it escalates. 

Fathallah al-Zani, Libya’s youth minister and temporary foreign minister, told the General Assembly that his country was "weighed down with sadness." Floods have killed thousands in Libya’s northeast in the past 10 days, and survivors have been plagued by water contamination and the lack of sanitation.

"I call on the world to live up to its responsibility to Libya in order to help cope with the aftermath of the disaster," the minister said.

He also said Libyans have set aside political differences in a "spirit of unity and solidarity" in response to the problems.

"This is the lesson that we need to pass on to our children," he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.