ungeneralassembly(by David Jackson, USA Today) – Many of the world’s problems – and President Obama’s plans to deal with them – come together this week in one place: The United Nations.

In addition to his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama will also attend special U.N. meetings on challenges that are defining his presidency, Ebola, climate change [formerly known as global warming], and the battle against the Islamic State [also known as ISIS or ISIL].

The president and aides are also likely to speak with global counterparts about other pressing challenges, including Russian [intervention] in Ukraine and violence between Israelis and the Palestinians.

It will be “another intense foreign policy and national security week,” Obama national security adviser Susan Rice said.

Obama also speaks at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, hosted by White House predecessor Bill Clinton. Attending that forum: former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential presidential candidate herself in 2016. …

United Nations week begins for President Obama on Tuesday (Sept. 23), when he flies to New York for a session on climate change [global warming]. The president will discuss his own “climate action plan,” Rice said, and urge other countries to follow through.

The climate meeting, however, will not include China and India, two large and developing nations with major carbon emission issues.

The Clinton Global Initiative comes later in the day on Tuesday. Obama’s focus will be on public-private partnerships designed to strengthen civil society worldwide.

The president’s annual address to the U.N. General Assembly is Wednesday morning, and Obama is expected to address the full array of global challenges.

Later that day, Obama chairs a special session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss efforts to roll back the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria.

Obama unveiled a U.S. counterterrorism plan earlier this month. In New York, he and aides will likely talk to other countries about contributing to the fight against the Islamic terrorists who have threatened the United States and allies.

The last day, Thursday, brings a special U.N. meeting on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Obama is expected to discuss the new U.S. plan to help contain the deadly virus, an effort to be led by the American military. [Interesting to consider: the U.N. is supposed to be the world body to deal with such a crisis: but despite the fact that we pay billions to the UN general budget and $100 million a year to the UN’s World Health Organization, it is America alone that is sending the greatest amount of help to West Africa.)

While in New York, Obama will also hold bilateral meetings with other national leaders attending U.N. sessions.

One leader not expected to be on that list: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose nation is in the midst of talks about its nuclear program. While Obama and Rouhani spoke by phone last year, they are not expected to follow up at the U.N.

The bilateral schedule “is still under development,” Earnest said.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from USA Today. Visit the website at usatoday .com.


1. a) On what day will President Obama give his annual address to the 2014 U.N. General Assembly meeting?
b) What topics is President Obama expected to cover during his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly?
c) List the President’s schedule for the U.N. General Assembly this week.

2. In addition to his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly, what world issues will the President likely discuss/address with the representatives of other U.N. member states?

a) What is significant about the attendees at President Obama’s meeting on global warming?
b) Why do you think these two countries will not attend?

4. a) What is the U.N. Security Council? How many members does it have? Who are they?
b) President Obama will chair a special session of the U.N. Security Council this week. What is the focus of this meeting?

5. What outcome do you think President Obama is aiming to achieve regarding the most important issue to most Americans: the Islamic State terrorists?

6. The U.K. Guardian reported on Sept. 21:

Barack Obama is to press the UN security council to pass a sweeping new resolution that would impose global travel bans on fighters intent on enlisting in overseas wars, and could lead to sanctions on countries that fail or refuse to implement the new regime.

US officials say the UN resolution, which will be personally pushed by Obama when he chairs a meeting of the security council on Wednesday, is supported by sufficient countries to pass a vote this week.

But the diplomatic move will raise questions about UN intervention in the democratic processes of its member states. If passed, the resolution would require UN member states to implement and update their own national laws to tackle the flow of foreign fighters, including withholding travel documents and sharing airline information.

Other measures expected to be contained within the resolution include the UN freezing assets of “foreign terrorist fighters” by placing them on sanctions lists; Interpol coordinating efforts to monitor the transit of fighters across several countries; and a call for the international community to implement preventative programmes to deal with radicalisation of their populations.

“As the president has made clear, every country can contribute something to this effort,” said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN. “And there’s universal support, I think, for degrading and destroying this group.”

The US is building a coalition of allies to take on ISIS in the hope that a combination of air strikes, intelligence sharing, financial freezes and a travel crackdown will obviate the need for boots on the ground to fight the militants.

a) Do you think this plan will succeed in “obviating the need for boots on the ground to fight the militants”? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.


According to WorldAtlas .com, there are 193 independent countries in the world today.
192 countries are UN members. The exceptions are Taiwan (in 1971, the UN ousted Taiwan and replaced it with the People’s Republic of China) and Vatican City. Kosovo is not yet a member (it is not recognized as an independent country by all).
Each country gets one vote in the UN General Assembly.
The U.S. pays at least 22% of the overall yearly budget of the UN. In 2013 our contribution was $618,481,182.
(from http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=ST/ADM/SER.B/866)

ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: (read more at the website un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_background.html)

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
  • There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten elected members with two-year terms [these are not eligible for immediate re-election]
  • The ten elected members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on January 1st, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African bloc chooses three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asian, and Western European and Others blocs choose two members each; and the Eastern European bloc chooses one member. Also, one of these members is an “Arab country,” alternately from the Asian or African bloc.
  • Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.
  • Each Council member has one vote.
  • Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members.
  • Decisions on substantive matters (including imposing sanctions on a country) require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.
  • Under the UN Charter, all 191 Member States (countries) of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.  While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to make decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.


Visit the U.N. General Assembly webpage at: un.org/en/ga

Watch President Obama’s 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly live at approximately 10 am (Eastern) at: webtv.un.org (or visit c-span.org or whitehouse.gov)

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