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Good morning, UNGA enthusiasts!
Donald Trump’s speech may have stolen all the headlines yesterday, but fear not, today’s got lots going on.
It’s day two of Quartz’s guide to the news and chatter of the 72nd UN general assembly. (In case you missed it, here’s day one, including our essential UNGA survival tips.)
Hurricane Jose has largely kept its distance, so New York City will be cloudy and sticky, with temperatures of up to 82°F (28°C). Ditch the umbrella and take the deodorant; there’s nothing worse than showing up with smelly armpits to your bilateral with Justin Trudeau.
Hassan Rouhani works the room. Iran got a dozen mentions in Trump’s divisive, barnstorming maiden speech to the general assembly yesterday, even more than North Korea. Today the Iranian president takes the podium midway through the morning session. Rouhani is “a well-established star of the [UNGA]; a popular figure who performs well in New York,” UN-watcher Richard Gowan told Quartz’s Max de Haldevang, so listen up for what people are saying afterwards. (And tell me if they say anything interesting.)
Some other charm offensives. Afternoon speeches will include South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, a strong contender for most scandal-ridden president at the UNGA, and Myanmar’s Henry Van Thio, the vice president and hapless stand-in for Aung San Suu Kyi, who yesterday coolly told the world she lacks “solid evidence” of massive human-rights abuses in Rakhine state.
The UN bans nukes. Or tries to. At 8:30am the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be opened for signing. More than 120 countries have already endorsed the treaty; once 50 states ratify it, it becomes international law. Just one small catch: Nuclear-armed states won’t touch it with a 10-foot reactor control rod. So is there any point? Yes, Max explains, in a short history of weapons treaties once considered hopeless.
Jargon interlude #1: Ever wondered about the differences between ratifying, signing, accepting, acceding to, adopting, approving, confirming, definitively signing, and all the other wonderful things you can do with treaties? Don’t worry, the UN is here to explain.
Policing the peacekeepers. At 10am the security council will discuss reform of UN peacekeeping operations—a.k.a., how did the “blue helmets,” entrusted with protecting the world’s most vulnerable people, end up running a Haitian child sex ring and face over 2,000 other alleged cases (!) of sexual abuse since 2005? Secretary general António Guterres has proposed that if countries providing peacekeepers don’t investigate their troops’ abuses (the UN isn’t allowed to), the money to pay them should be withheld and go into a fund for victims instead. Let’s see what the security council says.
Jargon interlude #2: Listen out for the term “SEA,” the UN’s sanitized and cryptic acronym for “sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Fixing the world, one panel discussion at a time. High-powered convos at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum include Mike Bloomberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing civic leadership at 9:05am, followed by the IMF’s Christine Lagarde talking trade with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, the Netherlands’ Mark Rutte, and others; Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Middle Eastern security at 1:15pm; and Bill Gates and several other top CEOs on how technology is disrupting, well, everything, at 3:10pm. (You have to admire the precision of these timings.) We’re disappointed the chat between Henry Kissinger and Sergey Lavrov got canceled, but frankly, the entire program looks fascinating, and if the handwritten invite from Mike Bloomberg got lost in the mail, fear not, there’s a livestream.
There’s a similarly star-studded lineup at Gates’ own event, Goalkeepers, including Trudeau (again), Queen Rania, Malala Yousafzai, rap icon will.i.am, plus some Chicago law professor who used to be president. Again, if you forgot to send Bill your RSVP, it’s all online.
That Trump speech. Here’s the world according to Trump, from Bad to Sad to Greatest. Here are the expressions on the faces of various countries’ delegates as he trashed them. And here’s how his threat to “totally destroy” North Korea was translated into Chinese, in which it sounded even worse.
The new leader of the free world? Emmanuel Macron certainly seemed to be auditioning for the job with a speech that cast him as the anti-Trump in just about every way possible (see chart below). Lucky for him that Angela Merkel had better things to do than come to New York.
Who gets Bill Clinton’s mantle? The aforementioned Gates and Bloomberg events are part of a kind of Cambrian Explosion of do-gooder gatherings that appeared after the Clinton Global Initiative folded up its UNGA hospitality tent last year. Bloomberg may be winning the celebrity stakes, not least because he’s snagged Clinton himself as opening speaker—but as Quartz’s Jason Karaian recently explained, there’s keen competition.
And who gets Bill Gates’ blessing? A generation of people who have led efforts for economic development in poor countries is retiring. Melinda Gates has a plan to build a new one, as she told Quartz’s editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney, with a project aimed at nurturing people who can think big.
The UNGA be-everywhere-at-once prize. This clearly goes to Trudeau, who as well as speaking at Gates and Bloomberg today is somehow finding the time to be at WE Day, a giant jamboree of youth, leaders, and youth leaders in Madison Square Garden.
Play the Quartz Global Power Poll. Who’s the boss of all bosses: Vladimir Putin or Angela Merkel? Donald Trump or Xi Jinping? Justin Trudeau, with his projections of tolerance, or Kim Jong-un, with his powerful projectiles? Rank them in our interactive game and compare your assessment with those of other Quartz readers.
“An attention-deficit-disorder president.”—Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs on Donald Trump
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, tips, unratified treaties, and Trudeau sightings to email@example.com. To get future editions of the Quartz UNGA Daily Brief in your inbox, sign up here.