Growing global perils as Biden returns to UN

President Joe Biden addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. [AP photo]

President Joe Biden is confronting no shortage of difficult issues as he travels to New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

The Russian war in Ukraine is at a critical juncture. European fears that a recession could be just around the corner are heightened.

Administration concerns grow by the day that time is running short to revive the Iran nuclear deal and over China's sabre-rattling on Taiwan.

When he addressed last year’s General Assembly, Biden focused on broad themes of global partnership, urging world leaders to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses.

And he offered assurances that his presidency marked a return of American leadership to international institutions following Donald Trump’s “America First”-driven foreign policy.

But one year later, global dynamics have dramatically changed.

Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Programme at the Washington think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an analysis that Biden’s task this year is “immense” compared to his first address to the UN as president.

“Last year, the US leader won easy plaudits as the ‘anti-Trump,’ pledging that ‘America was back,’” Patrick said.

“This year demands more. The liberal, rules-based international system is reeling, battered by Russian aggression, Chinese ambitions, authoritarian assaults, a halting pandemic recovery, quickening climate change, skepticism of the UN’s relevance, and gnawing doubts about American staying power.”

In a tightly packed visit to New York for the 77th General Assembly, Biden is set to address world leaders and prod allies to do their part to help the UN meet an $18 billion (Sh2.1 trillion) target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. 

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