United Nations General Assembly: what is 2022 UN event, countries - when is Prime Minister Liz Truss speech?

Liz Truss will meet many world leaders for the first time as Prime Minister, having only replaced Boris Johnson at the start of September

With frontline politics having been suspended during the ensuing national period of mourning, the UK’s fourth PM in six years now faces a week that could determine the success or failure of her premiership.

On Wednesday (21 September) her Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg outlined an energy bills support package for businesses. On Thursday (22 September), Health Secretary Therese Coffey will announce how the NHS will seek to cope with the upcoming winter.

The UN General Assembly takes place in New York every year (image: AFP/Getty Images)

But perhaps the biggest event will come on Friday (23 September) when Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng will reveal how all of the measures set out since the new government formed will be paid for in a mini budget.

While Liz Truss has a make-or-break week on the domestic front, she is also going to come under major international scrutiny at the United Nations General Assembly.

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But what is this event - and what will Liz Truss do at the New York international conference?

What is the UN General Assembly?

The UN General Assembly is the globe’s biggest annual meeting of world leaders. It decides the policy objectives of the United Nations and sees countries discuss how best to deal with global challenges, like climate change, war and famine.

All 193 member states have an equal vote on appointing the secretary-general of the organisation, electing non-permanent members of the influential security council, and approving the UN’s budget for the coming year.

The UN General Assembly Hall hosts all 193 member states (image: AFP/Getty Images)

This year’s edition of the event is the 77th General Assembly session and is the first in three years to be held in person after the Covid-19 pandemic. On 15 September, one of the meetings paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her passing.

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While the cavernous General Assembly Hall is at the heart of proceedings, the most important action tends to happen on the sidelines. World leaders often use the occasion to hold face-to-face meetings with their foreign counterparts.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II (image: AFP/Getty Images)

For example, new UK PM Liz Truss is set to spend much of her time in New York meeting with key EU leaders Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen to try to resolve problems she has with the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol.

She is also set to meet US President Joe Biden after their meeting on the fringes of the Queen’s state funeral was postponed. It is understood Ms Truss will not be granted a visit to the White House after the General Assembly like the one Boris Johnson enjoyed in 2019.

When will Liz Truss give speech?

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A major part of the UN General Assembly involves world leaders from almost all of the organisation’s member nations giving speeches to their foreign counterparts. Each speech is meant to last for a maximum of 15-minutes.

For the leaders of the world’s biggest economies, it is a chance to exert soft power and appeal to their domestic vote. Leaders from smaller nations use their speeches as an opportunity to raise awareness of issues that larger countries might ignore or not be aware of.

Then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused a major diplomatic incident during his 2011 UN General Assembly speech (image: Getty Images)

Over the years, some speeches have proved to be highly controversial. For example, at the 2011 edition of the General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked walkouts by some delegations by launching a blistering assault on the west and Israel.

Liz Truss is due to address the General Assembly after 3pm EST (7pm BST) on Wednesday (21 September). It could happen as late as 2am UK time.

What is Liz Truss speech likely to include?

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It is understood Liz Truss will centre her speech on a call for international cooperation, and will tell the UN that the UK under her premiership will be “an active defender of our democratic values”. She is also expected to tell world leaders that she will continue the UK’s support for Ukraine and will work to counter authoritarian regimes.

The new PM will also outline her plans for the UK economy, which will see her try to sell a policy of ‘trickle down economics’ to the world. This term means she expects the country to share in the prosperity generated by economic growth.

“We want people to keep more of the money they earn, because we believe that freedom trumps instruction,” Ms Truss is expected to say.

“We are reforming our economy to get Britain moving forward once again. The free world needs this economic strength and resilience to push back against authoritarian aggression and win this new era of strategic competition.”

Liz Truss has gone from doing a reading at the Queen’s state funeral to giving a speech at the UN General Assembly (image: Getty Images)

In a reference directly aimed at Russia, she will say: “We will no longer be strategically dependent on those who seek to weaponise the global economy.”

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There has already been some embarrassment for Ms Truss at the UN when it comes to her economic ideas. US President Joe Biden rejected the idea of trickle down economics in a Tweet believed to be aimed at the US public rather than the UK’s PM.

It all comes after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned the world is in “great peril” in a speech that opened the New York event. Major concerns Mr Guterres highlighted included: the war in Ukraine, climate change and the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.