UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- While the UN General Assembly (GA) officially opened its 67th session last Tuesday, its annual General Debate, where global leaders and high-ranking officials make statements, begins next Tuesday, providing member states with an opportunity to voice concerns on major international issues.
With most of the 193 members of the United Nations expected to speak, the debate is scheduled to wind up on Oct. 1. There will be only a half-day session next Saturday and no meeting on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Key issues on the official agenda for the annual debate include the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change and sustainable development, food security, the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of conflicts, disarmament and UN reform.
Reform topics are expected to cover the 15-member Security Council, revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, and the UN's role in global governance.
UNGA President Vuk Jeremic, who assumed office on Tuesday, said that after "widely consulting" with member states, he found the " overarching theme" of this year would be "bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situation by peaceful means."
The 37-year-old GA president, in his opening remarks, said that the 67th session gets underway "amidst upheavals of unprecedented scope."
"The resulting high level of geopolitical volatility will probably remain with us for quite some time," added Jeremic, the former Serbian foreign minister. "This will surely make it much more complicated to carry out our duties."
"One simply cannot imagine a world in which peace and the dignity of all could flourish without the United Nations," he stressed.
According to UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, issues that he and many other global leaders will bear in mind while joining this year's GA debate include the deteriorating situation in Syria, the emergency in the Sahel region, progress in Somalia, transitions in Myanmar and Yemen, instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and relations between Sudan and South Sudan.
Ban said he would also discuss with world leaders "the threat of nuclear terrorism" and "press for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty."
The UN reform is a perennial topic for the annual GA debate, but overhauling the world body, especially its 15-member Security Council, could be an extremely tough task.
The five permanent members of the Security Council are known to be reluctant to give up their veto power or extend it to any possible additional permanent members. The question of which country might be among the future additional members itself is also particularly thorny.
And any major change to the UN Charter would require not only approval of the GA, but also the Security Council and its veto- wielding permanent members.