European Union External Action

EU@UNGA: Leading on world cooperation to tackle global challenges

20/09/2019 - 11:34
News stories

Every year in September, the world leaders gather in New York to take part in the General Debate that marks the opening of the latest session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) during a week traditionally filled with high level events, summits, and intense diplomatic activities.

Opening of Seventy-fourth Session of General Assembly

In times of global fragmentation and polarization, the European Union steps into the 74th United Nations General Assembly, taking place in New York between 17-30 September, with clear priorities to reaffirm its profound commitment to effective multilateralism. Adopted by 28 EU Foreign Ministers, the priorities are: strengthening conflict prevention, peace and security partnerships, advancing a common positive agenda on human rights, climate change and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and promoting further engagement on global challenges such as migration, digitalisation and counter-terrorism

EU senior leaders will represent the EU at high-level political events that will address the most pressing issues of our time – peace and democracy, climate, development and human rights.  Their key message is: only by working together, we can achieve sustainable results on common global challenges.

Besides the high-profile political events and bilateral meetings, this year’s UNGA week will feature several EU flagship initiatives such as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on eradicating sexual and gender based violence (with focus on Africa), the Good Human Rights Stories initiative and a joint EU-UNICEF campaign #TheRealChallenge that will mark the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What’s in for UNGA 2019? EU highlights at the heart of the multilateral system

The EU agenda at UNGA 2019 will kick off on Sunday with First Vice President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini meeting the UN Secretary General António Guterres to reaffirm the strategic EU-UN partnership.  

On 23 September, Federica Mogherini together with the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore will launch a joint global campaign #TheRealChallenge, which plans to engage children via social media platforms to share the message around their rights. Throughout the day, the HR/VP will also attend a meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela. 

First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Cañete will join the President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the opening of the EU Climate Summit, the event that will attract most of Monday’s attention, to follow up the EU’s commitments made under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

On Tuesday, 24 September, First Vice-President Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will join the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, for the official opening of the General Debate of the 74th UN General Assembly

On Tuesday, the EU will also host the sixth high-level event on the Syria crisis, chaired by HR/VP Mogherini and Commissioner Christos Stylianides, reaffirming EU and international support to a political solution to the Syria conflict and address the humanitarian and resilience needs of those affected by the crisis inside Syria and across the region.


Federica Mogherini at the launch of the 'Good Human Rights Stories' initiative, in September 2018

Federica Mogherini at the launch of the 'Good Human Rights Stories' initiative, in September 2018.

At the first UN summit on the Sustainable Developments Goals, First Vice-President Timmermans, together with Commissioner Mimica, will represent the EU. The Summit will be an opportunity  to assess the progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

The second edition of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative, aimed at highlighting positive narratives of how human rights are promoted and protected worldwide, will be launched on 26 September. This year's focus is on building quality lives through economic, social and cultural rights. The event will be hosted by Federica Mogherini, together with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore. Mogherini, together with Commissioner Mimica, will also attend the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, to discuss progress and perspectives for eradicating sexual and gender based violence in African countries.

How does the #EUintheWorld support multilateralism? Some facts and figures

The #EUintheWorld is working: 

to fulfil the Paris Agreement on climate change: through the Global Climate Change Alliance+, the EU has contributed close to €450 million to help the most vulnerable countries address climate change 

to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the EU and its Member States are the leading donors of development assistance worldwide, providing almost €75 billion in 2018

to protect and promote human rights: the EU is the biggest global supporter of local civil society organisations, providing €2 billion each year

to harness new technologies: through Horizon 2020, the EU is investing €77 billion in new, innovative and smart technology between 2014 and 2020

to fight diseases: the EU's support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has helped save 27 million lives 

to save lives: the EU set aside €1.6 billion in 2019 to deliver humanitarian aid to victims of man-made and natural disasters


It takes the #EUintheWorld: 

to protect the environment – through Natura 2000, the EU maintains around 26.000 protected natural areas, covering nearly a fifth of the EU

to achieve gender equality: the EU has supported gender equality organisations around the world with close to €300 million since 2007 

to end violence against women: the EU-United Nations Spotlight initiative is a one of a kind partnership. The EU is investing €500 million in ending violence against women and girls worldwide

to empower young people: through Erasmus+, the EU provides opportunities for over 3 million young people for traineeships, apprenticeships, exchange and education 

to support the United Nations: the EU and its Member States defend the value of multilateralism and represent the largest financial contributor to the United Nations system

to promote peace and security: working with the UN, the African Union, NATO and the OSCE, the EU helps maintain peace and security around the world