Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

World Leaders Convene Amid Crisis at the UNGA

The world’s largest diplomatic convention has kicked off as countries confront a grim reality.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 24, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the United Nations General Assembly’s big week, China’s deadly bus crash, and a U.S.-Taliban prisoner swap.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


World Leaders Meet in New York for UNGA

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the United Nations General Assembly’s big week, China’s deadly bus crash, and a U.S.-Taliban prisoner swap.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


World Leaders Meet in New York for UNGA

Nearly 150 world leaders have touched down in New York City for the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA)—this year’s largest diplomatic gathering—as the world confronts a grim reality of war, humanitarian crises, painful energy shocks, food shortages, climate change, and economic turmoil.

“The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said last week. “Geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the Cold War. They are paralyzing the global response to the dramatic challenges we face.”

The General Debate, the week’s main event, kicks off today and gives world leaders an opportunity to speak on their key priorities and concerns. Following tradition, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the first to go; the hosting U.S. leader would typically be second, although U.S. President Joe Biden—delayed by Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral—will instead deliver his speech tomorrow. 

Noticeably absent from the roster are the leaders of China, Russia, India, and Ethiopia, all of whom skipped the event and instead will have representatives standing in for them. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also is not in attendance due to the war, but he was granted a rare exception to give a prerecorded speech.

On the sidelines of the General Debate, expect a spate of private meetings and other sessions and summits, including discussions over global food security, the Iran nuclear deal, and the pandemic. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid plan to meet, as do Biden and new British Prime Minister Liz Truss. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is also set to convene this week. 

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rages on, observers expect the war and its global ramifications to dominate discussions. “We want to see Ukraine be in a position where it is strong when it goes to the negotiating table with the Russians,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told Foreign Policy last week. “It’s been our goal to consolidate support for Ukraine at the United Nations.”

But at the UNGA, Thomas-Greenfield said she hopes to draw attention to three key issues: food insecurity, global health, and reforming the United Nations. “The war in Ukraine has made an already bad situation even more dire,” she said. “So we will be hosting a ministerial, working with countries to commit to addressing the food insecurity issues.”

This year’s gathering comes as the U.N. grapples with a “profound crisis of faith,” as FP’s Robbie Gramer and Anusha Rathi report. Although calls for reform have mounted, exactly what those changes would look like remains far more hazy. 

“The problem is everyone wants reform. There isn’t a country on Earth that doesn’t say in public it feels the U.N. needs to change and catch up with current realities of the world,” Richard Gowan, the U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, told them. “But everyone’s vision of what U.N. reform should look like is different.”


What We’re Following Today

China’s deadly bus crash. Twenty-seven people were killed and 20 more people were injured in Guizhou, China, after a bus moving them to a quarantine center under Beijing’s harsh COVID-19 policy crashed at around 2:40 a.m. local time. 

News of the crash quickly spread on social media, triggering an outpouring of anguish and anger over the country’s rigid pandemic restrictions. In September, locked-down residents in Chengdu, China, were prevented from leaving their apartment compounds during an earthquake to adhere to government rules.

U.S.-Taliban prisoner swap. The Taliban have freed Mark Frerichs, an American contractor who had been the group’s hostage since 2020, in exchange for the United States’ release of drug lord Bashir Noorzai, who had previously been imprisoned for 17 years.

“Bringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly,” Biden said in a statement. “Our priority now is to make sure Mark receives a healthy and safe return and is given the space and time he needs to transition back into society.”


Keep an Eye On 

Puerto Rico’s hurricane nightmare. A devastating hurricane dumped 30 inches of rain on Puerto Rico this past weekend, leaving the majority of the island in the dark and in need of drinking water. As the resulting floodwaters triggered landslides and inundated roads, hundreds of Puerto Ricans have been evacuated while authorities have reported at least two deaths. “The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

New debt deal. Ecuador has inked a debt restructuring agreement with China for $4.4 billion, Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso told the Wall Street Journal. The deal is expected to help Ecuador save $1 billion over the next three years. “This is a great development for Ecuador,” Lasso said. 



Odds and Ends 

Most British broadcasters devoted Monday to live coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, but one channel went down a different—and slightly more controversial—path, instead playing The Emoji Movie during the funeral procession. The move sparked both criticism and delight as social media users poked fun at the decision.

“As her majesty is laid to rest, the nation pauses … to pay respect by watching the emoji movie on channel 5,” one person tweeted.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs. Comments are closed automatically seven days after articles are published.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden listens to remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on May 19.
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on May 19.

Russia’s Defeat Would Be America’s Problem

Victory in Ukraine could easily mean hubris in Washington.

Russian and Belarusian troops take part in joint military exercises.
Russian and Belarusian troops take part in joint military exercises.

Russia’s Stripped Its Western Borders to Feed the Fight in Ukraine

But Finland and the Baltic states are still leery of Moscow’s long-term designs.

Electricity pylons are shown under cloudy skies during rainfall near Romanel-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 15.
Electricity pylons are shown under cloudy skies during rainfall near Romanel-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 15.

Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Destroying the Multipolar World

The EU and Russia are losing their competitive edge. That leaves the United States and China to duke it out.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces new European Union energy policies at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels, on Sept. 7.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces new European Union energy policies at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels, on Sept. 7.

With Winter Coming, Europe Is Walking Off a Cliff

Europeans won’t escape their energy crisis as long as ideology trumps basic math.