Right now, more than 62 million girls around the world are not in school, half of whom are adolescent. That’s why President Obama is headed to the United Nations today to talk about building sustainable development and how we’re helping let girls learn across the globe. 

Chawanzi wrote to President Obama from Zambia about girls’ education. Read her letter, then share a yearbook-style photo of yourself telling us what you learned in school using #62MillionGirls to help raise awareness for girls’ education worldwide. 

TRANSCRIPT: Malala’s Speech at UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015

25 September, 2015

Bismillah hir Rahman ir Rahim

In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful.

Before I start, may I ask for some quiet – please pay attention to what youth is asking here.

Dear sisters and brothers, world leaders, please look up, because the future generation is raising their voice.

Today, we are 193 young people representing billions more. Each lantern we hold represents the hope we feel for our future because of the commitments you have made to the Global Goals.

In my life, I have experienced terrorism, displacement and denial from education. And these are the tragedies that millions of children are still suffering.

That shocking and heart-breaking photo of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying dead on a sea shore. The parents of the girls abducted by Boko Haram, with tears flooding from their eyes. And little children on the Syrian border with no home, no hope, force us to ask: how many more will we see killed, being rejected, neglected, being homeless? How many more?

The world needs a change. It cannot change itself. It is me, it is you, it is all of us who have to bring that change.

Dear world leaders, dear brothers and sisters,

Education is not a privilege. Education is a right. Education is peace.

Promise peace to all children, in Pakistan, in India, in Syria and in every corner of the world. Promise peace and prosperity.

Promise an education to my brave sister Salam and all refugee children, that wars cannot stop them from learning.

Promise my sister Amina that our sisters abducted by Boko Haram will be brought back and that all girls will be able to study in safety.

Promise us that you will keep your commitments and invest in our future. Promise that every child will have the right to safe, free and quality primary and secondary education.

This is the real investment the world needs and what world leaders must do.

I am hopeful that we all, and the United Nations will be united in the goal of education and peace. And that we will make this world not just a better place but the best place to live.

Education is hope. Education is peace.

Thank you.

Share that you stand #withMalala for girls’ education. 

Reports of the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee)

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The General Assembly met this morning, 2 December, to discuss 22 reports of the the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee).  The First Committee discusses all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly (A/C.1/66/1). 

Reports to the General Assembly Plenary, 66th Session

UN Resources

Photo: General Assembly Discusses First Committee Reports. 2 December 2009. UN Photo/Sophie Paris

“The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear, they can be taught to hate, but they can also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who believed that might always makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership—leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal. That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood. Let us carry forward that faith into the future, for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.” —President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Malala brings the voices of youth to world leaders and encourages action: “The world needs a change. It cannot change itself. It is me, it is you, it is all of us who have to bring that change.” Read Malala’s full speech here: http://bit.ly/1WniB5j  

“My story is that of a 21st Century immigrant. I was born in Africa. My family fled a civil war and sought refuge in Europe. In 2006 I moved to the United States where, for the first time I felt at home. This is after all the land of immigrants; the land of opportunity.” —Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame writing to President Obama

Read Council Member Warsame’s letter on his own story of becoming a refuge. Then watch the President speak at the United Nations on countering violent extremism.

The UN General Assembly Debate starts today at UN Headquarters in New York, where more than 130 world leaders as well as foreign ministers will take the stage over the next week. 

In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the GA is

the highlight of the international diplomatic calendar - an opportunity for global figures to find common ground and deal directly with global problems.

Here’s how to follow all the (diplomatic) action:

And of course, we’ll keep you posted right here.


So, let us start with the basics. What is the 2030 Agenda? What exactly is it that is going on right now?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit is happening in New York right now, and it will be happening for the next three days. It’s a meeting between world leaders where the aim is to all agree on the formulation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 sustainable development goals and their 196 sub-targets. The meeting will take the whole weekend, but already the Agenda has been adopted, and we now have a world Agenda for the next 15 years. The Agenda will, to put it simply, dictate the approach of the UN in their work, both how they work internally and how they work with their member states and other partners. It will also have a huge impact on how countries tackle the different challenges that they are facing in everything from environmental sustainability, to education, poverty elevation and gender equality, just to mention a few.

Worth noting is that the negotiating part of the 2030 Agenda (where member states argues about if they should use this word instead of that, and other things that surprisingly will have much bigger implications than one might think) is more or less done. The draft of the goals has been negotiated and worked on since 2012 and he Rio+20 conference, and will most likely be adopted in their entirety at this stage.

The 2030 Agenda is “a plan for people, planet and prosperity that also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom”. It is at its core an integrated set of goals and targets that illustrates the interconnectedness of the “three pillars of sustainable development” (social, environmental and economic). All goals are in the formulation of their targets connected to multiple other goals, and together they create a web of targets and goals, where one cannot pull one strand without taking into consideration how it connects to other aspects of sustainable development. This creates a complicated set of goals, and the world is definitely facing a challenge in its work towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda. However, it is also our only chance to ensure that we protect not only our selves, but also the planet we live on, and that we ensure that the needs of the present is met while also ensuring that the possibility of future generations to meet their needs is safeguarded. Our actions these coming 15 years will be crucial for how life on our planet will look in the future, and there are many exciting, if challenging, things ahead of us.

The Palestinian flag is raised for the first time at United Nations Headquarters in New York. “This is a day of hope,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as he attended the ceremony, along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

“Now is the time to restore confidence by both Israelis and Palestinians for a peaceful settlement and, at last, the realization of two states for two peoples. I sincerely hope that a successful peace process will soon yield a day when we unfurl the Palestinian flag in its proper place – among the family of nations as a sovereign Member State of the United Nations,” added the Secretary-General. 

Read the full speech here: http://bit.ly/1LPw2rBless

They say that same-sex relationships and transgender identities go against their culture, religious beliefs or traditional values. My answer is that human rights are universal.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on what she tells representatives of governments that have not recognized LGBT rights.

More than 76 countries still criminalize consensual adult same-sex relationships.

At a UNGA meeting, ministers of various countries signed a declaration committing to protect LGBT rights and counter homophobic attitudes.

This week at UNGA, the U.S. returned to Iran this artifact that was seized from a smuggler by Customs enforcement. The artifact is a 7th century BC silver griffin-shaped ceremonial drinking vessel and was likely looted from a cave in northwestern Iran. It is considered the premier griffin of antiquity, a gift of the Iranian people to the world, and the United States is pleased to return it to the people of Iran.

General Assembly : Did You Know?

On 10 January 1946, representatives from the 51 Member States of the United Nations convened at Central Hall in London, England for the first session of the General Assembly. 

The General Assembly will hold a plenary meeting on 11 January 2016, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of this historic first meeting.

Prime Minister Clement Attlee (at speaker’s rostrum), of the United Kingdom, is seen addressing the opening session of the United Nations Organization’s General Assembly at Central Hall on Parliament Square in London. (UN Photo)

Consult one of the many resources available in The Dag Hammarskjöld Library to learn more about the General Assembly, past and present.

Left Photo: General Assembly, January 1946. (UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey)/Right Photo:General Assembly,September 2015. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)   

Official Documents of the United Nations

Library Collection

More books on and relating to the General Assembly can be found by searching the Library’s catalog, UNBISnet.

Library Research Guides

Library FAQs

The Library has many more FAQs relating to the General Assembly and its work.

Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium) addressing the General Assembly, shortly after his election as the first President of the General Assembly. To the right is Gladwyn Jebb, Executive Secretary of the United Nations ( UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey)

A general view of Central Hall with Mr. Bevin and Miss Ellen Wilkinson of the United Kingdom delegation seated in the foreground. ( UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey)


UN Women calls for achieving gender equality and a planet 50-50 by 2030. UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo and President of Chile Michelle Bachelet applaud commitments made by 63 world leaders, who stepped it up for women and girls at a high-level event at the UN General Assembly today. Read more here: http://www.unwomen.org/en