As thousands of world delegates descend in eastern Manhattan, the stage is all set for the world's largest diplomatic event--United Nations General Assembly 2019. The UNGA, which kicked off earlier this week, comprises leaders from nearly 200 countries and will focus on the theme: "Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action, and inclusion."
The summit commences amid worldwide protests over climate change, increasing tensions between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf, Brexit in the UK, renewed antagonism between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, unrest in Hong Kong, and the collapse of peace talks in Afghanistan.
Indiatvnews.com takes a walk down the history lane to bring you 10 famous quotes from the world leaders that were made at the UNGA and still reverberates across the globe.
1. Daniel Ortega (1987)
“Before consulting the hotheads who present various military options such as a military invasion: remember, President Reagan, Rambo only exists in the movies.”
Daniel Ortega, the then president of Nicaragua, had used the general assembly to assail U.S. policy in Central America, more importantly, the funding of the Contra rebels and supporting the Somoza dictatorship. He even said, "bled the Nicaraguan people dry." The speech prompted a walkout from the U.S. delegation.
2. Fidel Castro (1960)
"Were Kennedy not a millionaire, illiterate, and ignorant, then he would obviously understand that you cannot revolt against the peasants."
Cuban President Fidel Castro's debut speech was over four hours and is the longest speech in the General Assembly. In 1959, he has a friendlier visit, but by 1960 he used to words to blast U.S. imperialism and insult John.F.Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who US presidential candidates during the period. He also pulled off another bizarre stunt by keeping live chickens in his hotel room during the summit.
3. Nikita Krushchev (1960)
“Mr. President, call that toady of American imperialism to order.”
Soviet Union leader Nikita Krushchev contributed to the long list of controversial moments of the general assembly when he banged on the table with his shoe while making the above quote. The move was made in an attempt to silence a Filipino delegate who was railing against Soviet imperialism. The gesture has become a classic example of overheated rhetoric, but it shouldn’t have been all that surprising coming from the man who famously warned, “We will bury you.”
4. Colin Powell (2003)
"If you break it, you own it"
In another absurd episode, the US secretary of state Colin Powell held up a vial of anthrax as evidence of purported weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His speech played an important role in making the case for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq and Colin Powell admitted years later that his UN speech was a “blot” on his record and a “great intelligence failure”.
5. Henry Cabot Lodge (1960)
“It so happens that I have here today a concrete example of Soviet espionage so that you can see for yourself.”
During a debate over the shooting down of an American U-2spy plane over the Soviet territory, US Ambassador during the his speech, took out a wooden seal that had been presented to the U.S. embassy in Moscow by the Soviet-American Friendship Society and then proceeded to extract a tiny microphone out of the eagle’s beak with a pair of tweezers. The Soviet resolution condemning the U.S. spy flights was defeated.
6. Hugo Chavez (2006)
“The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still.”
Known as an avowed opponent of United States, then Venezuelan president compared US president Goerge W Bush to no less a figure than Satan. Speaking from the podium the day after Bush’s address, Chavez told the assembly: “The devil came here yesterday.”
Crossing himself theatrically, briefly clasping his hands as if in prayer, and glancing heavenwards, he added: “Right here! And it smells of sulfur still today. Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman I refer to as the devil came here, talking as if he owned the world.”
7. Muammar al-Gaddafi (2009)
“It should not be called a security council, it should be called a terror council.”
In his 100-minute debut speech, In his 100-minute speech, Gaddafi listed half a century’s worth of grievances and conspiracy theories including accusing the United States of developing swine flu and questioning the official record of the Kennedy assassination. Most of Gaddafi’s wrath was reserved for the U.N. Security Council, which he likened to al Qaeda.
8. Benjamin Netanyahu (2012)
"Nuclear Iran same as nuclear-armed al-Qaeda"
The general assembly has also witnessed some of the most controversial props too. In 2012 the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu produced a drawing which he said illustrated how close Iran was to developing a nuclear weapon.
The subject could hardly have been more serious but the picture itself – a cartoon-style bomb with a fizzing fuse – invited derision, not least from Tehran, which has consistently denied that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
9. Yasser Arafat (1974)
“An old world order is crumbling before our eyes, as imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and racism, whose chief form is Zionism, ineluctably perish.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman was invited to address the General Assembly for the first time at the request of the non-aligned movement. The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat took the stage wearing fatigues and delivered a blistering attack on Zionism. A year later, the notorious “Zionism equals racism” was passed and Israel’s relations with the U.N. have been, at best, uneasy ever since.
10. Omar al-Bashir (2006)
“The picture that volunteer organizations try to give in order to solicit more assistance and more aid, have given a negative result.”
During the 2006 general assembly, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir claimed that the ongoing slaughter in Darfur, which was referred as "genocide" by the then US President George W Bush, was, in fact, a scheme cooked up by Western aid organizations to solicit funding.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Bashir went further, blaming Israel and Zionist organizations for spreading lies in order to weaken the Sudanese government. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made this claim as well.