The United Nations’ General Assembly is an annual gathering of representatives from all over the world – so perhaps it’s no wonder there are some public bust-ups.
Although the meeting is meant to bring countries together amid various crises, there are usually a few clashes, and this year was no different.
Here’s a look at just a few of the more eyebrow-raising exchanges to emerge from 2023′s UNGA.
1. Humanity has ‘opened gates to hell’
The UN’s general-secretary issued a deeply alarming warning about the world’s inaction on climate change.
He suggested “humanity has opened the gates to hell”, and warned that the global effort to cut planet-heating emissions is still “dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.”
2. Zelenskyy mentions Prigozhin
This year marked the Ukrainian president’s first in-person UN address – and he definitely made an impact with his opening statements.
As he took aim Russia, he was not afraid to mention Yevgeny Prigozhin, the late mercenary leader who died in a helicopter crash just two months after his failed attempt to overthrow Moscow’s ministry of defence.
He had been one of Putin’s allies prior to his mysterious death, and there has been suspicion that the Kremlin was involved in Prigozhin’s demise.
Zelenskyy said: “Evil cannot be trusted. Ask Prigozhin – if one bets on Putin’s promises.”
3. Russian ambassador snubs Zelenskyy
Unsurprisingly, when asked about the the Ukrainian president’s speech, Russia’s deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told reporters: “Did he speak? I didn’t notice he was speaking. I was on my phone.”
4. Zelenskyy calls for Russia to lose key UN power
Speaking at the UN Security Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for world leaders to strip Russia of its veto power.
He said there should be a reform to allow the 193 members of the UN to suspend or strip the veto powers of one of the permanent members of the Security Council for serious violations of the UN charter.
The Security Council is meant to ensure international peace and security but it cannot act on Ukraine because of Russia’s anticipated veto.
Zelenskyy accused Russia of “mass atrocities”, claiming: “The terrorist state is willing, through its aggression, to undermine all the grounds of international norms meant to protect the world from the wars.”
He also left the council almost immediately after his address to the Security Council, so he did not clash with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat.
5. Russia slams Ukraine back: ‘Nothing more than a spectacle’
Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia protested the council president’s decision to let Zelenskyy speak ahead of the 15 council members at the security council.
Nebenzia claimed the president’s speech was “nothing more than spectacle”, making a dig at Zelenskyy’s past as a comedian.
This month’s council president, Albanian PM Edi Rama, then made a dig at Russia by saying the meeting was “not a special operation by the Albania presidency” – that’s a reference to Moscow insistently dubbing the Ukrainian war a “special military operation”.
6. Four questionable absences
The Security Council is made up of five countries: the UK, France, the US, Russia and China.
Only one of those nations’ leaders turned up: US president Joe Biden.
An international arrest warrant is out for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, so he is not travelling overseas much, while tensions between China and the US may possibly explain president Xi Jinping’s absence.
He’s also never attended the General Assembly, usually appearing remotely.
Both countries also harbour a great deal of frustration towards what they believe is an international body dominated by the West.
The absence of the UK and France though, has raised a lot of eyebrows. French president Emmanuel Macron, was supposedly pre-occupied with the re-arranged visit from the UK’s King Charles.
Rishi Sunak was the first PM to ditch the annual meeting in a decade, supposedly because of his schedule.
However, the Guardian reported that he may have ditched it out of embarrassment that he would be reprimanded for the UK’s poor climate performance recently.
7. US accused of ‘egregious’ crime by Iran
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi called out the US’s decision to drop the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, calling it an “egregious and unilateral crime in the international arena”.
The deal was meant to make sure Iran scaled back its nuclear programme in exhcnage for lifting US-led sanctions.
Although the deal was dropped under Donald Trump, no new deals have been set up under Joe Biden.
8. Iran protested by an Israeli ambassador
Gilad Erdan silently held up a photo of Mahsa Amini, with a tagline written in red, which reads: “Iranian women deserve freedom now.”
Amini was the Kurdish woman whose death in police custody sparked nationwide protests against the suppression of Irainian women last year.
After his silent protest, Erdan exited the summit only to be detained by security for a short time.
9. Netanyahu draws a line for the new Middle East
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a red marker on a map to show how peace with Saudi Arabia would create peace in the region.
The move came amid escalating tensions along the Gaza border and the West Bank between Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu said Israel must be able to forge relations with Arab countries despite the conflict with Palestinians, explaining: “We must not give the Palestinians a veto over Israel’s relations with Arab states.”
During the UNGA in 2012, he also drew a red line on Iran’s nuclear programme, saying Iran would be on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon in less than a year.
10. Ramaphosa slammed the ‘wealthy nations of the world’
South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he had travelled with an all-women delegation – a significant declaration in a summit still dominated by men.
He said: “It should be a matter of concern to us all that the majority of people who are sitting in this assembly are men.
“The question we have to ask is: Where are the women of the world? The women of the world have a right to be here to represent the views of women across the world.”
The president also claimed Africa will no longer pay price of high carbon emissions.
He said: “Centuries after the end of the slave trade, decades after the end of the colonial exploitation of Africa’s resources, the people of our continent are once again bearing the cost of the industrialisation and development of the wealthy nations of the world.”