African leaders at UNGA: adapting diplomacy for development in a changing landscape

African leaders and delegates considered their participation in the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York a significant achievement. The UNGA, which convenes annually in September and includes all 193 UN member states, is a crucial global forum for making important decisions. The 78th session concluded with numerous commitments aimed at improving the lives of people worldwide and reshaping development paradigms.

In the context of Africa’s development, recent extraordinary sessions and high-level meetings held alongside the United Nations General Assembly have brought attention to several critical obstacles facing the continent’s progress. These events have also highlighted the potential to reshape Africa’s priorities and work towards realizing the aspirations of its people, as well as outlining strategic pathways for the future.

African leaders have expressed concerns about the persistent dominance and hegemony of political powers from the global South and have criticized the limitations of a unipolar international system. They have voiced support for structural reforms within international organizations and emphasized the importance of comprehensive, long-term development plans for Africa, as outlined in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Notably, there is growing skepticism about the sustainability of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many experts, particularly among African politicians, intellectuals, and development leaders, believe that progress toward the SDGs has been significantly hampered by geopolitical conflicts. Additionally, confrontations between major global powers and multinational development banks have resulted in reduced financial commitments and pledges.