In a move to strengthen international cooperation and offer personal viewpoints on global matters, a high-ranking Cambodian delegation is set to attend the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York this coming September.

This year’s theme is centred around fostering trust and rekindling worldwide solidarity.

An Sokkhoeurn, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said Cambodia’s preparations for the UNGA on July 31.

The make-up of the delegation would be determined by the next government, assuring that the country would be represented at the highest possible level, he added.

“The General Debate of the UNGA represents a significant annual gathering of world leaders, offering an unparalleled global stage.

“It allows the UN member states, including Cambodia, to address the international community directly, present our perspectives on pressing issues, and showcase the government’s policies, commitments, efforts, success stories, priorities, and initiatives with regard to international cooperation, peace and security, and particularly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Sokkhoeurn said.

Sokkhoeurn further emphasised Cambodia’s excellent opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with other nations and international organisations during the UNGA.

He said such dialogues could reinforce mutually beneficial cooperation, inspire new partnerships, encourage collaborative efforts on shared issues, and garner support for various initiatives.

President-elect of the 78th UNGA Dennis Francis, in a letter dated June 29, informed member states that the session’s theme would be “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards Peace, Prosperity, Progress and Sustainability for all” .

The regular session is scheduled to run from September 5-19, with a high-level general debate to follow until September 26.

Seng Vanly, a lecturer in international relations and regional political observer, pointed out the novelty of the event for the Cambodian delegation in the newly formed government led by Hun Manet, making this their first attendance at the UNGA’s General Debate.

He said the upcoming UNGA meeting holds significance, showcasing the participation of UN member states in addressing global crises.

“This year’s focus is on resolving global issues and accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] that have been slowed down by Covid-19. Leaders will be discussing methods to hasten solutions,” he said.

Vanly further underscored the UNGA as an opportunity for solidifying existing alliances and creating new ones.

The delegation of the new government, he suggested, might be especially active in pursuing bilateral or regional meetings, particularly in light of seeking international support following criticism of the July 23 general election.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, highlighted that the UNGA will bring world leaders together to discuss a variety of topics following a period of weakened multilateral systems due to superpower geopolitical competition and global divisions.

“We have seen the development goals within the international framework hindered as major countries, which form the global backbone, were occupied with war and influence competition, leading them to overlook the UN’s common agenda,” he noted.

He opined that the forum could prove significant for the new Manet-led Council of Ministers to establish the legitimacy of the new Cambodian government in the eyes of the international community, mirroring events in 2013 when Prime Minister Hun Sen led a delegation to the UNGA after his re-election.

Phea said the upcoming session would likely tackle pressing issues such as climate change; the economic, food and energy crises; the Russia-Ukraine war; the South China Sea dispute; and the contentious Taiwan Straits.