Refugees top Obama's agenda at final UN General Assembly appearance

US President Barack Obama will Tuesday deliver his final speech to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) which will provide one of his final chances to burnish his legacy.

Obama, whose term in office ends in January, is expected to speak about the refugee crisis, which tops his agenda on his three-day trip to New York this week.

However, he is also likely to highlight progress made during his nearly eight years in office on climate change policy and nuclear non-proliferation.

The civil war in Syria and instability in Iraq are considered root causes of both the threat of terrorism and the refugee crisis. The collapse of the ceasefire in Syria and bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend have again raised the profile of war and terrorism in general and the need to seek solutions.

Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday morning at the 71st UNGA after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Brazil's new president, Michel Temer, who will deliver his first international speech.

Ban's speech is scheduled to start at 9 am (1300 GMT).

The annual meeting provides a representative of each member country an opportunity to speak on a world stage. Tuesday's schedule has 36 speeches by world leaders, and a similar number of speeches are scheduled to take place each day through Saturday. After a break on Sunday the final 13 speeches are to be held on Monday.

The refugee issue has already been a major topic at the UN this week. The 193 UN member states adopted a non-binding political declaration Monday, committing to better manage the flow of migrants and refugees by ensuring human rights, protecting vulnerable groups and enhancing global responsibility-sharing.

However, the document only reaffirms existing laws and guidelines and has been criticized for its shortcomings.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Obama will use his time at the UN to call on leaders to go even further over the remainder of his time in New York, which includes a leaders' summit on the global refugee crisis to also take place Tuesday.

"As President Obama will make clear at the leaders' summit tomorrow, the gap between the funds that we have and the funds that we need remains enormous," Kerry said Monday at a meeting on refugees and migration.

An estimated 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, including more than 21 million people who have fled across international borders.

Obama will convene the refugee summit on Tuesday with leaders from Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden. The goal is to secure agreements to pay for food aid and to double the number of refugees resettled in third countries each year.

Temer, who was confirmed as Brazil's new president less than three weeks ago, is expected to avoid any mention of the impeachment of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, and instead focus on business opportunities for foreign investors.

He is expected to present Brazil as a country open for foreign investment and discuss a new privatization plan.

Last update: Tue, 20/09/2016 - 09:46

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