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President Obama’s UN Debut

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President Obama’s UN Debut

Posted by Laura Heaton on September 23, 2009

President Obama's UN Debut

President Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly just began, and you can tune in live here.

President Obama’s United Nations debut began yesterday with a flurry of meetings and appearances. (U.N. Dispatch is providing great coverage of the General Assembly more broadly than we can.) It seems that the trend is for President Obama to speak in broad strokes. The word is he’ll pledge greater U.S. engagement internationally and make the point that the United States can’t take on the world’s problems alone.

For those of us working on specific global issues, the dearth of details is getting a bit frustrating.

A case in point: President Obama’s luncheon for African heads of state yesterday. The president’s top advisor on Africa, Michelle Gavin, briefed the press about the gathering. (Read Gavin’s full remarks here.)

It seems to me there were some pretty glaring omissions from the lunch conversation. Namely, Gavin notes that "no specific conflict situation actually came up." How you manage to go through a whole lunch with African heads of state and not have at least a passing mention of world’s deadliest conflict zones "come up" is rather remarkable.

And in regards to DRC, a journalist asked whether Congo was represented at the lunch and whether "women’s health issues" came up (which, given the context of the question, seems pretty obviously to be a reference to the prevalence of rape). Gavin said that on the topic of "women’s issues" the conversation touched on job creation in Liberia.

Let’s hear what President Obama has to say…