President Donald Trump listens during the the United Nations Climate Action Summit during the General Assembly on Monday. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP
The annual UN General Assembly began yesterday with world leaders and blocs hoping to elevate and call for action over the issues that concern them, such as a coherent response to climate change, the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and new trade barriers that threaten global prosperity.

Leaders from each of the UN’s 193 member states will be given 15 minutes to address the assembly, although the time is not enforced.

The UN’s Climate Summit concluded on Monday without any commitment from world leaders on how to wean the global economy off fossil fuels. This as the effects of climate change are felt every year, from record summer temperatures recorded recently in the northern hemisphere to an increase in extreme weather events.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced that he would not be attending the General Assembly. South Africa’s delegation will instead be led by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor.

Ramaphosa’s excuse for missing the annual talk shop was that he wanted to deal with critical domestic matters like gender-based violence and the violence that has targeted immigrants in Gauteng.

US President Donald Trump who despises global bodies like the UN, will this week try to sell tougher sanctions against Iran whose leaders have acted to oppose US interests in the Middle East, from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

A four-year conflict between the Saudis and their allies against the Iran-backed Houthis has had a devastating impact on Yemenis, who have been ravaged by famine with no access to critical medicines because of a blockade.

This is but one conflict, and while the leaders of the respective countries involved will probably raise it, don’t expect them to come with any solutions.

While the UN was established to prevent another world war, it has shown over the years that despite all its good intentions, there’s absolutely no level of urgency to act on the crises that face ordinary citizens.

For this reason, Ramaphosa was probably right to give the annual talk shop a skip.

Until the permanent members of the Security Council are serious about taking action, don’t expect much movement from the behemoth that is the UN.