In September 2019, national delegations took the stage at the UN Headquarters in New York for the annual UN General Assembly debate. On their agendas were pressing global concerns, such as how to address poverty reduction, violent conflicts, and the climate crisis. Tech-related issues also made a strong appearance.
In the past few years, digital issues have risen steadily in priority during the General Debate. From only a handful of references to digital technology, world leaders are now acknowledging technology’s potential to attain the ambitious Agenda 2030 and to improve human life. At the same time, they are concerned about the misuse of technology.
This year, the six-day debate (24–30 September) saw technology-related topics being addressed in a higher number of statements compared to previous years (see our coverage of UNGA73 and UNGA72). Over a third of all national statements (84) referred to ICTs, which is an increase of 33.3% over last year’s 63 references and 79% compared to a total of 47 mentions in 2017. European countries accounted for over a third (30) of statements that tackled ICTs, followed by the Asia-Pacific region (24) and Africa (16).
And yet, curiously, this year's statements were mostly based on general phrases and proclamations. New insights and concrete proposals were missing, leading to an increase in the trend towards vagueness compared to the previous year.