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Leaders Head to UN for Annual General Assembly

Close to 100 national leaders head to UN for annual General Assembly meeting

Leaders from nearly 100 countries are headed to New York to participate in the main annual debate, which is slated to open tomorrow and run through the end of the month at the United Nations General Assembly.

As of today, 62 Heads of State, 21 Heads of Government, two Vice Presidents, one Crown Prince and 12 Prime Ministers/Foreign Ministers are planning to attend, according to a UN spokesman. In addition, 91 Foreign Affairs Ministers and one Deputy Foreign Minister are expected.

The fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, which officially opened last week, will be presided over by the Foreign Minister of Gabon, Jean Ping, who has pledged to work for reform ahead of next year's sixtieth anniversary.

The debate will open, by tradition, with an address by the President of Brazil. Also slated to speak tomorrow are the leaders of the United States, Qatar, Gabon, Switzerland, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Slovenia.

In a related development, tomorrow marks the start of a special four-day "treaty event" at the UN designed to encourage countries to sign on to various legal pacts.

The focus of the event this year is on the protection of civilians, who are the primary victims in today's violent conflicts. National leaders and other officials in town for the general debate will be able to sign, ratify, or accede to any treaty on deposit at the UN.

International human rights treaties will be spotlighted along with those more directly connected with armed conflict, such as the Genocide Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court, and the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. Complementing these pacts are a range of other agreements, including those relating to the use of destructive weapons, and treaties on the transport and trafficking of both humans and firearms.

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