They said it: Less-quoted leaders at UN, in their own words

Seychelles President Danny Faure addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Lots of leaders saying lots of things about lots of topics — topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world.

That’s what the speechmaking at the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain enormous topics and certain louder voices dominate.

Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts you might not have heard — the voices of leaders speaking at the United Nations who might not have captured the headlines and the air time on Tuesday.


“Our nation was forged by the ocean. We are acutely aware of the challenges that poses with the threat of climate change. However, the ocean also presents a myriad of untapped opportunities.”

— Danny Faure, president of the Seychelles, whose very existence is threatened by the rising seas that accompany climate change.


“Perhaps because I see from this wheelchair, I see through the eyes of the heart. When you have legs, you look ahead of you and above you. However, when you’re seated in a wheelchair, you see horizontally, and you see below you. And you discover other realities, other worlds. You see those who only encounter barriers to move forward, to continue, including even to be able to live. Barriers of different types – mistreatments, xenophobia, racism, injustice, machismo, inequality. In other words, to sum it up, exclusion. This story is not only my story. It’s the story of billions of people around the world. … There are so many brothers and sisters who are abandoned and forgotten, and there are so many people who walk right by without even noticing them.”

— Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who uses a wheelchair after being shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down during a 1998 robbery:


“My friends, there is no such thing as a unilateral agreement. It takes at least two parties to make an agreement.”

— King Abdullah of Jordan, on the efforts needed to create statehood for the Palestinian people.


“Migration is a constant in human affairs. We in Africa are grateful to countries who treat migrants with compassion and humanity.”

— Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria


“Let us admit that there will always be economic inequality of nations. And yes, we all have something to offer to humanity. But those with more resources and power must step out to offer more. Let us remember — power is not status. Power is responsibility. Leadership is not prestige. Leadership is responsibility. We must define global leadership in terms of global responsibility.”

— Peter Mutharika, president of Malawi


Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.