What to Look for as the 67th UN General Assembly Begins

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World leaders will take the stage at the United Nations this week and next, for the 67th session of the General Assembly. The session began Tuesday afternoon, but world leaders aren’t expected to flood in until next week to begin discussing several pressing issues

Two major topics expected to be discussed this year include Syria and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He said the situation in Syria stands in stark contrast to last year’s revolution in Libya. He expects it will put President Barack Obama in a tough spot when he addresses the U.N. next week.

“He’s going to have to try to reframe this as others simply not stepping up to the plate, and, in particular, calling out Russia and China for their unwillingness to show any solidarity with the other members of the Security Council,” he explained.

A variety of world leaders will take the podium during the General Assembly, and Stewart said Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi is one leader the world will be watching.

“He’s under extraordinary pressure to try to reign in the forces of anti-Americanism in his country,” Stewart explained. “The Obama administration will be looking for signals of commitment to tolerance and pluralism.”

Stewart believes the top topics that will dominate this year’s session include:

•    The crisis in Syria.
•    Iran’s nuclear program and ambitions.
•    The future of the Palestinian bid for membership in the U.N.
•    The future of the Human Rights Council.
•    Striking a balance between environmental conservation and economic growth.