Highlights of the 71st general debate: Facts, figures and beyond

General Assembly Opens Seventy-first General Debate (UN Photo/Cia Pak)

General Assembly Opens Seventy-first General Debate (UN Photo/Cia Pak)

Do you know how many speakers participated in the general debate this year and of those, how many were Heads of State and Government? What was the longest, shortest and average time of speeches? And what were the most frequently mentioned topics?

Following the conclusion of the 71st general debate, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) gathered statistics relating to the high-level segment and issued a synopsis of the general debate, highlighting the trends, issues and major positions with visual representation and detailed analysis. For the first time, the synopsis this year adopted a "green" approach and was issued in digital format. The synopsis also provides a snapshot of the vast array of topics raised by Member States during the general debate and illustrates the intellectual challenges and collective synergies required from DGACM staff and colleagues from other functional areas within the UN system.

The general debate this year continued the trend of a high turn-out by Heads of State and Government. A total of 194 speakers participated, including the Holy See, the State of Palestine and the European Union. Of those, 75 were Heads of State, 10 Vice Presidents, 1 Crown Prince and 44 Heads of Government. A total of 19 speakers were women, including 5 Heads of State, 3 Heads of Government, 3 Vice Presidents and 7 Ministers, representing 9.8 per cent of all speakers. The speeches averaged just over 17 minutes, ranging from the longest (48 minutes) to the shortest (5 minutes). Speeches were delivered in 21 languages, with the majority given in the six official languages.

Several important topics dominated the 2016 general debate, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change, terrorism, the refugee crisis and UN reform (see graph below). The SDGs were mentioned by 181 Member States in their statements. Delegations stressed the importance of implementing the SDGs, and also lent strong support to the PGA’s theme for the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, "The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world". Climate change was the second-most discussed topic and was mentioned by 164 Member States, representing a 16 per cent increase from the previous general debate.

For more details, please click here to read the full synopsis of the general debate.