General Debate: Facts, figures and beyond

Thursday, 02 November 2017

Worldwide | DGACM

Following the conclusion of the 72nd general debate, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) compiled statistics and issued a synopsis of the general debate, highlighting the trends, issues and major positions through visual representation and detailed analysis.

The synopsis, which is issued in digital format, provides a snapshot of the vast array of topics raised by Member States during the general debate and illustrates the challenges and synergies required from staff in DGACM and other departments within the UN system.

Fact and figures

As in past years, there was a high turn-out by Heads of State and Government.  For the first time in eleven years, all 193 Member States and three observers participated in the debate. Of those, there were 77 Heads of State, seven Vice Presidents, one Crown Prince and 37 Heads of Government. A total of 20 speakers were women, including five Heads of State, two Heads of Government, three Vice Presidents and seven Ministers, representing 10 per cent of all speakers. The speeches averaged 18 minutes in length, ranging from five minutes for the shortest to 43 minutes for the longest. Speeches were delivered in 26 languages, a 25% increase from last year. Six speakers delivered their statement in two languages, while the Secretary-General used English, French and Spanish.


Several important topics dominated the 2017 general debate: climate change, sustainable development,  the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), terrorism, nuclear issues and UN reform. Climate change, which has been consistently raised over the last decade, has for the first time in the history of the General Assembly, taken the lead in the general debate as the most pivotal issue among Member States. In 2017, 165 Member States raised the issue, with many linking climate change to the storms occurring in the different parts of the world as the general debate took place. The second-most discussed topic - sustainable development and the SDGs - was mentioned by 162 Member States.

More information

  • Download the full synopsis of the general debate (PDF)
  • Visit the UN General Assembly general debate webpage