**In official protest locations and just plain street corners this week, the heavily secured streets outside the United Nations complex were filled this week with people who said they were there protesting injustice.
They acknowledged that their action might not make a direct, immediate difference at home. But in many cases, that seemed secondary.
Simply to be there and to represent seemed their most important priority.
Christiane Diagne, a social worker from Montreal came to the United Nation to voice support for jailed Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was put in intensive care last month after nearly three weeks of a hunger strike to protest criminal charges brought against him by Senegal’s government, his party said.
Sonko was put in detention July 31 in advance of a trial in which he faces charges of calling for insurrection, conspiracy against the state and other alleged crimes.
Diagne and other Sonko supporters chanted in his favor in the designated General Assembly protest space.
They said the direct effect of the protest mattered less than the fact that they were doing something.
“For us, we have to do that,” Diagne said. “We want to be able to choose who’s going to be our president.”
Fighting for "freedom'
Daniel Pedro from Luanda, Angola is now living in New York and he came to the U.N. to protest Angola’s ruling MPLA party and supporting the main opposition party — the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, known as UNITA.
“In Angola we don’t have freedom,” he said of his home country.
Tiran Antaplian was in front of the U.N. to protest the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region inside the borders of Azerbaijan where a large Armenian minority lives that has been a flashpoint since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The announcement of a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, just a day after Azerbaijan launched heavy artillery fire against fighters of Armenian heritage, toned down fears of a third full-scale war over the region in the southern Caucasus Mountains, but not before people such as Antaplian came out to to speak out on behalf of the Armenian side.
The General Assembly didn’t draw just informal protesters who came to speak out on behalf of their causes on the streets outside.
Many social organizations came to formally advocate for their causes at the U.N. or at one of the related meetings occurring along the General Assembly.
Carmen Correa, CEO of Pro Mujer, a group that works for the financial empowerment of women in Latin America said that the General Assembly is a great place to meet donors and leaders in countries where Pro Mujer works.
One was the 2023 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where leaders of a a wide variety of groups came together to take advantage of a critical mass that they hoped would help them get attention and funding for their causes.