Send video statements, prevent UNGA from being a super-broadcaster event, US to world leaders

File photo of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in session | Photo: Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg

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The United Nations: Amid the burgeoning Delta variant of COVID-19, the United States has urged world leaders to make their statements at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly next month via video, instead of surrendering in New York, to make sure the high profile week doesn’t turn into a super-broadcaster event.

The UN general debate begins on September 21 and will continue until September 27. According to the first provisional list of speakers for the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly released by the UN, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in person on September 25.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has written to the 193 UN Member States that as the host country for the UN Headquarters, her country has an important responsibility to ensure the safety of participants and residents of New York.

“The same goes for the Secretariat and the President of the General Assembly. We need your help to keep UNGA High Level Week 76 from being a big-ticket event, she wrote in last week’s letter seen by PTI.

Thomas-Greenfield noted with concern that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a significant health risk globally, with the Delta variant requiring enhanced mitigation measures given its virulence in fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people. .

With cases and hospitalizations increasing dramatically in the United States and all counties in New York City currently classified as having the highest level of community transmission, she said, in light of current health concerns , we will communicate to all member and observer states that heads of delegation should consider presenting their statements to the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly via video.

In the event that delegations choose to travel to New York for the general debate, the United States has asked delegations to bring the minimum number of travelers necessary.

US President Joe Biden is due to address the session in person, his first address to the world organization as a US leader.

According to the first provisional list of speakers, so far 167 heads of state and heads of government and 29 ministers and diplomats are expected to address the general debate at the United Nations. About 40 leaders are listed to address the high-level session through pre-recorded statements, including Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Nepal.

The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly will begin on September 14. Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid will chair this year-long session.

The United States is also adamantly telling member states that outside of the general debate, when world leaders address the world organization, all other high-level events, including those held on the sidelines, should take place. hold virtually.

Thomas-Greenfield said that although the UN Secretariat has already communicated some modalities for the high-level week, I would like to clarify our call, as the host country, for all meetings and side events organized by the ‘UN, beyond the general debate, be entirely virtual’.

Side meetings and high profile events attracting travelers to New York unnecessarily increase the risk to the community, New Yorkers and other travelers, she said.

I am particularly concerned about the possibility that the United Nations, under the auspices of the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, will organize several high-level in-person events during the high-level week – possibly to include events on climate change, vaccines, the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, the Food Systems Summit and the high-level dialogue on energy.

We are convinced that the General Debate should be the only event organized with in-person participation during the High Level Week; the United States stands ready to do whatever it takes to make these important events on shared priorities successful in a virtual format, said Thomas-Greenfield.

She said that in order to ensure the safety of UNGA participants and residents of New York, the United States will significantly limit its in-person delegation to New York and Washington encourages other member states to do so. same.

“We each need to do our part to reduce the number of activities that would attract travelers to New York at this time,” said Thomas-Greenfield.

Last year, world leaders submitted prerecorded video statements for the United Nations General Assembly session in September, as heads of state and government were unable to physically attend the annual gathering due to the pandemic of coronavirus. It was the first time in the UN’s 75-year history that the high-level session went virtual.

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