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UN Chief suggests pre-recorded messages by world leaders for UNGA

The UN Chief suggested the measure as it is highly unlikely that the government and Head of the states will be able to travel to New York for a week due to ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

May 19, 2020 18:27 IST
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United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has suggested a different format for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in September 2020. The latest format suggests using pre-recorded messages from world leaders during the session.

The UN Chief suggested the measure as it is highly unlikely that the government and Head of the states will be able to travel to New York for a week due to ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The UN will be commemorating its 75th anniversary this year and the General Assembly session that is held annually in September will bring ministers, world leaders and diplomats from 193 member states to New York and the UN Headquarters.

Key Highlights:

UN General Debate is held in September at the beginning of each session of the General Assembly and it usually runs for over a week.

The options mentioned in the letter by UN Chief are among the first to give a sense of how the high- level session may take place in New York, which has been an epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic in the US.

The Department of General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) will come up with a provisional list of the speakers. It will depend on how member states will respond to the suggested format of the General Debate.

The UN Chief has also asked the relevant Departments to come up with the options related to the technical and procedural aspects that will be required to hold the general debate.

Telecommuting arrangements have already been in place at the UN headquarters since March 16, 2020. The UN Chief extended the order until June 30, 2020.

The suggestion of the pre-recorded messages by world leaders:

In a letter to the President of the 74th session of UN General Assembly Tijjani-Muhammed- Bande, the secretary-general stated that the medical community has anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to cycle with varying degrees across the world which will further require travel restrictions and social distancing measures.

The circumstances will make it difficult for the world leaders to travel to New York in September for the high-level week of the 75th Session of UN General Assembly.

Therefore, General Assembly must consider holding the general debate in different formats such as using pre-recorded messages of the head of states while the physical presence in the General Assembly will be limited to one delegate per delegation based in New York.

UN Chief further explained that this will allow the General Debate to continue from the participation of speakers from all the member states at the highest possible level.

He also added that similar arrangements could also be made at the high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN. He stated that this format will be better than postponing the General Debate to 2021.

The new format will also allow the organisation to continue its work uninterrupted and the world leaders will also be able to convey their views on important international issues, including the international response to the pandemic.

Other high-level meetings scheduled in September 2020:

UN Chief mentioned that as September is still a few months away, the forecasts about the pandemic may evolve. Any decision to ease the restrictions on social gatherings and social distancing measures will depend on the steps taken by New York City in the coming months.

Other high-level meetings scheduled for September can be held only if the social distancing measures applicable at that time can be implemented or else the meetings will be postponed to a date in 2021.

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