UNGA 2021: Why Brazil always speaks first at the UN General Assembly – Explained

Know why Brazil is always the first speaker at the UN General Assembly (UNGA)?

Created On: Sep 24, 2021 13:26 ISTModified On: Sep 27, 2021 15:42 IST
President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil at 76th UNGA, Twitter/govbrazil
President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil at 76th UNGA, Twitter/govbrazil

Brazil is always the first speaker at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) since the 10th UNGA that was held in 1995. As the world leaders gather for the 76th UN General Assembly at New York during the week-long debate and meetings that began on September 21, Brazil Head of State will address the UNGA as the first speaker followed by the US. PM Modi is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 25.

The long-standing tradition of Brazil as the first speaker at UNGA for over the past six decades goes back to the early formation years of the United Nations up till 1947. A set of conventions and bylaws comprise the details on the order of speakers, length of their speeches, etc. The UN General Assembly is divided into two segments each day which are a morning session and an afternoon session.

Why Brazil always speaks first at the UN General Assembly?

Since the 10th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1995, Brazil has been addressing the Assembly as the first speaker, followed by the United States (US). After the first two speeches by Brazil and then the US, the order of speakers is not fixed. This tradition is not based on alphabetical order.

The origin of this practice dates back to the early years of the formation of the United Nations (UN) soon after the end of World War II. During those days, most countries were hesitant to address the UNGA as the first speaker. Brazil was the only country that chose to be the first speaker at the Assembly.

Another explanation for this tradition goes back to 1947 when the diplomat Oswaldo Aranha of Brazil presided over the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly. Aranha was also elected as the President of the second session of the General Assembly. Since then, Brazil has always been the first speaker at the UNGA.

On September 21, 2021, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro was the first head of state who spoke first at the 76th UNGA in accordance with the decades-long tradition. He gave the opening speech at the UNGA on September 21, 2021.

Why United States (US) is the second speaker at the UN General Assembly?

The United States (US) is always the second speaker at the UN General Assembly as it is the host country for the UNGA. On September 21, 2021, US President Joe Biden addressed the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. During his first-ever UNGA speech, he shared his vision for a new era of diplomacy.

What is the order of the remaining speakers and the General Debate?

The remaining order of the speakers is based on several factors such as the rank of the representative, importance of the speakers representing his or her country, geographical balance among other factors.

Regarding the General Debate, the President of the UN General Assembly calls the Debate to order. On June 7, 2021, the UN General Assembly elected Abdulla Shahid of Maldives as President of its 76th session of the UNGA.

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