The 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is set to kick off its high-level week, where discussions will be held on expanding access to Covid-19 vaccines and confronting the rising dangers of climate change. After being held virtually last year due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the event will see physical participation of leaders from members states in New York.
It will go on till September 27 and the entourage accompanying the visiting leaders won’t be as large as in the past due to Covid-19 restrictions. Delegations will be limited to four members each in the main UN hall, while side events will be mostly virtual.
Here are the key points about the UN event:
• More than 100 world leaders are expected for the annual UN General Assembly.
• Heads of state scheduled to attend the event include US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
• Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Chinese president Xi Jinping, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Ebrahim Raisi, the new president of Iran will be among the no-shows.
• The UN wants diplomats to have the face-to-face time they need to address crisis issues. However, a cap has been put on the size of entourage etc to prevent it from becoming a super-spreader event.
• On climate change, Johnson will call upon world leaders to take a “concrete action”. His visit is seen as an important precursor to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) UN climate summit, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November.
• US President Joe Biden will focus on ending the Covid-19 pandemic, combating the climate crisis and defending human rights, democracy and the international rules-based order in his first address as the US President to the high-level UN General Assembly session next week.
• UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Biden on September 20 in New York City. Biden will address the General Debate on September 21, the first address of his presidency to world leaders from the iconic General Assembly hall.
• He is also likely to speak about the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized Kabul. Biden will seek to assure the world that America is still a reliable leader on the multilateral stage despite its rushed withdrawal.
• Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – US, Russia, the UK, China and France – are expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in a meeting on Wednesday.
• The week will end with the leaders of some of America’s closest allies in Asia – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga – heading to Washington for the first in-person meeting of the Quad bloc on Friday.