International

UN General Assembly kicks off Tuesday with world leaders “at home” – Observer

From Tuesday, the United Nations will hold its 75th General Assembly, but for the first time, world leaders will stay at home and the meeting is almost exclusively virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, the big meeting will be different from what has been held so far, as world leaders have been “invited” to “stay at home” and address the world through pre-recorded speeches that will be broadcast. later. several days of general debate (between September 22 and 29).

Despite this appeal to world leaders – to avoid the usual concentrations of delegations at the organization’s headquarters in New York (United States) as part of prevention measures related to the current pandemic crisis – the United Nations recalled this week that any world leader you have the right to appear in person.

Among the 193 member states of the UN, there is at least one that has already expressed this intention: the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who plans to speak at the General Assembly, presents himself unless two months of his candidacy for the US presidential elections. and try to be re-elected.

“I intend to go directly to the United Nations to deliver the speech,” the US head of state said in statements made in mid-August.

“I think it better represents the country. I feel a little obliged, as President of the United States, to be present (…) to make what will be an important speech, ”then underlined Trump, who since taking over the leadership of the US administration in January 2017, launched strong criticism of the United Nations multilateral system and its member institutions.

Reduced funding and exit processes for some agencies, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2019, and more recently, the World health (WHO), are just a few episodes of the Trump-UN relationship.

Although the corridors of UN headquarters are quieter these days, the organization led by Secretary-General António Guterres has already indicated that the 75th session of the General Assembly will have an intense schedule, ensuring that the physical absence of the majority of world leaders (and the resulting failure to hold hundreds of bilateral meetings) and the virtual format of the various high-level meetings planned “will not mean that the cogs of world diplomacy and sustainable development will not run at the usual speed “.

This session of the General Assembly will be of particular importance this year, as it intends to mark, at the highest level, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

Despite the constraints, the anniversary will be marked there.

On September 21, an event at UN headquarters, which will be entitled to an ‘online’ broadcast, aims to “generate renewed support for multilateralism,” according to the announced organization, stressing that the initiative comes at a time “Where many think [que este apoio] has become increasingly urgent as the world grapples with the covid-19 pandemic ”.

António Guterres is expected to speak in person at this high-level meeting.

In the same event, the 193 member states are expected to adopt a joint declaration on the occasion of the organization’s 75th anniversary, which mentions the successes and failures of the UN, but also pledges to build a post-world world. pandemic more equitable. , cooperator and protector of the planet.

In fact, the theme chosen for the general debate of the 75th session of the General Assembly also reflects this approach: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – face to covid-19 through effective multilateral action ”.

To mark the organization’s 75th anniversary, the UN launched, as António Guterres called it, the “largest global dialogue ever organized” on global cooperation and its role in shaping the future, an initiative that called for the participation of the “global public”.

In an interview published this summer with the Associated Press (AP), the secretary general said he had received around 120,000 responses from people in 193 countries.

In the same interview, the former Portuguese Prime Minister, who took over the leadership of the UN in January 2017, stressed that in 75 years, the organization’s greatest achievement has been the long period that has elapsed. since World War II, in which the great powers did not fight each other and nuclear war was avoided.

The biggest failure, he said, has been the organization’s inability to prevent the proliferation of medium and small-scale conflicts.

The program of the 75th General Assembly also includes, and always in virtual form, a summit on biodiversity (September 30) and another on post-pandemic global governance (September 24).

Two other meetings are also planned: one to mark and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (October 2) and another to mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth Conference on Women (October 1).

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