World Leaders Allowed to Attend the Annual United Nations Assembly in Person

If Covid-19 limitations prohibit world leaders from traveling, the UN has opted to allow them to attend their annual gathering at the UN General Assembly in September in person or present pre-recorded statements.

In a message to the 193 UN member nations published on Monday, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, a major advocate of in-person sessions, stated that “significant efforts have been made to ensure that the UN is able to hold an in-person high-level week from September 21-30”.

For the first time in the United Nations’ 75-year existence, the Covid-19 outbreak prevented world leaders from attending their annual gathering in New York last year. Instead, at the General Assembly Hall, pre-recorded addresses by leaders were broadcast, each introduced by a single diplomat from each country.

This year, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters on Monday that there will be a “hybrid setup,” with some leaders giving comments in person in the assembly chamber and others making video statements.

The assembly president worked closely with member states and the UN system, according to Bozkir’s office, to ensure that the high-level week could “benefit from in-person diplomacy” among leaders.

As the situation in New York for Covid-19 has improved, Bozkir has increased the number of delegates allowed in the General Assembly Hall from one to two, and for the high-level week, a speaker plus three delegates will be allowed in the large chamber.

It was announced that the 193 member countries will now be allowed to choose their degree of representation at the high-level meeting, officially known as the general debate.

If delegations are unable to travel owing to continued Covid-related issues, the option for member states to send a pre-recorded video statement was provided to guarantee that all member states had an equal opportunity to participate in the high-level week. According to Bozkir’s Office, This option is not designed to replace in-person participation; rather, it is intended to give delegations with an alternate means of attending that takes into account the discrepancy in the pandemic’s impacts on delegations, particularly vaccination equity.

Some countries’ leaders have been pressing for an in-person meeting in New York, but presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs go with huge delegations, which has been an issue in terms of the number of individuals allowed inside UN headquarters.

Thousands of people and hundreds of side activities are regularly present during high-level weeks at the UN compound. The note doesn’t say where or if there will be any side events. Almost all UN ambassadors anticipate being kept outside of the UN headquarters building.

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