The virtual edition of the United Nations General Assembly will see a record number of Heads of State and Government address the high-level week through pre-recorded video statements, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said.
This year, for the first time in the UN's 75-year history, Heads of State and Government will not be travelling to New York for the General Assembly session due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have submitted pre-recorded video statements for the various summits and sessions that will be played in the iconic General Assembly hall.
The General Debate, that runs from September 22 to 29, will see 119 Heads of State and 54 Heads of Government speak through pre-recorded video statements in this year's virtual format compared to previous in-person sessions when typically between 70 and 80 Heads of State participated in-person in the General Debate.
UN Secretary-General Guterres said the General Debate will have the largest number of Heads of State and Government ever who will make their national statements recorded in their own countries and then broadcast in the General Assembly room with the presence of the permanent representatives but without delegations coming from the capitals.
"Virtual participation may mean that a record number of Heads of States and Government take part in the high-level week, but going online will undoubtedly create new challenges. We will need to learn as we go, and continue to demonstrate the greatest flexibility," Guterres said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next week address the high-level meeting to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the General Debate.
The annual session of UN General Assembly begins on September 21 with the High-Level Meeting to Commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
On the occasion, the 193 UN Member States will adopt a forward-looking political declaration, negotiated through an intergovernmental process on the theme of "The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism".
PM Modi will address this special event through a pre-recorded video statement. The General Debate will commence on September 22 and run through September 29. prime minister Modi will deliver the national statement on September 26 through a pre-recorded video statement.
The vision PM Modi outlines at these two high-level meetings will be closely watched as it comes on the eve of India taking a seat at the powerful UN Security Council as an elected non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is listed as the first speaker for the General Debate. The US is traditionally the second speaker on the opening day of the General Debate and if Trump travels to New York, he would be deliver in-person the final address of his presidency's first term.
According to the provisional list of speakers, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to address the virtual General Debate on the opening day.
Last year, PM Modi had travelled to New York to attend the high-level annual General Assembly session after addressing a mega event "Howdy Modi" in Houston.
A high-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held on October 2.
The landmark 75th anniversary of the UN comes amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic across the world that has in over six months infected more than 30 million people and will soon reach a grim milestone of over a million deaths.
The UN has said that in accordance with existing practice at the General Debate, a voluntary 15-minute time limit should be observed and the list of speakers has been prepared on the basis of a 15-minute statement by each delegation.