PHOTO STORY: Hammer comes down on first virtual UN General Debate

#UN; #UNGeneralAssembly75thSession; #VirtualGeneralDebate; #PhotoStory; #Covid19GlobalLockdown

UN, Sep 30 (Canadian-Media): The first-ever virtual annual high-level debate of world leaders ended on Tuesday at the United Nations, after the event was moved online because of the COVID-19 global lockdown, UN reports said.

Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, chairs the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Delegates in the General Assembly hall sat at a safe social distance to prevent the potential spread of the virus and listened to mostly pre-recorded speeches provided by all UN Member States.

Some leaders, like the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, addressed the United Nations whilst promoting their country’s cultural, diplomatic, and political heritage.

While others, like the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, decided on perhaps a more conventional approach using well-trusted diplomatic symbols as a backdrop…in the UK’s case, the Union Jack and the United Nations flags.

​The General Debate lasts for six long days with speeches often continuing deep into the evening, although this year most of the pre-recorded speeches submitted by the UN’s 193 member countries kept to the 15-minute maximum length. Here, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed (right) and Vice-President of the General Assembly Adela Raz preside over the opening day of the debate.

The General Debate week is the busiest and possibly most consequential time of the year at UN Headquarters. This year the normally bustling corridors were largely deserted, however, the stay-at-home order meant that more world leaders than ever before actually addressed the meeting, albeit virtually.

And even if the world’s biggest political and diplomatic movers and shakers were not there in person the international media did take up their normal position outside the UN campus on First Avenue in Midtown, Manhattan.

The UN has remained open for business throughout the pandemic as symbolized by the daily flying of national flags.

In his speech to the General Assembly to close out the General Debate on Tuesday, the President of the 75th session, Volkan Bozkir, said that the week-long event has demonstrated that multilateralism is still operating at the highest levels.

Initially published by the United Nations

Photo story: ‘Strangest’ UN General Debate ever, gets underway

#UN; #WorldLeaders; #Covid19GlobalLockdown; #PrerecordedVideos

United Nations, Sep 26 (Canadian-Media): The annual get-together of world leaders is underway at the United Nations, albeit virtually, with world leaders sending in prerecorded videos amidst the COVID-19 global lockdown, creating an event which the UN chief has described as “beyond recognition” compared with any previous year.

The General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly gets underway at UN Headquarters in New York.
​Image credit: UN Photo: Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General António Guterres (left) speaks with Volkan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly, as the General Debate of the 75th session of the Assembly gets underway on Tuesday. Image credit: UN Photo: Rick Bajomas

Addressing the debate in person, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “in a world turned upside down, this General Assembly hall is among the strangest sights of all”. Image credit: UN photo: Mark Garten

Only one delegate from each UN Member State was present in the General Assembly hall which is typically standing room only on the first morning of the debate. The delegates were spaced apart to observe social distance guidelines as part of measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Image credit: UN Photo: Rick Bajomas

President Trump of the United States addressed the debate in a seven-minute recorded message from the White House, an unusually short speech from the US leader and well within the 15-minute limit for speeches. Image credit: UN photo: Manuel Elias

Also, somewhat unusually, four (China, France, Russia and the US) of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council addressed the very first session. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping’s message was recorded against the backdrop of the Great Wall of China. The United Kingdom’s premier is due to address the debate on Saturday morning. Image credit: UN photo: Daniel Dickinson

Despite the virtual nature of the debate, UN security officers have continued to ensure that the UN premises and the essential staff who have been hard at work there for the General Debate, and throughout the pandemic, remain safe. Image credit: UN photo: Mark Garten

The normally bustling corridors of the United Nations are eerily calm as the world’s leaders and diplomats have stayed at home because of the pandemic. Up to 40 per cent of staff have recently returned to the UN campus in Midtown New York, adapting to the new normal of working during this once-in-a-century pandemic.The normally bustling corridors of the United Nations are eerily calm as the world’s leaders and diplomats have stayed at home because of the pandemic. Image credit: UN Photo: Mark Garten

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