United Nations General Assembly kicks off in New York – rts.ch

A hundred leaders are expected this Monday afternoon in New York, despite fears related to Covid-19, for the UN Annual General Assembly. Its leader António Guterres wants to launch a “cry of alarm” in the face of the “very dangerous situation” of the world.

“We must restore confidence. The current geostrategic division in the world is an obstacle,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. The world is “really in a very dangerous situation” and it “takes a cry of alarm to wake up the politicians”.

American Joe Biden, Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Briton Boris Johnson, Israeli Naftali Bennett and Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro are among the personalities who announced their arrival. But not French President Emmanuel Macron, his entourage explaining his renunciation by the health restrictions.

Switzerland will be represented by its president Guy Parmelin and its federal adviser in charge of foreign affairs, Ignazio Cassis. With the two men in sight for Switzerland’s seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2023-2024 (read box).


Host country, the United States fears that the meeting does not become a “super-propagating event” of the coronavirus, recognized their ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Washington “discouraged the heads of state and government of other countries from coming for reasons related to Covid”, specifies Antonio Guterres.

Last year, the diplomatic high mass had been mainly virtual, the quarantine imposed by the United States having deterred travel. “We could not start over”, “we must demonstrate that the UN exists”, plead ambassadors.

Strict rules

Strict conditions have been established: mask and distancing, seven people maximum per delegation on the UN site, and bilateral meetings reduced to the maximum. New York City has warned it will require proof of vaccination from delegates.

“Everyone is afraid, it will be a fair,” worries a UN official on condition of anonymity. Basically, “the big countries do not come to see each other, it is the small ones who come to see the big ones”, summarizes this person in charge.

Russia and China will only be represented by a government member. A small investment intended to show “in Washington that the coming to power of Joe Biden has little impact on their positions,” said Richard Gowan, of the International Crisis Group think tank.

According to him, the American president will want to emphasize “the need to protect a world order led by the United States against Chinese competition”. And call on its allies to “not consider China as an alternative leader in the multilateral system”.

Covid and climate

The fight against global warming and against the Covid-19 pandemic, the subjects of two summits on Monday and Wednesday respectively, will be at the heart of the discussions, such as the Iranian and Libyan issues.

“We are going in the wrong direction in all areas. It is absolutely unacceptable that there are countries where 80% of the population is vaccinated and countries where 2% of the population is vaccinated”, denounces Antonio Guterres.

The economic recovery is also “unfair, so inequitable”, and it “creates a division between North and South” which is already appearing in the climate fight “.

>> Read: Climate can’t wait for pandemic to end, scientists say


Falling back into the hands of the Taliban, Afghanistan will be at the center of multiple discussions, to defend women’s rights and prevent the country from sinking into economic and humanitarian crisis.

>> Read: Taliban replace Women’s Ministry with Vice Prevention and The UN denounces the violence of the Taliban regime against Afghan opponents

Speculation continues as to who will speak on behalf of Afghanistan, precisely, but also Burma, led by a military junta unrecognized by the international community, or Guinea, the scene of a recent coup. These three countries are listed at the end of the debate, on September 27, but the option of the empty chair could prevail.

ats / sjaq

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