The United States has urged more than 150 countries planning to consider giving a video address at the annual meet instead of sending their government’s leader to New York to address the assembly in person at the U.N. General Assembly next month. The US is hoping that fewer leaders attend the assembly to prevent it from becoming “a super-spreader event.” The U.S. Mission sent a note to other 192-member nation ns and also urged for other U.N.-hosted meetings to be virtual. The note said that such meetings in New York “needlessly increase the risk to our community, New Yorkers and the other travellers.”
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. note said that Biden’s administration has shown concern regarding the scheduled presence of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the incoming General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid. These two will be hosting high-level events on climate change, vaccines, the 20th anniversary of the U.N. World Conference Against Racism, food systems and energy. The note said, “The United States is willing to make every effort to make these important events on shared priorities successful in a virtual format.” The U.N. sent a notification in July to inform the world leaders that they can attend their annual gathering in person or can deliver a pre-recorded speech, in case COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from travelling. The annual meet is known as the General Debate and will be hosted from September 21-27. The note by the United States said, “we strongly feel that the General Debate should be the only event held with in-person participation during high-level week. In light of current health concerns, heads of delegation should consider delivering their statements to the U.N. General Assembly’s General Debate by video. If delegations choose to travel to New York for the General Debate, the United States requests delegations bring the minimum number of travellers necessary.”
A provisional list of speakers contains 127 heads of state and government who are planning to attend in person. Those world leaders include U.S. President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, the UK’s Boris Johnson, Israel’s Naftali Bennett and India’s Narendra Modi. The list also contains 26 other government ministers like Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and China’s Deputy Premier Han Zheng. There are 38 leaders who have confirmed that they will not be attending. Leaders like presidents of Iran, Egypt and Indonesia will not be attending the event. Afghanistan's former president, Ashraf Ghani, was scheduled to travel to New York as well, but his government was forced out of the county by the Taliban.