Amid the unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus, the annual United Nations General Assembly is “unlikely” to take place with mass gathering in New York in September. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said in an interview with a French magazine that he is currently looking at “various alternatives” that are possible by using digital technology which will enable the participation of all member states. According to reports, many UN officials have already assumed that the meeting, which would mark 75th anniversary of the peace-keeping body, will most probably be held through a videoconference.
One of UN envoys told an international news agency that proceedings in the meeting are going to be “atypical, hybrid, different” and added that it would be “much lighter in terms of physical presence”. The ambassador who spoke on the condition of anonymity also said that he could not foresee how the UN would be able to host the huge gathering in Manhattan because of the ongoing crisis of the pandemic. Since March, New York has been subjected to strict anti-virus measures and has also emerged as one of the hotspots of coronavirus in the United States.
Even though the UN headquarters remains open for very few people, the officials have mainly resorted to teleworking including the Security Council and the General Assembly to continue hosting discussions over videoconferences. These working conditions which were introduced earlier in a bid to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease, have now been extended until the end of June. The UNGA conference in 2020 is scheduled to take place from September 15 and the session that would feature the speeches from world leaders would start on September 22.
According to reports the annual UNGA meet is the largest diplomatic gathering in the world and constitutes hundreds of sideline events along with both bilateral and multilateral meetings among leaders. The conference has never been cancelled since Un was founded in 1945. However, it has been postponed twice, once in 1964 amid financial crisis within the organisation and then in 2001 after attacks in New York.