UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN General Assembly relies on an honor system, and only an honor system, to ensure world leaders have been vaccinated before speaking at next week’s big gathering, he said. the president of the assembly.
Presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and other dignitaries will not have to show vaccination cards or other proof of inoculation; They will simply attest to it by swiping their ID cards in the assembly hall, GA President Abdulla Shahid said in a letter Thursday. The assembly began testing the same policy in June for diplomats in its daily meetings.
Still, it could quickly raise thorny questions at the largest global diplomatic gathering of the year. Russia has criticized the requirement, and the first speaker, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, is not vaccinated and reiterated Thursday that he does not plan to receive the vaccine anytime soon.
The UN has been wrestling with how to diplomatically implement a New York City vaccination requirement for convention centers, which the city said last week would apply to the assembly hall. Shahid told members Tuesday that he supported the policy but did not elaborate on how it would work.
“We hope that this solution will be acceptable to all, within the limits of everyone’s responsibilities and status,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
A message sent to the office of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was not immediately returned. He has said that the city’s goal is to protect both assembly attendees and New Yorkers from the virus.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the assembly’s annual high-level meeting to leave almost entirely virtual last year.
Leaders seem to have missed the opportunity to interact face to face: More than 100 heads of state and government and more than 20 foreign ministers I have signed up to speak in person this time. Other nations are virtually participating in the meeting’s central event, a festival of speeches where each country has the opportunity to weigh in on global issues, highlight domestic issues, and use the world stage to woo allies or attack enemies.
By tradition, the first is Brazil, where the right-wing president has insisted that he will not be vaccinated for the meeting.
Why take the vaccine? Have antibodies, right? My antibody levels are very high, ”Bolsonaro said in a live broadcast on social media Thursday night. “After everyone in Brazil is vaccinated, I will decide.”
About 36% of Brazil’s population is vaccinated, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data.
While the leaders of many countries have disclosed their vaccination status, some have not. Among them is Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who also plans to attend the assembly.
Russia complained earlier this week that requiring vaccines would violate nations’ rights to participate in the UN and would discriminate, for example, against people with medical reasons for not receiving vaccines.
A message was sent to the Russian UN mission on Friday about the honor system plan.
Associated Press journalists David Biller in Rio de Janeiro and Hau Dinh in Hanoi, Vietnam, contributed to this report.