UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United States urges the more than 150 countries that plan to send their leader or a government minister to New York to speak in person at the UN General Assembly next month and consider giving an address on video. instead to avoid the annual meeting. high-level week to become “a super spreader event”.
A note from the US Mission sent to the other 192 UN member countries also called for all other meetings and side events organized by the UN to be virtual, saying that these side meetings that attract travelers to New York “increase. unnecessarily putting our community, New Yorkers and other travelers at risk. “
The US memo, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, said the Biden administration is particularly concerned that Secretary General Antonio Guterres and incoming President of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid are hosting high-level in-person events. on climate change, vaccines, the 20th anniversary of the United Nations World Conference against Racism, food systems and energy.
“The United States is willing to do everything possible to make these important events on shared priorities successful in a virtual format,” the note said.
The UN decided in late July to allow world leaders to attend its annual meeting, known as the General Debate, from September 21-27 in person, or deliver prerecorded speeches if COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from traveling.
A provisional list of speakers obtained by the AP has 127 heads of state and government planning to attend in person, including United States President Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron of France, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, as well as Prime Ministers Boris Johnson of Great Britain and Israel. Naftali Bennett and Narendra Modi of India, and 26 other government ministers, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Han Zheng.
Among the 38 leaders planning prerecorded statements are the presidents of Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. The list has Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani coming to New York, but it’s dated August 13, just before the Taliban toppled his government and he fled the country.
The United States said it feels “strongly that the General Debate should be the only event held with in-person participation during the high-level week.”
“In light of current health concerns, heads of delegation should consider presenting their statements at the UN General Assembly General Debate via video,” he said. “If delegations choose to travel to New York for the General Debate, the United States asks delegations to bring the minimum number of travelers necessary.”
The United States said the COVID-19 pandemic “continues to pose a significant health risk around the world,” with the virulence of the delta variant affecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated people and hospitalizations increasing significantly in the United States. .
“All the counties in New York City are currently classified as having the highest level of community transmission,” says the US note.
For people arriving at the UN headquarters, he said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the mandatory use of masks at all times, six feet of social distance, fixed seats, state COVID-19 negative confirmed to enter the building, “and if vaccination is possible.” It will also be necessary to trace contacts for UN meetings, he said.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said late Wednesday that the UN has already implemented a number of measures to deal with the delta variant, including mandatory wearing of masks at UN headquarters and notification of the state of vaccination and positive tests for COVID-19. It also has mandatory vaccination requirements for some staff members, including those serving intergovernmental meetings before the high-level week, he said.
Dujarric said there will be no face-to-face side events at the UN compound during the high-level week, but did not mention the high-level events on climate change, food systems, racism and other issues.
“Obviously, we are in continuous talks with the member states, who will have to make decisions, and the host country,” Dujarric said. “The secretary general will continue to focus on keeping everyone safe in the UN community.”