Covid-19: New UN General Assembly president wants November pandemic meeting

The former Turkish minister, who officially took office at the opening of the 75th annual session of the UN, said that the special meeting of the assembly dedicated to the pandemic is scheduled for “the first week of November”.

The date is however contested by several diplomats, who considered it too early for the meeting, at a time when the world, and in particular the United States, continues to struggle to halt the spread of the disease, according to the news agency France-Presse (AFP).

For that reason, according to the same sources, negotiations are now underway for the first week of December, AFP said.

For Volkan Bozkir, who is in favor of resuming the face-to-face meetings at the UN, held since March mainly by videoconference, this session on the pandemic should have already taken place “in June”.

“As long as health conditions permit, I intend to hold face-to-face meetings at the General Assembly,” he added, pointing out that physical presence is important.

“In our role [de diplomatas], there is no alternative to face-to-face meetings to build a long-term understanding of each other’s positions and forge commitments ”, he stressed.

Next week, Bozkir will chair the annual meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly, in mostly virtual format, with heads of state delivering pre-recorded speeches and the physical presence of a diplomat from each member state.

During the opening of the annual meeting, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, considered that 2021 will be “a critical year” for the United Nations, defending the need to strengthen “health systems”.

Before diplomats from 193 UN member countries, Guterres warned against the risks of unilateralism in combating the pandemic and called for a new commitment to global cooperation, which would also allow fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.

In his farewell speech to the post of President of the UN General Assembly, Nigerian Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said that the new coronavirus showed the need to deepen multilateral cooperation in the health sector.

The work of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly began on Tuesday in New York and is expected to continue until September 22.

This is the first time in the organization’s history that the meeting is held in virtual format, because of the current pandemic crisis.

The covid-19 pandemic has already claimed at least 929,391 deaths and more than 29.3 million cases of infection in 196 countries and territories, according to a report by the French agency AFP.

After Europe succeeded China as the center of the pandemic in February, the American continent is now the one with the most confirmed cases and the most deaths.

PTA // EJ

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