UN explores options for General Assembly session, can't be 'business as usual' due to COVID-19: Official
The UN is commemorating its 75th anniversary this year and the General Assembly session, held annually in September, brings world leaders, ministers and diplomats from 193 Member States to New York.
UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is exploring various options to hold the annual high-level General Assembly session in September as it cannot be "business as usual" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a top UN official has said.
The UN is commemorating its 75th anniversary this year and the General Assembly session, held annually in September, brings world leaders, ministers and diplomats from 193 Member States to New York and the UN headquarters along with the media and thousands of civil society members.
New York is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.
A total of 343,051 COVID-19 cases and more than 27,000 deaths have been reported in the state.
Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday that the UN chief had stated that different options were being looked at on what format the General Assembly will take this year.
The decisions will be made by the Member States.
The Secretary General and the Secretariat will support the Member States in implementing whatever decision they take, he said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is "obvious that we're not going to have business as usual in September, whether it's the General Assembly or other activities in our professional and personal lives," he said.
Dujarric was responding to a question on Guterres being misquoted in an interview as saying that the high-level General Assembly session scheduled for September was unlikely to happen.
"What the Secretary General said was an obvious answer of common sense, that it's hard to imagine that the traditional General Assembly with thousands and thousands of people descending on New York and on the UN compound can be held this September as if nothing happened," he said.
He said the UN chief's remarks were taken a bit out of context.
On whether the high-level week of the UN General Assembly will proceed this year, spokesperson for President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Reem Abaza said this month that discussions were underway with the UN medical director and the local authorities.
"But having these meetings depends on many elements. Some of them will be the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. And the other thing is the ability of the local authorities to receive all the high level delegations. So the discussions are ongoing," she said.
The novel coronavirus which originated from China's Wuhan city in December has killed 302,462 people and infected over 4.4 million worldwide.
The US is the worst affected country with over 80,000 deaths reported in the country.