The President of the UN General Assembly on Monday said world leaders would not gather in person for the opening session of the 75th Assembly in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambassador Tijani Muhammad-Bande, who is the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, stated this during a virtual news conference in New York on Monday.
Muhammad-Bande said it would not be possible for Heads of States and Governments to gather for the annual event in New York as travel restrictions and other measures would likely still be in place by then.
This, according to him, is particularly so as leaders of the UN member states normally travel with their delegations to the largest diplomatic assembly in the world.
He said the general debate, where leaders highlight their foreign policies, would still hold but through means that would be decided by member states in the coming weeks.
He said: “World leaders cannot come to New York because they cannot come as individuals; a president does not travel alone, and we do not therefore expect their presence here.
“We do not know what the medical advice would be from the country and the host city; host governments are very important in terms of what is possible.
“It is my hope that within two weeks, we will have clarity as to the mechanics and formats of the general debate presentations.”
Muhammad-Bande said he could not immediately provide the specifics of the formats as the decision would be taken by member states during consultations.
The PGA’s remarks came a month as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres suggested that the high-level meeting be held through pre-recorded video messages.