World leaders to address special session of UN General Assembly on COVID-19

WION Web Team
United Nations Published: Dec 03, 2020, 08:13 AM(IST)

A file photo of logo of United Nations. Photograph:( AFP )

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Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the special session on coronavirus and the best path to recovery from the pandemic.

The special session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to COVID-19 will take place on December 3 and 4 at the UN Headquarters.

Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the special session on coronavirus and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor.

Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, to this end, said, "With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right."

"The world is looking to the UN for leadership. This is a test for multilateralism. When financial markets collapsed and the world faced its last great crisis in 2008, major powers worked together to restore the global economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been striking for the opposite response: no leader, no united action to stop the pandemic that has circled the globe," he added.

The two-day special session will not be raising money to finance vaccine immunisations or taking any political action, and there will be no final declaration, just a summary document from Bozkir.

Leaders and ministers from over 140 countries will deliver pre-recorded speeches on Thursday after an in-person opening in the General Assembly including speeches by Bozkir and Guterres. 

Among the leaders slated to address the session are French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and European Union chief Charles Michel. The United States will be represented by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Friday's session will focus on three virtual panels, the first on the UN's response to COVID-19 and the second on vaccines that will include representatives from producers BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca, and the World Health Organization's ACT-Accelerator which is working to get vaccines to the world's poorest people.

The final panel is on recovery from COVID-19. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is expected to participate in all three panels.

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said secretary-general Antonio Guterres will be focussing on the need for all countries and people everywhere to have access to vaccines.

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