Word leaders to address high-level, special session of UN General Assembly on COVID-19 pandemic
United Nations: World leaders, the top leadership of the UN and vaccine developers will address a two-day, special session of the UN General Assembly on COVID-19 this week and discuss the pandemic’s impact as well as the multi-faceted, coordinated response required to address the greatest global health crisis in decades.
The Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic will take place on December 3 and 4 at the UN Headquarters.
The world organisation said government leaders, United Nations’ principals and other relevant stakeholders would be able to engage in dialogue on the impact of the pandemic on people, societies and economies and discuss the multi-faceted, coordinated response required to address this crisis.
Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla will also address the session through a pre-recorded video on December 4.
BioNTech co-founders Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, vaccine team leader at Oxford University Sarah Gilbert and Chief Executive Officer of GAVI (the vaccine alliance) Seth Berkley will address the special session virtually.
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are working on a COVID-19 vaccine, while global drugmaker Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate is 95 per cent effective.
World leaders expected to address the session are Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, French President Emmanuel Macron, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
President Donald Trump is not listed as a speaker for the session and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will address the high-level meeting.
The two-day special session will allow many stakeholders to share their experiences in fighting the pandemic, reflect on the global response to date, and forge a united, coordinated, and people-centered path forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 1.3 million lives and infected more than 54 million people globally, “is not only the greatest global health crisis since the creation of the United Nations 75 years ago, it is also a humanitarian, socio-economic, security and human rights crisis,” the world body said.
The session’s first day will feature statements by the President of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of the Security Council for the month of December South African Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila and Chair of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev. The General Assembly will then hear from world leaders.
According to the speakers list, there are 141 speakers inscribed, including 53 heads of state, 39 heads of government, four deputy prime ministers and 38 ministers.
The second day will feature speeches from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other UN and inter-governmental agencies.
Bozkir’s Spokesperson Brenden Varma, replying to a question on whether it was far too late to hold the special session on COVID-19, said the President of the General Assembly agrees that it is already too late to have this meeting, which should have been held in the summer as the coronavirus cases were rapidly increasing across the world.
Varma said member states have come together and decided to hold this special session on COVID-19. “And the point of this is to recommit to multilateralism,” he said.
Currently there are a lot of responses to COVID-19, but the point of the session is to bring countries together, along with UN actors, the private sector and vaccine developers to work together to see “where we are, to take stock and to identify gaps and challenges and then to move forward together so we have a unified response that actually makes sense and that can actually combat this pandemic,” he said.