UNITED NATIONS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 14th September, 2021) The new 76th session of the UN General Assembly begins on Tuesday with many world leaders set to travel to New York City to participate in person despite the global spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus.
Unlike the General Assembly in 2020, which saw no high-level officials attending the event, instead submitting pre-recorded video messages for the General debate, the gathering this year will welcome at least 83 heads of state, according to the outgoing President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir.
The UN Secretariat still decided to limit the number of members in each delegation to six to reduce the footprint at the headquarters complex in Midtown Manhattan. Last year, only one delegate from each mission was permitted to enter the UN General Assembly hall.
Mandatory vaccination for all staff working in the building, a mask-wearing requirement, switching many meetings on sidelines to virtual formats and allowing only resident reporters to cover the event are some of the measures to be enforced throughout the UN premises.
"All the delegates that are coming in have also been reminded that basically to do anything in New York City, you need to be vaccinated," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, referring to the city's mandate that requires to have proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, coffee shops, museums, movie theaters, gyms and many other indoor settings.
The US Mission to the United Nations, in a letter circulated on August 19, encouraged the rest 192 diplomatic missions to consider having their representatives deliver statements by video instead of traveling to New York City to prevent a "super spreader event."
Top leaders of all of Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, India, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Venezuela will take part in the assembly in person. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will lead Russia's delegations and deliver remarks from the podium on September 25.
In a repeat of last year's gesture, North Korea will not send an official to attend the General debate, and the country's Ambassador to the United Nations will most likely speak from the General Assembly podium.
The list of speakers suggested that Afghanistan, Guinea and Myanmar, all of which saw their democratically elected governments toppled this year, will be represented by the appointees of the previous authorities with no remarks as to the regime changes.