– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

12 June 2020

 

Excellencies,

Thank you for your participation in this virtual meeting and for your commitment to ensuring a successful High-Level Week in this landmark year for the United Nations.

As I outlined in my letter dated 9 June 2020, based on the advice of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Local Authorities, the Host Government, the Acting Medical Director of the United Nation, and in consultation with Member States, I surmised that the limitations on international travel and convening of large in-person meetings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, may  still be in effect in September.

Thus, the Assembly should consider holding the General Debate and the high-level meetings scheduled for September 2020 in a different format in order to proceed with the guidance usually expressed by national leaders during the General Debate.

In this regard, I circulated in my letter a paper outlining some elements for consideration for the high-level week of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly.

I propose that the President of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of the United Nations would be present in the General Assembly Hall on the 22 September to facilitate the PGA delivering an opening statement and the Secretary-General’s presentation of the report on the work of the Organization.

Heads of State and Government or Ministers would be invited to address the General Debate via pre-recorded video statements. The list of speakers would be managed as per usual practice for the General Debate.

In accordance with social and physical distancing guidelines, physical presence of delegations in the General Assembly Hall would be limited to at one delegate from each New York-based delegation to attend the General Debate.

This may be extended to two delegates, if possible. In addition, all persons present would be requested to wear a face covering at all times.

Similar arrangements would be put in place for the high-level meetings; including the high-level meeting to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, scheduled to take place on 21 September 2020.

As we work to prepare for a successful High-Level Week, let us emulate the founders of our Organisation and practice creativity and flexibility. Now is the time to re-affirm our shared values as set out in the Charter of the United Nations: 

 “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly

Taking into account operational limitations to hold parallel meetings, Member States may wish to consider revising the schedule for high-level meetings, namely:

  1. the Summit on Biodiversity to be held on Wednesday, 30th September;
  2. the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the twenty-fifth (25th) anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, to be held on Thursday 1st October;
  3. the high-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons to be held on Friday, 2nd October 2020.

If these proposals are agreeable to the Membership, we will need to address several procedural matters. A decision of the General Assembly authorizing pre-recorded video statement in the General Debate and the high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations to be admissible as part of official records of the General Assembly.

The Membership would also need to request the President of the General Assembly to finalize the organizational arrangements of the three high-level meetings to allow for the use of virtual platforms and pre-recorded video statements and messages.

Excellencies,

Throughout high-level week proceedings will be streamed live on UN WebTV, as per usual practice to ensure wide engagement with Capital-based colleagues and the people we serve.

All statements made in any of the six official languages of the United Nations will be interpreted into the other five languages.

In addition, we will work to facilitate the meaningful participation of civil society in line with the mandate of the Membership.

The continued support of the Secretariat will be critical to the success of high-level week. I once again extend my gratitude to the Secretariat for its tireless work and commitment to innovative working methods to ensure our work continues during these challenging times. Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management Movses Abelian will also deliver remarks today.

I look forward to hearing your views on the elements put forth for your consideration. My Office stands ready to serve the Membership, and undertake preparations for this seminal high-level week in earnest. Following the election of the President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly, I will also engage with the President-elect who will preside over High-Level Week.

Excellencies,

As we work to prepare for a successful High-Level Week, let us emulate the founders of our Organisation and practice creativity and flexibility. Now is the time to re-affirm our shared values as set out in the Charter of the United Nations,

 “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”.

I thank you.