PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

CITIES & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CAN HELP TRANSLATE ASSEMBLY’S VISION INTO REALITY

  • This morning the President delivered virtual remarks to the Opening Session of the United Cities and Local Governments World Council. He said it was through local governments and cities that the General Assembly could translate its global vision into reality.
  • He added that COVID-19 had brought problems and inequalities in city planning and management to the forefront. But cities and local governments could turn the crisis into an opportunity to build back better.

PRESIDENT DISCUSSES BIODIVERSITY WITH U.N. AMBASSADORS

  • This morning the President held his second Morning Dialogue with UN ambassadors.
  • The topic was: “Biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Goals”.
  • Eight Permanent Representatives participated.

ASSEMBLY ADOPTS DECISION-MAKING PROCEDURE FOR WHEN IN-PERSON MEETINGS NOT POSSIBLE

  • No meetings in the General Assembly plenary had been planned for today because of Diwali.
  • But yesterday’s meeting took longer than expected, and action on the relevant draft decision and amendment therefore took place this morning.
  • By a vote of 123 in favor to 19 against with 29 abstentions, the Assembly decided that — in the most exceptional circumstances – it would be able to adopt decisions by silence procedure and e-voting. This would be when an in-person meeting was not possible for a prolonged period of time, because of concrete and ongoing risks to the safety and well-being of UN delegates and staff.
  • That decision was introduced by Liechtenstein on behalf of a group of Member States. It was cosponsored by more than forty delegations.
  • The Assembly rejected a draft amendment to that decision by a vote of 33 in favor to 86 against with 42 abstentions.
  • The draft amendment had been introduced by Cuba on behalf of a group of Member States. It would have limited this procedure to only essential draft decisions and resolutions – including those related to budgets, extending mandates and rescheduling and postponing meetings.
  • Asked when the General Assembly would hold its first meeting under this new procedure, the Spokesperson said the new procedure would only come into play in the most exceptional circumstances and when an in-person meeting was not possible for a prolonged period of time, because of concrete risks to UN delegates and staff.
  • The Spokesperson added that we were currently not at that point. As of now, General Assembly meetings and action, including voting, were still taking place in person.