PM Modi expected to address annual UNGA session in person on Sept 25: provisional list

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the annual high-level UN General Assembly session in person on September 25, according to a provisional list of speakers released by the UN.

The list and schedule are subject to changes and the presence of world leaders in the United Nations headquarters here for the high-level annual session will significantly depend on the global COVID19 situation, particularly as the highly transmissible Delta variant rages in the US as well as across other UN member nations.

According to the first provisional list of speakers for the General Debate at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, Modi is scheduled to speak at the high-level session on the morning of September 25, the first leader listed for the day.

In 2019, Modi travelled to New York for the high-level UN General Assembly session.

Last year, world leaders, including Modi, submitted pre-recorded video statements for the United Nations General Assembly session in September, as heads of state and government could not physically attend the annual gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the first time in the UN’s 75-year history that the high-level session had gone virtual. This year too, the option has been kept open for the world leaders to send in pre-recorded statements since the pandemic continues to rage across several nations around the world.

The General Debate begins on September 21 and US President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the session in person, his first address to the world organisation as the American leader.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian leader Scott Morrison are also listed to address the General Debate in person on September 24.

With leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States expected to attend the General Assembly session in person, it is highly likely that the Quad Leaders’ Summit could take place in September around the UNGA.

The US, India, Australia and Japan had in 2017 given shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China’s aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The first Leaders’ Summit was held in March 2021 virtually.

Senior officials from the four nations met virtually on Thursday as part of regular Quad consultations and “they welcomed the opportunity to continue regular consultations at the ministerial, senior official, and working levels and to hold a second Leaders’ Summit this fall,” the US State Department said Thursday.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade of Australia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Department of State of the United States “look forward to continuing regular consultations and the next Foreign Ministers’ Meeting later this year.”

So far, 167 Heads of State and Heads of Government and 29 Ministers and diplomats are scheduled to address the UN General Debate that will run through September 27.

About 40 leaders are listed to address the high-level session through pre-recorded statements, including Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Nepal.

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly will begin on September 14. Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid will be President of the year-long session.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told reporters on Thursday that holding of the General Assembly every year in the UN is a partnership between the United Nations, the host city, the host government, because people that come here don’t all come into the building. They’re also in New York City and so on.

“So, our host country, the host city will have whatever regulations they may have in place by September,” he said, adding that there will be an update on health requirements in the UN headquarters regarding vaccination, mask-wearing.

That is being decided at this point. We also need to have a dialogue with member states. As you well know, the Secretary-General has more direct authority over those that he pays, like the staff, than the 193 member states in this organisation.

“All of that to say that the Secretary-General is determined to have the safest possible General Assembly,” Dujarric said, adding that Guterres has shown, right from the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, a very cautious approach to public health and to the way the United Nations works.

“So, we are part of this New York City community, and we want to be as safe as possible,” he said.

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