The President, United Nations General Assembly, Amb. Muhammad-Bande, on Tuesday, submitted a proposal on how to hold the 2020 high-level week amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Muhammad-Bande, in a letter to member countries, suggested that the annual event should hold in September as usual but in a different format.
“In preparation for the high-level week of the 75th session of the General Assembly, I sought the advice of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), the local authorities, the host government, the UN Medical Director and consult with the Member States.
“Based on these exchanges, I surmise that the limitations on international travel and convening of large in-person meetings as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, may, in varying degrees, still be in effect in September.
“As we contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should, in accordance with our common commitment to the values and principles set out in the UN Charter, strive to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of the important work of the General Assembly.
“Thus, the Assembly should consider holding the General Debate and the high-level meetings scheduled for September in a different format,” he said.
Muhammad-Bande outlined 20 elements for consideration for the annual event, which usually holds between Sept. 22 and Sept. 29.
One of them was the limitation of physical presence in the General Assembly Hall for the General Debate to one or two New York-based delegates per country depending on the situation.
He suggested that persons to be physically present in the General Assembly Hall should be free of COVID-19 symptoms.
In addition, delegates should be made to maintain the recommended physical distancing and to wear face-covering within the premises at all times.
The PGA also proposed that Heads of State and Government or ministers representing member countries should address the General Debate via pre-recorded video statements.
To this end, a video statement by one of these high-ranking officials should be submitted by each country to the UN secretariat in New York through their permanent mission.
As an alternative, he suggested that countries could deliver their statements through their permanent representatives in the General Assembly Hall.
“Similar arrangements would be made for the high-level meeting of the Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN scheduled to hold on Sept. 21,” he suggested.
Other recommendations include movement of all side events by member states to virtual platforms to reduce the number of people in the UN building.
“Member States will be encouraged to publish all these virtual side-events in the Journal of the United Nations, under the ‘Other Events’ section,” he said.
The General Assembly announced a virtual meeting of member states for Friday to discover the proposals.