The UN celebrates the organization’s 75th anniversary on Monday. But the spirit is not at the party: the heads of state meet practically to discuss Covid’s health crisis and the many diplomatic challenges. Reportage.
No major burning speech is expected this year on the UN platform. To celebrate 75e UN anniversary, heads of state around the world have to settle for a virtual meeting on Monday, September 21, due to the health crisis.
In the giant UN building, only the sound of escalators resonates. “If it were a normal opening day for the General Assembly, 2,500 people would pass through these doors,” lamented Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General. All seats would be occupied, including on balconies and some should remain. I have been here for 20 years and every time you feel electricity in the air, magic with the presence of all these heads of state and government. And this time, we will not have. “
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There will still be Donald Trump’s long-awaited speech. Two years ago, his offensive speech with nationalism did not fail the spirits. “This year, he really intensified his aggressive diplomacy against the multilateral system and led a fight against his allies such as France or Britain over sanctions against Iran,” said Richard Gowan, director general of the United Nations.
In the desolate and disinfected building, General Secretary Antonio Guterres remains one of the few people we meet. On his shoulders, the weight of an unprecedented global health crisis and growing hostility from influential members.
Antonio Guterresa told Reuters that the pandemic has exposed global vulnerabilities. He plans to tell heads of state that they need to work together in a context of multilateral challenges and a lack of solutions.
The 15 members of the Security Council have taken months to support Guterre’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire in favor of the fight against coronavirus, especially due to rivalries between China and the United States.
The 193 member states of the General Assembly only adopted a compendium of resolutions on a “comprehensive response” to the pandemic earlier this month, but failed to reach agreement, as the United States and Israel opposed it.
A $ 10.3 billion (€ 8.7 billion) fundraiser to help the most vulnerable and needy countries has so far raised only a quarter of the funding needed. Guterres is now working to make access to a vaccine against the virus available to everyone.
According to a senior European diplomat who requested anonymity, the General Assembly should have acted months ago, but “Covid-19 beat us all and slowed down”.
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