Thursday, September 23

Nearly 100 world leaders, including PM Imran Khan, to speak at landmark UN session on coronavirus


UNITED NATIONS: Nearly 100 world leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, are set to address the U.N. General Assembly’s two-day special session, which opens Thursday, on the response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and forge a united path forward to better recovery, including access to a vaccine.

The pandemic has claimed 1.5 million live worldwide, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in developed and developing countries.

According to the speakers list, there are 141 speakers inscribed, including 53 Heads of State, 39 Heads of Government, 4 Deputy Prime Ministers and 38 Ministers. They will address the session through pre-recorded videos.

Among the leaders slated to address the session on Dec. 3 and 4 are French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and European Union chief Charles Michel. The United States will be represented by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

PM Imran Khan will speech will be broadcast on Thursday around 5 pm (New York time– 3 a.m PST Friday).

Earlier, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram will speak in his capacity as president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The first day — Dec. 3 — will include an opening segment with statements by the General Assembly President, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, presidents of ECOSOC and Security Council, and the Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

This will be followed by messages from world leaders on their experiences in fighting the pandemic and the needs in addressing COVID-19 moving forward.

The second day, December 4, will feature a presentation from the Director-General of the World Health Organization and three moderated panel discussions covering the health and humanitarian response, vaccine development and socio-economic recovery.

Moderated by UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming, BBC Chief International Correspondent and Senior Presenter Lyse Doucet and international journalist Femi Oke, the panel discussions will include key UN officials leading the organization’s response and recovery efforts, as well as speakers from the private sector and civil society.

This includes leading scientists and manufacturers, whose work on vaccines have raised hopes worldwide.

Member States will engage in dialogue with participants to jointly take stock of the current response, identify policy and operation gaps, and forge a united, coordinated, and people-centered path forward.

The special session will not be raising money to finance vaccine immunizations or taking any political action, and there will be no final declaration, just a summary document from Bozkir.

“The real point of this special is to galvanize concrete action to approach our response to COVID-19 in a multilateral and collective way,” General Assembly President’s spokesman Brenden Varma said Wednesday.

He added that there are currently many responses to the pandemic, but what’s needed now is to bring together all countries, U.N. actors, the private sector and vaccine developers.

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