UN chief suggests world leaders submit videos for annual meeting

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres suggested that world leaders send video statements to the world body because it is highly unlikely that they will be able to travel to NY during the pandemic.

NY is an epicenter for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus that has infected more than 4.8 million people and killed over 319,000 globally. The US death toll has surpassed 90,000.

In a letter to the president of the 193-member UN General Assembly on Monday, Guterres suggested a different format be considered for the 75th annual gathering "such as using pre-recorded messages provided by heads of state and government or ministers, with physical presence in the General Assembly Hall limited to one delegate per delegation based in NY ."

Guterres said that while another option would be to postpone the high-level meeting until 2021, he believed it would be better if world leaders could make their remarks in September.

It would also allow the organization's work to continue, albeit in a different format, and for world leaders to convey their views on important international issues, including the international response to the pandemic, as well as listen to the views of other leaders, Guterres wrote.

Ultimately, the decision on how to hold the meeting of world leaders will be made by the 193 UN member states. Hundreds of other events are also normally held during the weeklong meeting in September, but diplomats say they will be canceled this year.

The UN General Assembly and the 15-member Security Council have been operating virtually for two months. It is likely to continue until at least the end of June.

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