Saturday, September 23, 2023

UN General Assembly meetings postponed amid COVID-19 pandemic

The UN General Assembly meetings scheduled for the next few months have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the member states are holding discussions on how to proceed with the high-level annual UNGA session in September, a senior official has said.

The office of the President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly said that it has been decided to postpone the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, scheduled to take place in Kyoto, Japan, from April 20 to 27, until further notice.

The 4th Conference of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, 2020, has been postponed to a period in 2021 to be decided by the General Assembly at its next session. The conference was scheduled to be held at United Nations Headquarters on April 24.


The 2020 United Nations ‘Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’ has also been postponed to a later date to be decided by the General Assembly. The Conference was scheduled to be held in Lisbon in June.

The ‘Interactive dialogue on Harmony with Nature’, originally scheduled for April 22, has been cancelled.


Deputy spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq was asked at the virtual press briefing on Monday if there were discussions about the possible postponement or shortening the format of the annual high-level General Assembly session in September.

“I think this is a discussion that is happening right now at the member state level. We’ll have to see what the member states want to achieve on this,” Haq said, adding that the UN Secretariat is providing information on health aspects in New York to member states.

“There’s nothing to announce at this stage. And it’s, I think, a little bit early in the day to announce what’s going to happen, but we do expect these discussions will continue,” he said.

Earlier this month, president of the 74th session of UN General Assembly (PGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande had decided to postpone the GA meetings scheduled for April and May “in light of the updated guidance severely limiting in-person meetings, as a result of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.”

Muhammad-Bande had decided to postpone the plenary meeting for the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, scheduled for May 6, the High-level thematic debate to take stock of progress on the impact of rapid technological change on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, scheduled for May 11 and the informal interactive dialogue on commodity markets, scheduled for May 22.

All in-person meetings of General Assembly mandated processes, scheduled to be held between April 17 and the end of May also stand cancelled.

Earlier last month, as the number of coronavirus cases began to gradually soar across New York City, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said that “it is very likely” that the COVID-19 situation “will have an impact of some sort on the General Assembly, but I think it’s too early to tell and to give any more details at this point.”

Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has killed 119,666 people and infected almost two million people, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The United States recorded 1,509 deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic over the past 24 hours, the data showed.

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