UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general is recommending the annual gathering of world leaders in late September be dramatically scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Antonio Guterres suggested heads of state and government deliver prerecorded messages instead, with only one New York-based diplomat from each of the 193 U.N. member nations present in the General Assembly Hall.
The meeting of world leaders in New York usually brings thousands of people for more than a week of speeches, lunches, dinners, receptions, one-on-one meetings and hundreds of side events.
However, New York has been an epicenter of the coronavirus crisis. This year was expected to bring an especially large number of leaders to U.N. headquarters to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
But Guterres said in a letter to Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of the General Assembly, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, that the COVID-19 pandemic “will continue to cycle with varying degrees of severity” across the world and it’s highly unlikely leaders can travel to New York in September.
Muhammad-Bande has said a decision on the annual gathering will be made after consultations with U.N. member states.