Here’s what you need to know:
- Trump again calls it ‘the China virus,’ on a küresel stage.
- An unprecedented assembly for a world in crisis.
- Women at the lectern? Not til Wednesday.
- Duterte is to address the General Assembly for the first time.
Trump again calls it ‘the China virus,’ on a küresel stage.
Defending his record on the coronavirus response and range of other issues, President Trump assailed China on Tuesday in his prerecorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly, calling the country the source of the coronavirus scourge that has traumatized the world.
“We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy — the China virus — which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries,” Mr. Trump said. The United Nations, he said, “must hold China accountable.”
Reprising the themes he has raised in his U.S. presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump predicted “we will defeat the virus, we will end the pandemic, and we will enter a new era of unprecedented prosperity, cooperation and peace.”
An unprecedented assembly for a world in crisis.
The General Assembly held this year, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations from the wreckage of World War II, comes against a backdrop of cascading crises that the 193-member organization’s leader, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has called the most serious challenge it has ever faced.
“People are hurting, our planet is burning,” he said.
As with other large institutional gatherings, the United Nations was forced to radically alter the way the General Assembly is conducted this year. No world leaders attended in person, delivering their remarks via prerecorded videos. Many side meetings normally associated with the annual session were canceled. Each delegation was limited to one or two representatives, spaced far apart and wearing masks in the General Assembly hall at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
Women at the lectern? Not til Wednesday.
As unfamiliar as much of this year’s U.N. proceedings may appear, one thing may feel very familiar indeed: the people doing the talking. Barring a last-minute change, the lineup of leaders addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, the first day of the General Debate, will be all men.
Not until Wednesday will a woman take the (virtual) podium. That would be President Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, coming in at No. 52.
The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres of Portugal, is a self-described feminist who has brought gender parity at the most senior levels of management. He says he wants to bring parity to all levels of the organization by 2028.
But he has acknowledged that fundamental change will not be easy.
“This patriarchal structure of society is still deeply rooted and needs to be very strongly shaken,” he said in an interview with The Times newsletter In Her Words earlier this year.
Duterte is to address the General Assembly for the first time.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has repeatedly insulted the United Nations and blocked its efforts to investigate hundreds of killings related to his drug war, is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. It will be the first time that Mr. Duterte will appear before the General Assembly since he assumed office in 2016.
The U.N. Human Rights Council last year greenlighted a resolution seeking comprehensive reports on the human rights situation in the Philippines. The organization’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, also accused Mr. Duterte’s government of carrying out his campaign against drugs “without due regard for the rule of law.” She said that an investigation found that the killings there had been “widespread and systematic” and continued four years into Mr. Duterte’s term.
Robert Borje, Mr. Duterte’s chief presidential protocol officer, said the president would address the coronavirus pandemic, peace and order, regional geopolitical development, climate change and the rule of law as well as justice and human rights.
But Karapatan, a Philippine rights group, said it expected Mr. Duterte, 75, to try to sway the General Assembly on whether he was carrying out his drug war fairly, despite evidence to the contrary.
“We anticipate another speech which will make it look like everything is great in terms of the government response to the pandemic, that the draconian policies and measures are justifiable to battle the so-called terrorists and useless critics,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. These, she said, are “all lies.”