Sept. 20 (BP) — The 77th United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York City and the speaking portion of the event begins on Tuesday, but one particular tradition has veered just a little from its place on the schedule.
Technically, the General Assembly opened last week, but world leaders don’t begin giving their addresses until Tuesday.
As usual, first on the schedule is Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. Second is usually the president of the United States, the host nation. President Joe Biden, however, will speak this year on the second day, Wednesday, because he only returned to the United States on Monday from Britain, where he attended Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
The speakers begin to deliver their addresses at U.N. headquarters in New York City at 9 a.m. EDT.
Nearly 160 heads of state and their representatives will address the annual General Assembly. This year’s event, however, is notably different from previous years in multiple respects.
For one thing, it’s the first General Assembly in three years to be held as usual and in person at the United Nations building in New York City. The events in 2020 and 2021 were mostly staged remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, this year’s General Assembly is taking place during a major conflict — Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine, which has been going for almost seven months. The fighting has killed thousands of people, including civilians and children, and there’s absolutely no indication that it’s going to end anytime soon.
Third, the annual gathering is happening at a time of particular economic concern and the threat of a global recession. The economic climate has mostly been affected by COVID-19 and the Ukraine war.
“We meet at a moment of great peril for our world,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement Monday. “The world has a long ‘to-do’ list.”
The speakers are each scheduled to give their address during either the General Assembly’s morning or afternoon session. The morning sessions begin at 9 a.m. and the afternoon sessions at 3 p.m.
Biden is scheduled to speak seventh during the morning session Wednesday, after Suriname and before Latvia. In his remarks, he’s expected to call for unity and support for Ukraine. He’s also expected to address potential threats by Iran — due to Tehran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon — and China.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker an agreement this summer to allow Ukraine to resume grain shipments from the Black Sea, will be one of the speakers in the early session on Tuesday — along with French President Emmanuel Macron, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Finland Prime Minister Sauli Niinistö, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis.
Speakers in the afternoon block include Polish President Andrzej Duda, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian President Mario Draghi.
Biden, along with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak on Wednesday.