11 Key Takeaways from the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly

The 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly was chaired by a Turkish national for the first time. The leaders of the UN member states addressed the world via video conference due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. The General Assembly, officially started on September 15th, will be adjourned on October 5th, although great importance was placed on the discussions of last week. On the first day, a total of 33 state leaders gave speeches that each lasted between five and 15 minutes. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the world leaders, urged for a global ceasefire to be materialized within 100 days, before the end of 2020.

The theme of this year’s General Assembly was:“The Future We Want, the United Nations We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism - Multilateralism in the Time of COVID-19”

Let’s have a look at 11 significant points to which we should pay attention:

- As the General Assembly Meeting was held virtual for the first time in the history of the UN, both the UN building and New York were empty. During their speeches at the UN General Assembly, country leaders introduced by their Representatives to the United Nations.

- Among all world leaders, the leader with the most impressive video conference recording was President Trump. Trump’s team had used different cameras and features such as zoom in, zoom out, and various frames in the video shooting.

- President Trump urged the UN to hold China accountable for COVID-19, while President Erdogan re-articulated that the UN Security Council must be reformed.

- Brazilian Head of State made an interesting statement and said that they were facing a smear campaign due to the fires which broke out in the Amazon forests and added that they were condemning these attacks.

- The speeches made by the world leaders mainly focused on the combat to tackle COVID-19, and they also provided recommendations on potential areas of collaboration. During his speech, Pope Francis recommended that the vaccine should be given to those living in poverty as a priority.

- Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis offered President Erdogan to come together in order to find a mutually acceptable solution and to give diplomacy a chance while Erdogan suggested organizing a large-scale assembly meeting regarding the Eastern Mediterranean issue, which will also include Turkish Cypriot representatives as participants.

- The German Chancellor, though indirectly, supported Turkey’s “The World is Bigger than 5” discourse by advocating that the UN must be reformed. Russian Head of State argued that the five permanent members of the UN General Assembly should maintain their veto powers. French President Macron said, “United Nations is also facing chaos just as the entire world,” whereas the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the structure of the UN General Assembly.

- The President of Uzbekistan, Mirziyoyev, spoke Uzbek rather than Russian when he addressed the UN General Assembly, which was the first time a President spoke Uzbek at the general assembly meeting since the independence of Uzbekistan.

- For the first time, a media center was not set up for the United Nations General Assembly. Only a very limited number of journalists were permitted to follow the general assembly meeting.

- When Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, started his speech at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, an Indian diplomat left the room, and Azerbaijan’s Head of State, Aliyev, said: “Armenia should withdraw from Azerbaijan’s territories immediately and unconditionally.” Nigerian Head of State Issoufou Mahamadou spoke both at the UN General Assembly and at the UN Security Council, simultaneously, as a pre-recorded video was broadcast.

- That there were only 21 female heads of state from 193 member countries, a very low representation number, was not to go unnoticed.