UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is recommending that the annual gathering of world leaders in late September, which was supposed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, be dramatically scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guterres suggests in a letter to the president of the General Assembly that heads of state and government deliver prerecorded messages instead, with only one New York-based diplomat from each of the 193 UN member nations present in the General Assembly Hall.
Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has said a decision on the annual gathering will be made after consultations with UN member states.
The meeting of world leaders usually brings thousands of government officials, diplomats and civil society representatives to New York for over a week of speeches, dinners, receptions, one-on-one meetings and hundreds of side events.
This year was expected to bring an especially large number of leaders to UN headquarters to celebrate the founding of the United Nations in 1945 on the ashes of World War II.
But New York has been an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with over 190,000 cases and nearly 16,000 confirmed deaths.