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UN calls special General Assembly session on pandemic

Online gathering to be held December 3-4; Israel one of 3 states to abstain on vote to call session, along with US, which opposes greater WHO role

Nayib Armando Bukele, president of El Salvador, is shown on video monitors as he speaks in a pre-recorded video message, during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 29, 2020, at UN headquarters. (Loey Felipe/UN Photo via AP)
Nayib Armando Bukele, president of El Salvador, is shown on video monitors as he speaks in a pre-recorded video message, during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 29, 2020, at UN headquarters. (Loey Felipe/UN Photo via AP)

UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly moved Thursday to hold a special session focused on international coordination in response to the coronavirus pandemic on December 3-4 in New York.

Discussed since June, the meeting is intended to bring together heads of state and government according to a resolution adopted by 150 of the 193 General Assembly members.

No country voted against the measure, while the US, Israel and Armenia abstained.

Leaders will be able to submit five-minute pre-recorded statements to be broadcast in the General Assembly Hall.

The clips will be played after short introductions from representatives physically present in the room, according to the resolution — a format similar to that of the annual General Assembly meeting in September.

In-person appearances by world leaders are unlikely, given New York state’s required 14-day quarantine period for international visitors.

The United States has already indicated it is opposed to an expanded role for the World Health Organization in fighting the pandemic, a stance facing major Russian pushback.

Germany, meanwhile, criticized the resolution as too vague, while Britain called for representation from non-governmental organizations and other civil society groups.

The 193 UN member nations have adopted four resolutions on the pandemic so far this year — on global solidarity, global access to medications and vaccines, coordination of global action, and a united response to worldwide health threats.

The Security Council on the other hand, which has had to navigate Chinese-American tensions over the virus, has only adopted one resolution on the pandemic, calling for the cessation of global conflicts in the interest of fighting COVID-19.

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