Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the United Nations 75th general assembly with a pre-recorded speech as the world’s leaders come together, remotely, in New York, at a time of global disruption due to coronavirus.
While most leaders and diplomats won’t attend the general assembly in person, pre-recorded addresses will be played to those few delegates who are attending, and will be available to watch online.
The general assembly began on Tuesday 22 September, with one of only two in-person speeches for the week, made by the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, who told those present and watching, “Today, we face our own 1945 moment.”
When will Boris Johnson speak?
Boris Johnson’s speech, which is expected to be between 10 and 20 minutes long, will be shown towards the beginning of Saturday’s (26 September) first session in New York, at around 3pm for UK viewers.
The heads of each of the other five permanent members of the UN security council - China, France, Russia and the USA - all spoke on the opening day of proceedings, and some experts have suggested that Mr Johnson’s spot on Saturday morning, towards the end of the virtual summit, is emblematic of the UK’s reduced international standing.
What is he going to say?
Mr Johnson’s speech will come after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opens the day’s session, and he will likely attempt to maintain a stance and tone which endears him to the USA without alienating China.
It will be the first time Mr Johnson has addressed a UN general assembly since the UK has left the European Union, and he will also likely stress the UK’s ongoing commitment to international trade and relations.
As his government’s proposed Internal Market Bill attracted criticism earlier this month, with those opposed to it saying it effectively put the UK into a position of breaking international law, Mr Johnson may also seek to reaffirm Britain's commitment to the rules-based order.
What did other world leaders say?
Though it comes in the midst of a major crisis, in the form of the global pandemic, this year’s UN general assembly also takes place as tensions between the world’s leading economies, China and the USA, are ramping up.
Earlier this week, President Trump delivered a controversial and at times confrontational speech on Tuesday, in which he heavily criticised China over what he says is their responsibility for the coronavirus crisis.
President of China, Xi Jingping, used his speech to announce a donation of $100million to the UN, as well as China’s intent to see their carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.