All UNGA 2020 Articles

Download PDF

The annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the world's largest diplomatic event, normally entails leaders and representatives from the 193 UN member states descending upon New York for a full week of speeches, high-stakes meetings between governments, and street protests. UNGA has also had its share of surprising moments, like Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev (allegedly) banging his shoe on the desk, or Venezuela's Hugo Chávez suggesting that US President George W. Bush was the devil himself.

This year's UNGA will be very different because of COVID-19. Hotels in New York won't be full of diplomats, metal detectors, and secret service agents. The "contact sport" of diplomacy will go virtual, with great uncertainty over how improvisational breakthroughs often found on the sidelines of UNGA summits will translate to the digital world. And more individuals from around the world than ever before will be able to take part. In other words, UNGA will be very different, but hardly less important (or dramatic).

More Show less

While governments around the world race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, intelligence services and criminal organizations see an opportunity: to steal vaccine research, keep tabs on the competition, or hold critical information for ransom. The vaccine manufacturing process involves a wide group of public and private organizations that have access to sensitive vaccine and manufacturing details as well as the personal information of trial participants. In addition to the risks of stolen intellectual property or personal information, hacks could also delay or derail elements of the quest for a viable vaccine. Here's a look at what hackers are after at each stage of the vaccine development process.

One of the biggest threats to 21st century international peace is invisible. It recognizes no borders and knows no rules. It can penetrate everything from the secrets of your government to the settings of your appliances. This is, of course, the threat of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare.

During the coronavirus pandemic, cyberattacks have surged, according to watchdogs. This isn't just Zoom-bombing or scams. It's also a wave of schemes, likely by national intelligence agencies, meant to steal information about the development and production of vaccines. Attacks on the World Health Organization soared five-fold early in the pandemic.

More Show less

The coronavirus pandemic has radically accelerated the adoption of digital technology in the global economy, creating an opportunity for millions of new businesses and jobs. However, it has also left millions jobless and exposed yet another vulnerability: hundreds of millions of people lack access to this technology.

To be sure, this divide was already present before COVID-19 struck. But unequal access to the internet and technology is going to make the multiple impacts of the pandemic much worse for offline and unskilled communities, among others. In fact, there is not a single global digital gap, but rather several ones that the coronavirus will likely exacerbate.

More Show less

This year's United General Assembly will be very different. Hotels in New York will not be full of famous heads of state, metal detectors, or US secret service agents as the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world's largest diplomatic gathering into a mostly online affair to enforce social distancing. A virtual UNGA requires a 20th century institution — which turns 75 and still thinks in analog in many ways — to rapidly embrace 21st century technology. How will UNGA adapt to its new virtual setting? Here are a few things that will change.

At the outset of the pandemic earlier this year, people in high places said that the coronavirus was shaping up to be the "great equalizer." But, in fact, the twin health and economic effects of the pandemic have been anything but equal. The poor have suffered and died more than the rich. Ethnic minorities in Europe and the US have borne the brunt. Pre-existing inequalities have been exposed, and deepened, by the disease.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the pandemic's disproportionate impact on women. What are the particular challenges for women in this crisis, and what does recovery look like for over half of the world's population?

More Show less

The twin blows of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it unleashed have added around 250 million globally to unemployment rolls. It has also changed the nature of work for many of those who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs. But this disruption has also accelerated digitalization, which Microsoft projects will create 149 million new jobs over the next five years. As more people learn to work from home, what does this mean for work, education, and skilling? We look at the new "digital" jobs that the global economy will need to fill by 2025, and which skills will be needed to get hired.

Download PDF


Three years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, a different kind of virus spread around the world: a piece of malicious software code launched by a nation state. It paralyzed computer networks in hundreds of countries, disrupted global shipping, forced pharmaceutical factories to shut down, and inflicted an estimated $10 billion of economic damage.

On the physical battlefield, a widely accepted set of rules, backed by international law, governs conduct, with the aim of protecting soldiers and civilians. Establishing common rules or guardrails is much harder in cyberspace, where borders can't be easily defined and the tools and tactics of combat are always changing. But it has never been more urgent.

More Show less

The pandemic has affected the working world in a slew of ways: the collapse of economic growth has put many out of work, while public health restrictions mean others cannot do their jobs even if they still have one. The UN calculates that the equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs were lost in the second quarter of this year, compared with the end of last year. That's 14 percent of all worldwide jobs. This number includes workers put on furlough or temporary leave, as well as those who are now unemployed. The burden has fallen disproportionately on women, and experts are worried that the pandemic will exacerbate inequalities in the workforce, given the large number of women who work in hard-hit sectors of the economy. We take a look at which regions have been hit hardest by pandemic-related job losses.

This year's United Nations General Assembly will be mostly virtual, so the high-stakes drama of global diplomacy won't be the usual "contact sport" between rivaling nations. But previous UNGA editions have been full of surprising, unusual, and often bizarre moments inside the General Assembly Hall in New York. Here's a historical look at highly dramatic events that have taken place at the world's largest diplomatic gathering since 1945.

As the United Nations wraps two weeks of a (historic and unprecedented) 75th General Assembly, made almost entirely virtual due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, some clear themes and threads carried throughout, giving us a sense of what the next several years could look like for the organization. GZERO Media covered the world's largest diplomatic gathering extensively, receiving a great deal of access to delegates, world leaders, and policymakers.

More Show less

LIVE 11a - 12p ET TODAY: Will the global challenges of 2020 lead to more inclusive multilateralism in the future?

At 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, our livestream panel, "Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding," will discuss how government, companies, citizens and other organizations can partner to solve today's major crises.

Watch at: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream

Governments can't tackle today's global challenges alone. Will 2020 be seen as a shaping moment for a more modern and inclusive multilateralism, or a retrenchment to "business as usual"?

Our panel includes:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by António Guterres, Christine Lagarde, and Trevor Noah.

More Show less

Download PDF

Fires. Floods. Hurricanes. Heatwaves.

It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of planetary disruption, particularly with a global pandemic that is — understandably — distracting many from the generational challenge of climate change. But there is an enormous transformational opportunity at hand.

The need to build back after COVID-19 offers an opportunity to work toward cleaner and more resilient societies that can grow with fewer emissions, create broadly shared opportunities in a low-carbon economy, and heal the planet. Governments are spending massively to stimulate the economy, including forms of green stimulus, and many around the world are demanding that we don't just re-build, but build back better. This is a task that no single country can bear on its own; indeed, addressing climate change and sustainability challenges is the ultimate focal point for reimagining multilateralism in the 21st century. It requires that companies and governments take chances, invest and innovate, and share their learnings with the world. But it also requires global cooperation, including new coalitions of unconventional partners that each hold one part of a complex solution.

More Show less

Download PDF

The COVID-19 crisis has put millions of people out of work and exacerbated economic inequality around the world. It has also squeezed years of digital transformation of the economy into just a few months — opening up new possibilities and challenges. Many workers will likely spend the next year or two in a "hybrid economy," with work continuing at least partially remotely. That means it will be more important for people to have the tech skills to succeed in a totally new workplace.

Connecting the more than 3 billion people who today lack reliable internet access to the communications tools and essential services they need to participate in the modern economy is an essential first step. Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century. Without universal access to broadband, the economic recovery from COVID-19 will be neither comprehensive nor inclusive. The pandemic underscores the risks of a digital divide — increasing the reliance of households, small businesses, and entire economies on internet access, while leaving those without it further and further behind.

More Show less

On Wednesday, September 16th, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — kicks off a series of livestream discussions about the most important issues facing the 75th UN General Assembly. The first event, Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action, will consider how we get to net zero emissions.

Our panel will be moderated by Julia Pyper, host and producer of the Political Climate podcast, and will include Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor, Eurasia Group; Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft; Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University; and Mark Carney, Finance Adviser to the UK Prime Minister for COP 26 and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

On the day of the event, visit https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream to view the livestream presentation.

Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action: Wednesday, September 16th, 12:30p ET/9:30a PT/5:30p BST

Add to Calendar


Sign up to be notified about this and other events here.

Download PDF

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered profound political, economic, and social shocks. For some countries, the worst of the crisis is already behind them, while others continue to grapple with severe health and economic challenges — and will still do so well into 2021. But as the world starts to rebuild, it is critical to focus not just on the speed but also on the quality of the recovery.

More Show less

Over the past 40 years, the economic gap between the world's richest and poorest countries and peoples has narrowed sharply. Goods, services, and people began to cross borders at greater velocity, creating opportunities for people to live healthier, more secure, and more prosperous lives. Billions rose out of poverty.

Here's the catch: all that beneficial economic activity has also sharply increased the use of fossil fuels and the amount of carbon that's reaching the atmosphere. Life on earth remains possible only because carbon dioxide in our atmosphere captures enough heat from the sun to sustain us while deflecting enough extra heat into space to keep us from burning up. That's the "natural greenhouse effect."

More Show less

GZERO Media, in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group, is proud to announce a series of livestream panels, featuring global experts discussing the most pressing issues facing the 75th United Nations General Assembly.

The 2020 UN General Assembly: Connecting Through Crisis

  • Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action: Wednesday, September 16th, 12:30p ET/9:30a PT/5:30p BST
    • Julia Pyper, Host and Producer, Political Climate podcast (moderator)
    • Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor, Eurasia Group
    • Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft
    • Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University
    • Mark Carney, Finance Adviser to the UK Prime Minister for COP 26 and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance

Add to Calendar

Add to Calendar

Add to Calendar

Add to Calendar

Sign up for email announcements on GZERO Media events.

The United Nations has been working for over a decade on a global framework to govern cyberspace. But will it ever happen if global powers benefit from having no rules for cyber war? Find out in a livestream discussion, "Digital Peace: Trust and Security in Cyberspace," presented by GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — on Wednesday, October 14 at 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST.

Watch our UNGA livestream events at https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream. (No registration required.)

Meredith Sumpter, CEO of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, will moderate the panel, which includes:

  • Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director, Cyber Policy Center, Stanford University
  • Marina Kaljurand, Member, European Parliament; Former Chair, Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
  • Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust, Microsoft
  • Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
More Show less

Teaching digital skills could empower the workforce the 21st century needs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — presented a live panel discussion, "Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs," about the acceleration of digitalization, the changing workforce, and the need for digital access for all.

The conversation was moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel included:

  • Kate Behncken, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
  • Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly
  • Parag Mehta, Executive Director and Sr Vice President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
  • Dominique Hyde, Director External Relations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
Also featured: a special appearance by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile.

Sign up to be notified about future GZERO Media events.

More Show less
GZERO, Microsoft & Eurasia Group @ UN General Assembly 2020
Sign up to find out about all upcoming GZERO Media Events

UN75: Born out of global crisis, the UN confronts another

As the UN turns 75, the organization is revealing the results of a global survey of nearly a million people in 193 nations—what matters most to them, and how do they view the need for global cooperation at this time of unprecedented crisis? Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser Fabrizio Hochschild explains the purpose and findings of the report.

Video: Reimagining while rebuilding: How we respond to & recover from 2020's crises

The world is facing an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime crisis. World leaders and corporations alike need to not only rebuild, but reimagine what life could look like after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a special GZERO Media series, Eurasia Group and Microsoft experts present solutions to some of the biggest issues of the 21st century.

Moving Multilateralism Forward: Madeleine Albright, Caroline Kennedy, and John Frank discuss with young adults

Watch: "Moving Multilateralism Forward," an intergenerational dialogue between Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State; Caroline Kennedy, former US Ambassador to Japan; John Frank, Microsoft Vice President of UN Affairs; and four current and former students of the Marble Hill School for International Studies in the Bronx, NY. These veteran diplomats and young minds discuss the future of multilateralism, the unprecedented challenges facing the international community, the power of young people in leading change, and the promise that technology has to be a force for good.

Keep reading... Show less

Bridging the digital divide starts with broadband around the world

John Frank, Vice President of UN Affairs at Microsoft, discusses how to include people around the world in the digital economy,on UNGA In 60 Seconds.

Satya Nadella famously said, "We saw two years of digital transformation in two months" due to the pandemic and the need it created for virtual communication, work, and learning, but still nearly half the world's population lacks connectivity.

First, how can we begin to bridge the digital divide? Then, how can digital skilling lead us into a better global economy?

Keep reading... Show less

Video: The need for digital inclusion: access, training, and activating skills for the next billion jobs

Nearly half the world's population lacks internet connectivity at a time when digital communication has never been more critical. As part of a special partnership between Eurasia Group and Microsoft, GZERO Media examines the power of connecting more people—and how teaching digital skills could create the workforce the 21st century needs.

An interview with UN Secretary-General António Guterres

In this extended version of Ian Bremmer's conversation with UN Secretary-General António Guterres for GZERO World, the two discuss a wide range of geopolitical issues and how they've been exacerbated by the pandemic. Guterres shares his views on the urgent need for global climate action, equitable distribution of vaccine once approved, and Europe's emerging role as an example of successful intergovernmental cooperation. Guterres also lays out his vision for a more "inclusive" multilateralism, one that involves deeper partnerships between organizations like the UN and World Health Organization with multinational corporations and private stakeholders.

Colombia’s President Iván Duque on early pandemic response: “Multilateralism didn’t work as it should”

In an interview with GZERO Media, Colombia's President Iván Duque discusses early missteps in global coordination on pandemic response that he feels exacerbated the spread of the virus. "If we all had acknowledged what was really going on in Asia, maybe we would have taken faster draconian measures to protect the world," he told Ian Bremmer.

While Colombia was initially praised for a swift and successful approach to COVID-19, infection rates and cases have spiked in recent weeks as lockdown restrictions ease in order to alleviate strain on an already battered economy. In the conversation, Bremmer and Duque also discuss the Venezuelan refugee crisis, and how economic fallout of the pandemic has forced at least 100,000 to leave Colombia and return home.