Movses Abelian, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, acknowledges that this year's gathering of world leaders presents unique challenges. But, he says, the work of the UN continues. For two decades he has had a pivotal role in organizing thousands of key diplomatic meetings during these important weeks in NYC. In this video, Abelian explains the General Assembly, how it has worked in the past, and what to expect this year.
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.
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).
From climate change to connecting more people to the Internet, big companies like Microsoft are seeing an increasing role within multilateral organizations like the UN and the World Health Organization. John Frank, Microsoft's VP of UN Affairs, explains the contributions tech companies and other multinational corporations are making globally during this time of crisis and challenge.
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
It's UNGA week, very unusual New York to have the United Nations General Assembly meetings. You know, the city is locked down. It's almost always locked down this week, but usually you can't get anywhere because you've got all these marshals with dozens of heads of state and well over a hundred foreign ministers and their delegations jamming literally everything, Midtown and branching out across the city. This time around, the security cordon for the United Nations itself is barely a block, and no one is flying in. I mean, the weather is gorgeous, and you can walk pretty much anywhere, but nothing's really locked down aside from, of course, the fact that the restaurants and the bars and the theaters and everything else is not happening given the pandemic. And it's not just in the US, it's all around the world.
In an interview with Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerald Butts, Nicolas de Rivière cautions against an overly halcyon view of the UN's history. The Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations explains that throughout its 75 years the organization has confronted adversity. This moment is no exception, but "we have no other choice" than cooperation in order to address today's biggest crises, he explains. Rivière also discusses the global pandemic response, a need for greater commitments to climate action, and a recent move by the US to push for renewed sanctions against Iran.
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.
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.
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.
This UN General Assembly features speeches from world leaders, high-level delegate meetings, and (sometimes heated) debates about the biggest issues the world is facing. This year will be no different, but the format certainly will be. Here's our look at the first virtual UNGA, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted much of the UN's work to the digital realm.
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.
|10.1.2020 9a ET||WFP: Digital technology: the flexible backbone of humanitarian response|
|10.7.2020 11a ET||Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs|
|10.14.2020 11a ET||Digital Peace: Trust and Security in Cyberspace|
On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:
- 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 UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.
Watch: Tolu Olubunmi in conversation with Dr. Samira Asma from the World Health Organization on how they are advancing health data innovation in the age of COVID-19.
This content is brought to you by our 2020 UN General Assembly partner, Microsoft.
Watch UN Innovation Room conversations weekly on Thursdays at 9 am EDT: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream/
In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.
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 — will present 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 will be moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel includes:
- 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
Mark your calendar and sign up to be notified about this and other GZERO Media events.
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.