This is the United Nations’ 75th anniversary and will be a United Nations General Assembly like no other.

Typically, this is the time of year where world leaders gather in New York to deliver speeches at the United Nations and participate in all manner of diplomatic events. But this year, UNGA goes virtual. World leaders will not be descending on New York. Rather, they will deliver video messages to the General Assembly. The big exception is Donald Trump, who has said he would like to deliver his address in person.

The sheer number of heads of state slated to deliver addresses is impressive — quite likely more heads of state than ever are scheduled to speak at the UN, albeit via video. This includes President Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia who typically do not attend UNGA in person.

What is gained and what is lost by this format? Can virtual diplomacy substitute for the kind of in-person diplomatic “speed dating” to which UNGA is often compared?

UNGA Week is always a highlight of the diplomatic calendar and on the line with me to preview some of the storylines for this most unusual UNGA is Richard Gowan, the UN Director of the International Crisis Group.

If you have  25 minutes and want a preview of what to expect from UNGA 2020, have a listen

 

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