This week, world leaders will gather in this meeting hall for a special session of the UN General Assembly, focussing on the COVID-19 pandemic. UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

World leaders, UN officials and experts will discuss key aspects of COVID-19, including vaccines as a global public good and socio-economic recovery.

NEW YORK, 2 December — The President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, will host the Assembly’s 31st special session on 3-4 December in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following 1.5 million deaths, more than 62 million cases worldwide and one of the largest social and economic crises in living memory, controlling and recovering from COVID-19 is the international community’s top priority. UN Member States have thus mandated a special session of the General Assembly to reflect on the response to the ongoing crisis to date and forge a united path forward to better recovery, including access to a COVID-19 vaccine. A summary reflecting the discussions will be circulated by the President’s Office.

“COVID-19 is a global health crisis. It is also an economic crisis, a development crisis, a humanitarian crisis and a human rights crisis. It revealed the structural inequalities and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable members of our societies,” President Bozkir said.

He added: “The special session provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat COVID-19. With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right. The world is looking to the UN for leadership; this is a test for multilateralism. I believe the General Assembly will be able to forge a path forward and to end the suffering of the people we serve.”

The two-day special session will consist primarily of a general debate on 3 December and interactive dialogues with experts, UN agencies and leading scientists, on 4 December.

Specifically, the first day will include an opening segment with statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Presidents of the Economic and Social Council and Security Council, and the Chair of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. This will be followed by messages from world leaders on their experiences in fighting the pandemic and the needs in addressing COVID-19 moving forward.

The second day will feature a presentation from the Director-General of the World Health Organization and three moderated panel discussions covering the health and humanitarian response, vaccine development and socio-economic recovery.

Moderated by UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming, BBC Chief International Correspondent and Senior Presenter Lyse Doucet and international journalist Femi Oke, the panel discussions will include key UN officials leading the organization’s response and recovery efforts, as well as speakers from the private sector and civil society. This includes leading scientists and manufacturers, whose work on vaccines have raised hopes worldwide.

Member States will engage in dialogue with participants to jointly take stock of the current response, identify policy and operation gaps, and forge a united, coordinated, and people-centered path forward.

Further details regarding the programme and speakers are available at the dedicated website for the General Assembly’s special session on COVID-19, here…