Who speaks at the UN General Assembly, who doesn’t – and why does Brazil go first?


Several prominent leaders will make personal speeches at the UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday, including Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, an outspoken Covid skeptic whose mismanagement of the pandemic threatens his political future. Mr Bolsonaro has also caused a stir by vowing to defy the assembly’s vaccination demand.

Many leaders choose to use pre-recorded video, as was done last year, or have a lower-ranking representative speak in person, and the absence of a particular country’s leader this year can send a message.

Perhaps the most prominent leader to skip a personal appearance at the General Assembly is President Xi Jinping of China, an increasingly important financial contributor to the United Nations and a rival to the United States for influence there, an underlying source of tension.

Mr Xi originally planned to have his Deputy Prime Minister represent China, but in a last-minute amendment posted Monday by UN officials, Mr Xi will address the General Assembly via pre-recorded video as the final speaker. on Tuesday.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia will also not attend, and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, will speak instead.

In what may be another sign of France’s anger at the United States over a secret arms deal with Australia, French President Emmanuel Macron has given up on the idea of ​​speaking at the meeting, even via video. Instead, he tapped his foreign minister, Jean-Yves LeDrian, to speak, which could now happen on the last day.

Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, also sent a pre-recorded speech, skipping the opportunity for personal diplomacy that could help save Iran’s near-dying nuclear deal with the great powers.

Mr. Bolsonaro will be the first head of state to address the meeting when speeches begin at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Brazil has been the first to speak since the mid-1950s, and UN protocol officials say the tradition began because at the time, no leader from another country was willing to take on that role. That position is now considered a coveted slot that can help set the tone for the week.

Other speakers on the first day include the presidents of Turkey, Mexico, South Korea, Poland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The order of speakers generally adheres to the principle that the leader of the host nation comes second, followed by other heads of state, heads of government, vice presidents, crown princes, foreign ministers, and then deputies and ambassadors. It is also determined by the date each of the 193 members makes the request.

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