United Nations

LIVE UPDATES: United Nations General Assembly 2021

LIVE UPDATES: United Nations General Assembly 2021


World leaders are returning to New York, physically or virtually, for the world’s largest diplomatic stage – the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The 76th UNGA officially opened on September 14 with the oath-taking of Abdulla Shahid of Maldives as General Assembly president. 

For the most important part of the gathering, heads of government and diplomats are set to discuss pressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the UNGA’s General Debate to be held from September 21 to September 27. 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, US President Joe Biden, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are among the world leaders expected to address the UN this week.

Bookmark and refresh this page for articles, photos, and videos on the latest developments in the 76th United Nations General Assembly.


Israel scores win at UN after 33 nations boycott Durban IV conference

Israel scored a diplomatic victory at the United Nations General Assembly after at least 33 countries boycotted a high-level meeting reaffirming support for the anti-Semitic Durban Declaration.

On Wednesday, September 22, the UNGA adopted a resolution backing the Durban Declaration and Program of Action or Durban IV to mark its 20th anniversary.

This declaration – first signed during the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa – was meant to combat racism. But the event was marred by anti-Semitic statements, prompting the United States and Israel to walk out at the time.

The Foreign Ministry of Israel said 33 countries boycotted the UN’s Durban IV conference on Wednesday, among them Israel, US, France, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, however, called out anti-Semitism in his speech during the high-level meeting.

“We see a troubling rise in anti-Semitism… We must condemn without reservation or hesitation the racism and discrimination of growing anti-Muslim bigotry, the mistreatment of minority Christians, and other forms of intolerance around the world,” said Guterres.

Mara Cepeda

Biden pledges new vaccine donations in bid to rally global pandemic fight

President Joe Biden will push world leaders on Wednesday, September 22, to do more to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, and announce a US pledge to buy 500 million more vaccine doses to donate to other countries.

Holding a virtual summit to boost global vaccination rates, Biden hopes to show he is leading by example with the pledge, which will bring US donations to the rest of the world up to more than 1.1 billion doses.

Read more here.


Brazil’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19 in New York

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for COVID-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, September 21 the government said.

Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government’s communications office said.

Read more here.


Women’s rights activist to leaders at UN: Don’t let Taliban fool you

Afghan rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh fled her homeland with her family when it was last ruled by the Taliban more than two decades ago – when women could not work, had to cover their faces, and girls were banned from school.

She urged world leaders on Tuesday, September 21, to stand up for the rights of women and girls now the Taliban had returned to power.

“What will remain of our people? And what will remain of the 20 years of achievements? Do not be fooled by the masks the Taliban show on the news,” Alizadeh told a virtual event on the sidelines of the annual high-level UN General Assembly.

Read full story here.


‘We must resolve disputes peacefully,’ Duterte tells UN on West PH Sea

Talking about the 2016 Arbitral Award at the 76th United Nations (UN) General Assembly, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country is “one with ASEAN and other stakeholders in ensuring that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, security, and prosperity.”

“The 1982 UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea provide a clear path towards a just, fair, and win-win solution for all,” he said in his 15-minute pre-recorded address played before the General Assembly past 5 am (Manila time) on Wednesday, September 22.

Read full story here.


CONTEXT: Vaccines, drug war, more at Duterte’s UN General Assembly speech


‘Man-made drought’: Duterte blasts rich nations for hoarding vaccines

President Rodrigo Duterte criticized rich countries for hoarding coronavirus vaccines at the expense of poorer countries like the Philippines that continue to struggle with protecting its population against the deadly virus. 

In his last address before the United Nations General Assembly past 5 am (Manila time) on Wednesday, September 22, Duterte did not mince words against the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. 

The Philippine President said it is “shocking beyond belief” that several developed nations are now talking of booster shots, while developing countries are considering half-doses just to get by. 

Read more here.

Mara Cepeda

Embattled Duterte tells ‘inadequate’ UN not to interfere with drug war

With a probe into crimes against humanity looming over him, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came out swinging against the United Nations (UN), discrediting it as he warned against any interference into his brutal war on drugs. 

The tough-talking Duterte doubled down on his criticism of the UN in his 15-minute pre-recorded address played before the General Assembly past 5 am (Manila time) on Wednesday, September 22. 

This was Duterte’s last address before the UNGA as Philippine president. It’s a speech he delivered just days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to open an investigation into his bloody war on drugs.

Read full story here.

Mara Cepeda

FULL TEXT: President Duterte’s speech at 2021 UN General Assembly

Duterte takes a jab at rich countries for hoarding COVID-19 vaccines


In his speech before the 76th United Nations General Assembly, President Rodrigo Duterte takes a jab at rich countries for “hoarding” COVID-19 vaccines.

“They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” Duterte says.