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UN General Assembly Speaker Schedule Released
Zelenskyy Gets a Primo Spot for UNGA78
The United Nations has released the schedule of speakers for the 78th UN General Assembly.
The “General Debate” (as it is formally known) kicks off at 9:00 am Tuesday, September 19 with an address from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (It always starts on a Tuesday—baring some major unforeseen circumstance, like the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last year.) The Secretary General is followed by the new President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis, a diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago, who will preside from the General Assembly dais for the entire week, gavel in hand.
Per longstanding tradition, Brazil delivers the first address from a national delegation. This will be Lula’s first UNGA appearance since his previous stint as Brazil’s head of state.
The second speech always goes to the host country of the United Nations — that is, the President United States. Diplomats tend jostle for seats to be in the room for the American President’s speech, which typically makes the rest of the Tuesday morning session the most desirable speaking slot. As it happens, Ukraine was given one of these primo spots in anticipation of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first UN visit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Notably, Russia is given a very late slot in the week, on Friday. This is because Putin will not be there in person and UN member states that do not send their Head of Government or Head of State to the General Debate are usually slated to go after all Presidents and Prime Ministers in attendance have had their turn.
The United Nations has a dedicated website to the General Debate, where you can find speeches and transcripts in various languages, and watch live. You can find it here.
If you are a podcast listener, be sure to check out our special daily series during UNGA78, starting Monday September 18. Global Dispatches will be reporting live from the UN throughout the week. Here are some of the stories I’ll be following that week.