World leaders will be back at the United Nations for the first time in two years on Tuesday with a formidable agenda of escalating crises to tackle, including the still raging Covid-19 pandemic and a relentlessly warming planet.
Other pressing issues are rising US-China tensions, Afghanistan’s unsettled future under its new Taliban rulers and ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region.
Last year, no leaders came to the UN because the coronavirus was sweeping the globe, so all their addresses were pre-recorded. This year, the General Assembly offered leaders a choice of coming to New York or remaining online, and more than 100 heads of state and government decided to appear in person in the General Assembly hall.
By tradition, the first country to speak is Brazil, whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, isn’t vaccinated. The three most closely watched speakers on Tuesday are expected to be US President Joe Biden, appearing at the UN for the first time since his defeat of Donald Trump in the November election, China’s President Xi Jinping, who in a surprise move will deliver a video address, and Iran’s recently elected hardline President Ebrahim Raisi.