- President Joe Biden next week will deliver his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly since taking office.
- One year earlier, then-President Donald Trump's final address to the international institution was delivered virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden next week will deliver his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly since he took office, the White House announced Monday.
Biden is set to travel to New York City, home to the UN headquarters, on Sept. 21.
One year earlier, then-President Donald Trump's final address to the international institution was delivered virtually, as the coronavirus pandemic raged in the absence of a viable vaccine.
Trump, who downplayed the dangers of the virus in the U.S., bragged about his administration's efforts responding to the pandemic and blamed China for having "unleashed this plague onto the world."
Biden's first speech at the green speaker's rostrum will come at a starkly different stage in the pandemic: Multiple vaccines are now widely available in the U.S., and nearly 179 million Americans have been fully vaccinated for Covid, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
But Covid remains a central challenge for the U.S. and the world due to the highly contagious delta variant. More than 4.6 million people have died from Covid worldwide, and more than 225 million have been infected.
While 42% of the global population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, less than 2% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, according to data compiled by Oxford University.
The World Health Organization has criticized wealthy nations for stockpiling vaccines and other health supplies, leaving poor countries to languish and fueling Covid outbreaks around the globe.
While the U.S. has donated more than 110 million doses of Covid vaccines to 60 countries, the White House is under pressure to do more. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Sunday that Biden will announce additional steps to fight Covid on the global stage before the General Assembly meets.
Biden's White House has also come under fire for its handling of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a chaotic and deadly process that has spurred criticism and concern even from his allies in the U.S. and internationally.
As U.S. forces moved to exit Afghanistan, the Taliban swept through the country, leading to the collapse of the U.S.-backed government. The Islamist militants gained ground much faster than the U.S. anticipated, quickly seizing the capital city of Kabul, where thousands had gathered in desperate hope of evacuating the country.
Thirteen U.S. service members and dozens of others were killed in a suicide bombing near Kabul's airport days before the withdrawal was complete.
In total, the U.S. and its allies have moved more than 124,000 people, including 6,000 U.S. citizens, out of Afghanistan, the State Department said last week. The exact number of U.S.-linked Afghans evacuated remains unclear.
The 76th regular session of the UN General Assembly will convene a week before Biden's speech, starting Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.
The White House on Monday afternoon announced the U.S. representatives for the session. They are:
- Tom Carnahan, a St. Louis, Missouri-based renewable energy developer and attorney
- Sim Farar, chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
- Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.
- Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.