Palm trees to castles, an odd UN General Assembly

The 75th anniversary of the United Nations, which was supposed to be a huge celebration, fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead it ended up being a geopolitical zoom meeting with some very interesting backdrops. (Sept. 24)

Video Transcript

RICHARD GOWAN: Normally during the General Assembly, the halls are packed. And it is wonderful because you see very famous politicians sort of wandering through the building, looking a bit awed by the sheer amount of energy and the sheer number of big names circulating. That's all gone.

- Mr. President--

- Mr. President--

- Mr. President--

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

RICHARD GOWAN: Everyone enjoyed watching the videos because it's fun to see what backgrounds world leaders use. I think people were quite struck when the King of Saudi Arabia had a painting of himself in the background of his video. But the reality is that I think most people have stopped watching these videos by now.

And it's easy to criticize the format. And you know, it isn't really very compelling. But at a minimum, the UN has persuaded over 100 world leaders to make these videos. And I think that if there had been no General Assembly at all, that would have sent an even more negative message about the relevance of the UN today.