UNGA75: Guterres to host virtual summit in UK marking first General Assembly meeting

UN delegates gathered in central London for the first time in 1946

An international summit to mark the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly is due to open in London on Sunday.

The 51 original nations that made up UNGA met in the city's Methodist Central Hall, an ornate building across the square from the Houses of Parliament.

The current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will speak at an event titled "We the Peoples” — the first words of the organisation’s Charter — to highlight UN achievements and call for “a renewed global partnership to address the many challenges” facing the world.

"A third world war — which so many had feared — has been avoided. And never in modern history has the world gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers," Mr Guterres told the 75th anniversary UNGA meeting. "This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud — and which we must all strive to preserve."

The ceremony on Sunday will also feature a message from peacekeeping troops currently serving in Mali, West Africa and the role of the operations staged by the UN around the world will be recognised.

London was not to be the permanent home of the UN General Assembly, which in April convened in New York's Flushing Meadow and was opened by the chairman of the Belgian delegation Frank van Langenhove.

The UN yearbook of 1946-47 shows that the first meeting was dominated by the issue of the mandate for Palestine, as well as the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon and Syria.

However, there was a dispute over Jordan's application for UN membership that later divided the UN Security Council along Cold War lines.

Diplomats from Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations played a leading role in the sessions. After the San Francisco conference, the UN officially came into existence in October, 1945. October 24 is marked as UN Day as the point the Charter was ratified by China, France, Soviet Union, UK, US and a majority of other signatories.

Mr Guterres will continue the virtual visit to London from Sunday for two more days. It is his first such online effort since the Covid-19 pandemic broke last year. He was originally to attend in person, but because of Britain's worsening public health situation, London instead arranged for a virtual meeting.

On Monday and Tuesday, he is set to participate in a session dedicated to the fight against climate change and will hold bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Secretary General will speak on Monday at the ‘COP26 Virtual Roundtable on Clean Power Transition’.

“The event is designed to showcase and generate more commitments and action to accelerate the transition to renewable, affordable, and resilient power systems in Africa and European countries, as well as the importance of a just transition to ensure green job,” UN spokesman said.

Guterres will be joined by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and incoming COP26 President Alok Sharma.

The original UN members were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippine Republic, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.