They Said It: Leaders at the Virtual UN, in Their Own Words

RETRANSMISSION TO CORRECT DATE - In this photo made from UNTV video, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at UN Headquarters. (UNTV Via AP )

Lots of leaders saying lots of things about lots of topics — topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world.

That’s what the speechmaking at the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain enormous topics and certain louder voices dominate.

Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts you might not have heard — the voices of leaders speaking at the first all-virtual U.N. General Assembly leaders meeting who might not have captured the headlines and the airtime on Friday, the fourth day of the 2020 debate.


“Crisis necessarily brings suffering. But at the same time, it teaches us useful lessons that help us develop stronger and more effective responses to future challenges.”

— PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, prime minister of Thailand


“The current pandemic jeopardizes the progress we’ve made already on gender equality. Every woman and every girl have the right to decide over their life, their body and future.”

— METTE FREDERIKSEN, prime minister of Denmark


“We need a new way of thinking. On climate, on inequality on health. Because the way we’re doing things just isn’t working well enough.”

— JUSTIN TRUDEAU, prime minister of Canada


“I hope to be able to address the room in a lively, more interactive fashion.”

— XAVIER BETTEL, prime minister of Luxembourg


“Unity saves lives. Unity, and unity alone, can save the planet.”

— PEDRO SANCHEZ, prime minister of Spain