They said it: Leaders at the virtual UN, in their own words

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 Tuesday, the first day of the 2020 debate.


“Life is experiencing a radical redesigning of age-old ways, and uncertainty is replacing certainty. Even close friends cannot recognize each other due to the masks that protect us from the contagion. Everything is changing.”

— Miguel Diaz-Canel, president of Cuba


“Recognizing that protecting our natural environment would ultimately protect all existence, Jordan has drafted a charter, to be submitted to the UNGA, that grants selected ecosystems and all species of flora and fauna the legal right to exist. And thus ensuring humanity itself continues to exist.”

— King Abdullah of Jordan


“Those who conquer, those who dominate, those who colonize always try to justify their atrocities by denigrating the first peoples by calling them barbarians or savages.”

— Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico


“Rarely has there been a more pressing time for creative thinking and innovation.”

— Danny Faure, president of the Seychelles


“Our eyes are focused with hope and faith on scientists and researchers who are working on vaccines and drugs to stop the pandemic.”

— Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedo, president of Turkmenistan