Breezy Explainer: Here is why Brazil always speaks first at the UNGA

·2-min read
Here is why Brazil always speaks first at the UNGA
Here is why Brazil always speaks first at the UNGA

Ever since the 10th UNGA in 1995, Brazil is always the first to address the assembly. Read to understand why.

2021 UNGA: In session

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly consists of representatives from around the globe. The weeklong debate and meetings in New York began on Tuesday. The UNGA follows several long-standing traditions dating back to several decades. This includes everything from the order of speakers to the length of the speeches. The assembly debate is divided into two sessions: the morning and the afternoon sessions. The COVID-19 pandemic, Afghanistan issue, security, and climate change will be the top focus of these discussions this year.

One of these traditions followed since the 10th UNGA in 1995 is that Brazil is the first to address the UN delegation. The United States follows Brazil. However, speakers after the US keep changing. It varies with levels of representation, the importance of the speaker among other things.

Why does Brazil speak first at the General Assembly?

Why does Brazil speak first at the General Assembly?
Why does Brazil speak first at the General Assembly?

For over six decades, Brazil has always been the first speaker at the UNGA. You may assume that this order is alphabetical. However, that is not the case. This UN tradition dates back to the early days of the United Nations. And it goes back to its formation after the second world war came to an end. Back then, several countries were apprehensive about being the first to address the nations. However, Brazil stepped up and volunteered to be the first speaker.

Some origin stories go back to 1947 when Oswaldo Aranha, Brazil’s top diplomat presided over the first UN Assembly meeting. Later Aranha was also elected as the president of the General Assembly’s second session. This year, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s President followed tradition and spoke at the International forum. He highlighted the Brazillian government’s commitment to bettering not only the country but the world as a whole.

The United States has always followed as the second speaker on all but a few occasions. However, the remaining speakers are chosen based on the rank of the country’s representatives. Heads of the state and government, crown princes, and foreign ministers are the initial speakers.

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