Philippine leader joins UN General Assembly for the first time


President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since assuming office, the Philippine presidential palace has announced.

Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje, in an online press briefing said the President is expected to touch on various issues like COVID-19 response and human rights in his address to the assembly on Tuesday.

“This will be the President’s first time to address the UN General Assembly, the main deliberative board of the UN where all the 193 member-states are represented,” Borje said.

Duterte is among the first to speak on the High Level General Debate, being the 12th out of 14 speakers to address the UN General Assembly which this year marks its 75th anniversary of establishment.

With the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action” it is also the first time for the meetings to be done virtually in light of the pandemic.

Borje said among the topics Duterte will address are “global response to the coronavirus pandemic, peace and security including terrorism and geopolitical developments in the Asia Pacific, sustainable development and climate change, rule of law, justice and human rights including the situation of migrant workers, and refugees as well as peacekeeping and United Nations reforms.”

“The President recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform where one country can articulate a country’s principled position on many items and many issues. This is why he decided to join the UN General Assembly high-level debate this month,” Borje said.

Previously, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from the UN amid calls from human rights experts to end extrajudicial killings.

Last year, the UN Human Rights Council sought a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human rights situation.

UN Commissioner Michele Bachelet has also repeatedly reminded the Duterte administration to revoke its policies that resulted in killings and other human rights violations in the country. (Source: