King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Prime Minister Rutte take part in online 75th UN General Assembly

His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Prime Minister Mark Rutte are participating digitally in the 75th United Nations General Assembly. King Willem-Alexander will address the Assembly with a video message marking the UN’s 75th anniversary. Prime Minister Rutte will give a video address at both the General Debate and the Summit on Biodiversity. Queen Máxima will take part in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of this year’s General Assembly will take place online.

The Kingdom delegation also includes Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes of Aruba, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath of Curaçao and Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs of St Maarten. Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag and Dutch UN Youth Representative Hajar Yagkoubi are part of the delegation as well.

The King will address the Assembly on Monday 21 September to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary. His speech will highlight the UN’s historical and current importance before looking ahead to the future of the organisation.

Prime Minister Rutte’s speech, which will be broadcast to the Assembly on Friday 25 September, will emphasise the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in an unstable world. On Wednesday 30 September the prime minister will speak at the online Summit on Biodiversity about everything the Kingdom of the Netherlands is doing to protect biodiversity and foster its recovery.

In her capacity as the UN Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Máxima will deliver a keynote address at the online event, ‘G7 Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa’, hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other speakers at the event include French finance minister Bruno le Maire and Melinda Gates (see also press release no. 300, 2019). The online presentation of the UNSGSA’s annual report to Secretary-General António Guterres will take place this year on a separate occasion.

The Caribbean countries of the Kingdom will participate in various side events to be held over the next few weeks, covering themes such as the Sustainable Development Goals, small island developing states (SIDS) and climate adaptation.

On Wednesday 23 September foreign minister Stef Blok is hosting a virtual meeting about Syria and the fight against impunity. The Netherlands has been working for years to help achieve justice for the victims of human rights violations in Syria, including through the establishment of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), which is gathering and analysing evidence of crimes committed in Syria. The same day, Mr Blok will join Argentina at the annual UN LGBTI Core Group event in calling for a greater focus on equal rights for LGBTI people around the world. He will also speak about the MH17 disaster to the foreign ministers of the countries that are part of the MH17 Joint Investigation Team. Finally, on Friday 25 September, Mr Blok will take part in the online ‘Building Back Better’ event hosted by the Alliance for Multilateralism.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, is working closely at this year’s General Assembly with YouTube star Nikkie de Jager (‘Nikkie Tutorials’), who recently became an ambassador of the Dutch UN Association (NVVN). Together they will be drawing attention to gender equality, among other issues. On Thursday 24 September, Ms Kaag will host a virtual meeting on mental health and psychosocial support. There she will emphasise that this support helps boost the resilience of both individuals and communities and thus helps prevent conflicts and foster lasting peace. Such support is especially valuable now, with the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.