General Assembly meeting

Research Snapshot: Is there renewed public interest in this year’s United Nations General Assembly?

Nendirmwa Noel
Nendirmwa Noel

With the pandemic affecting in-person meetings globally, it seems last year’s media coverage of the United Nations General Assembly suffered from the lack of usual “buzz” as the meeting was completely virtual, as covered in our analysis.

However, according to a Nexis Uni search, for the majority of major news publications, numbers indicate that this year’s High-Level Week at the United Nations General Assembly saw a significant rise in coverage from the previous year, with coverage doubling and more in line with pre-pandemic numbers.

Part of the reason for this uptick could be that this year’s General Assembly saw a hybrid return to the New York-based gathering, with several delegations engaging in more “corridor” diplomacy which created more content for the media to cover such as Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden’s meeting as well as unfolding situations like Afghanistan.

Additionally, this year also heralded President Biden’s first speech to the General Assembly within the context of the US retreat from multilateral agreements in the past administration, as well as high profile incidents in the days preceding that seemed to challenge Secretary Blinken’s statement that “America is Back.”

Coverage this year also seemed to indicate a growing wariness on whether multilateral institutions have been able to keep their promise of “building back better.” There is a felt need for united leadership in a time when the crisis of the pandemic is not only at a breaking point for people’s health but also on the economic welfare of billions around the world.

However, it goes without saying that the true test of UN effectiveness is not media coverage, but whether it can demonstrate actionable progress on the promise of “building back better.”


Methodology note: These search terms were checked in the Nexis Uni database, and while numbers may fluctuate slightly due to a lag in articles being uploaded, the general trend remains unchanged.

Photo credit: General Assembly Meets on Organization of Work and Follow-up to Durban Declaration (UN Photo/Loey Felipe).

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