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UN General Assembly president calls for multilateralism in fight against COVID-19

4 December 2020 14:45
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UN General Assembly president calls for multilateralism in fight against COVID-19

UNITED NATIONS. KAZINFORM - UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir on Thursday called for UN leadership and multilateralism in the fight against COVID-19, Xinhua reports.

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«This (General Assembly) Hall is where nations come together, where they unite. This august body, the General Assembly, is the voice, will, and conscience of humanity. The world is looking to the UN for leadership to step up and take demonstrable action to address the greatest challenge our world is facing today,» he told a General Assembly special session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

«This crisis compels us to shake up how things are done, to be bold, and to restore confidence and trust in the United Nations. No other institution is as far-reaching, as mandated or as normatively better placed. The United Nations must lead on this.»

This is not a time for finger-pointing, but for collective action to end the suffering of the peoples around the world, he said.

«Since the beginning, I have been convinced that holding this special session was a test for multilateralism, defined by our collective action on the most critical issue of our time. And it is in no way the end of our joint response and recovery from the pandemic.»

The world was not prepared for COVID-19, but it has to be prepared for the next pandemic, climate catastrophe or global recession because a crisis of this magnitude will come and the world will have to meet it when it does, he said.

Bozkir called for a global response to the pandemic that goes beyond efforts to simply target a return to the status quo ante.

Above all, he called for fair and equitable access to vaccines, saying that providing everyone with access to COVID-19 vaccines is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

«From a moral standpoint, we have an obligation to leave no one behind and to protect the most vulnerable. From a practical standpoint, the value of any vaccine is entirely dependent on how many people can get it. So we must strengthen political and resource mobilization for multilateral initiatives that aim towards fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.»

Bozkir called for efforts to protect the most vulnerable countries that are lagging behind, most notably the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.

«We must ensure that adequate financial resources are available to achieve an inclusive and resilient recovery. We need to join forces to address the challenges of debt vulnerability and diminished fiscal space. I encourage international financial institutions and partner countries to do what they can to ease debt burdens, facilitate investment, and leverage development assistance during this crucial period. If necessary, we must pool financial resources to create investment funds.»

The pandemic has also highlighted the need for more investment in social and health services around the world, he said, calling for projects for social inclusion of the most vulnerable groups and for universal health coverage.

While tackling the immediate consequences of the pandemic, there is also a need to work toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as investments toward the SDGs can serve as both a means and an end toward a post-COVID recovery, he said.

Bozkir also said that policies to combat the pandemic should not undermine democratic institutions.

«Our response to this crisis must be shaped by, and uphold respect for, human rights. Our policies should be universal, open, transparent, accountable, and inclusive. Promoting good governance, respecting the rule of law and allocating resources for the most vulnerable people will in fact support our response to the pandemic by making our societies more equitable and resilient.»

The world is at the beginning of the largest socio-economic recovery since the creation of the United Nations. If properly planned and coordinated, recovery from COVID-19 has the potential to jumpstart the SDGs, accelerate action on resilient infrastructure, improve access to education and health care, and better protect the environment, he said.

When the United Nations was founded in 1945, skeptics thought the idea of a multilateral system, with an organization of unparalleled legitimacy at its core, to be impossible. But even at that time of unimaginable tragedy of world war, the world came together -- for the sake of humanity, he said. «I am sure, we will be able to do that once again.»



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