52nd Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session

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29-Jan-2021 01:15:58
General Assembly takes note of Secretary-General’s report, as it concludes debate on organization’s work, priorities for 2021.

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Delegates Stress Need for Equitable Vaccine Distribution, Renewed Multilateralism

The General Assembly concluded its discussion of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the United Nations today, taking note of his report (document A/75/1), as delegates resoundingly called for a renewed multilateralism that prioritizes the needs of countries in varying degrees of distress as they struggle to emerge stronger than ever from the onslaught of COVID-19.

Nowhere was the call for greater engagement more forceful than in appeals for unfettered and equitable access to a vaccine, which, many speakers reiterated, is a global public good. “Making vaccine accessible to all will be a true acid test of global collaboration,” Nepal’s representative emphasized, urging the extension of greater support to least developed, landlocked and small island developing States in addressing the colossal impact of the coronavirus. Renewed multilateralism demands a more agile, innovative, transparent and inclusive United Nations, he added.

On that point, Botswana’s representative pointed out that the Organization was able to summon its comparative advantage to deliver emergency rescue packages to many countries, despite the degraded multilateral spirit and its own liquidity crisis. However, the pandemic held back its potential to “do even more”, he cautioned. He went on to state that Botswana shares the Secretary-General’s view that a “very radical approach” is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing that related activities should derive from continental frameworks, notably the African Union Vision 2063 on “The Africa We Want”.

Syria’s representative, among other delegates from conflict-affected countries, stressed that the lessons learned from COVID-19 must guide international efforts. Returning to the old ways promoted by some dominant countries — including the imposition of sanctions and flagrant interference in the domestic affairs of other States — is not viable.

Indeed, Fiji’s representative said, as the United Nations shapes its work programme, success will hinge on countries doing their part to “turn the tide”, alongside the Assembly, the G7, G20 and international financial institutions. “We completely support multilateralism,” he said, pointing to the “particularly enhanced” set of vulnerabilities facing small islands that require special attention.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

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