Multilateralism in alive: Abdulla Shahid in 76th UNGA closing speech

United Nations: In the middle of the global Covid-19 crisis, the UN high-level session was closed on September 27 by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, who credited its success to “excellent mitigation measures” and high vaccination rates. 

According to the UN website, he said, “Yet, our true measure of success remains our willingness and ability to engage in dialogue and to put our faith in the multilateral system.” 

The UN president emphasized the need for gender neutrality. 

President Abdulla Shahid claimed that 194 speakers, including 100 heads of state, 52 heads of government, three vice presidents, and 34 ministers, spoke on the renowned green marble podium in the last week. 

“I trust you are as encouraged as I am by the strong showing of our return to in-person diplomacy,” said the Assembly President, who was overjoyed that the UN’s hallways and cafeterias were once again filled with dialogue, debate, laughter and compromise. However, he noted that only 18 of the 194 speakers this year were women, emphasizing that more needs to be done to tip the scales in balance. 

“I have already held a specific discussion on how to enhance gender equality with female Heads of State and Government, as well as the European Union (EU),” he stated. 

While much was discussed during the last week, a consistent set of topics emerged, particularly Covid-19, climate change, peace, security, and instability risks. 

Shahid asserted that the UN must address these concerns. He said, “In a manner that turns every challenge into an opportunity.. an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and deliver results on the ground.” 

He added, “The fact that each of these issues were so prevalent speaks volumes as to what the world wants. There is no time for complacency, the world is calling for more action, not less.” 

In conclusion, he stated that the session revealed ‘two truths.’ Shahid assured, “However much we may disagree on tactics, our final purpose is very much the same. Multilateralism is indeed alive and well.” 

He hailed it as a sign of a world that continues to trust in conversation and diplomacy, and reposes its faith in a United Nations that is able and ready. He cited the fact that so many people talked, engaged, discussed, and disputed on multiple issues. “Let us find hope in these facts and work with a feeling of responsibility and resolve for the remainder of the 76th session,” the Assembly President stated. 

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