UNGA’s 75th anniversary session opens amid pandemic

By The SATimes News Service

United Nations: The 75th anniversary session of the United Nations General Assembly opened against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his opening remarks, new General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir asked UN member states to uphold multilateralism.

“The context in which we are working serves to remind us of the necessity of the multilateral system and inspires us all to make use of the UN Charter to address our collective challenges,” he said referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bozkir said he intended to hold in-person meetings of the General Assembly as long as health conditions allow, with the necessary mitigation measures to protect the health and safety of delegates and UN staff.

“In our business of diplomacy, there is no substitute to meeting counterparts face-to-face to build long-term understanding of each other’s positions and forge compromise,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his opening remarks, warmly congratulated Bozkir on his new role and pledged his full support.

This year will be a critical one in the life of the world organization. The United Nations must continue to respond to the immediate impact of COVID-19 by strengthening health systems and supporting the development and equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines. It must also prepare to build a strong recovery, based on the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said.

All the while, the General Assembly will continue with its work across the full range of global challenges: peace and security, disarmament, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development, said Guterres.

Guterres thanked Bozkir for his support for the UN reform agenda, and his commitment to working closely with his office and with the UN Secretariat as a whole. “The entire Secretariat is ready to offer you all our cooperation and support, and I wish you a very successful mandate,” he said.

The world leaders will be speaking through pre-recorded videos to the Assembly’ high-level meeting next week at its chamber in New York with only a token cadre of socially-distanced diplomats.

There has been speculation that US President Donald Trump may come in person to the meeting but Bozkir said that he had not seen any official notification.

Image courtesy of (credit: Wikipedia)

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