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UNGA president urges world to galvanize multilateral action as COVID-19 rages

(Xinhua)    09:47, September 04, 2020

President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (front) chairs a meeting of UNGA at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 3, 2020. Adhering to physical-distancing guidelines, the United Nations General Assembly met fully in-person on Thursday for the first time in nearly six months, with its president urging all members to "galvanize multilateral action to deliver for all," as the COVID-19 pandemic continues sweeping the world. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Adhering to physical-distancing guidelines, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) met fully in-person on Thursday for the first time in nearly six months, with its president urging all members to "galvanize multilateral action to deliver for all," as the COVID-19 pandemic continues sweeping the world.

"Although we have not convened in this hall since March, New York-based delegations have worked tirelessly to uphold the values and principles set out in the Charter of the United Nations, whilst contending with the COVID-19 pandemic," Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told the downsized delegations from member states.


Calling the UNGA the UN's "chief deliberative body," Muhammad-Bande said that it continued the organization's work, all while forging and deepening partnerships to "build back better."

"As the chief deliberative body of the United Nations, this Assembly has continued the work of our organization throughout the period. It has done so in full partnership with the Secretariat and all other UN organs," the UNGA president elaborated.

He commended the body for its foresight in adopting and extending Decision 74/544, which has allowed the membership to adopt more than 70 decisions and resolutions and elect main committees' chairs for the upcoming milestone 75th Assembly session.

"This has ensured business continuity on issues of critical importance."

He recalled the body's physically-distanced elections for the incoming presidents of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UNGA itself; as well as new Security Council members.

"We employed virtual methods to gather stakeholders from around the world on Charter Day, and once again at the multi-stakeholder hearing on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW)," said Muhammad-Bande, thanking the Secretariat for its "continued commitment."

On May 22, 2019, the UNGA agreed to convene a high-level meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the FWCW, which was held in Beijing, China in September 1995. UNGA Resolution 73/249 calls for a one-day meeting on the margins of the General Debate of the 75th UNGA session.


Muhammad-Bande also applauded the work of the intergovernmental negotiations on the declaration for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

World leaders will mark the UN's 75th anniversary on Sept. 21 at a high-level meeting. On this occasion, they will endorse, through the adoption of a declaration, a renewed vision for collective global action and a set of commitments to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, extreme poverty, armed conflict, disarmament, disruptive technologies and other global challenges.

Muhammad-Bande also thanked the member states that had "demonstrated leadership" in responding to the global pandemic by adopting two resolutions "with wide co-sponsorship" calling for solidarity and global access to medicines and medical equipment.

Moreover, the UNGA president congratulated the Fifth Committee Chair - responsible for administrative and budgetary matters - for "adopting creative methods" that allowed the resumed session to conclude with 21 draft recommendations, and a peacekeeping budget of 6.5 billion U.S. dollars for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

"Your work has ensured that the United Nations can continue to operate on the ground and meet the needs of the people we serve," he said.


Muhammad-Bande has once and again underscored the importance of inclusion when talking about multilateralism.

Speaking at "The UN Charter at 75: Multilateralism in a Fragmented World" in June, Muhammad-Bande said that "for effective governance to work, we need a more inclusive multilateralism guided by the rights of individuals."

At today's UNGA meeting, Muhammad-Bande applauded the World Health Organization (WHO) for leading the COVID-19 response from the outset.

"The entire UN system has rallied to address the needs of the people we serve," he said, with particular praise for "our humanitarian workers in the field and our peacekeepers," who continue to protect communities in the most complex environments globally.

Muhammad-Bande stressed the importance of these efforts "as we begin the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, or as it is likely to become, the decade of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."

The UN will mark its 75th anniversary with a one-day high-level meeting at the opening of the 75th session of the UNGA. The theme for this event will be: "The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism."

Multilateralism, as always, remains the guiding principle for the coming UNGA session, but with a special focus this year placed on taking multilateral action to combat the imminent threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I urge you to galvanize multilateral action now to fulfill our financing for development commitments," the UNGA president said in conclusion. "We remain in this together, as nations, united. Let us continue striving together to deliver for all."


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(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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