– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
I welcome you to this historic joint briefing with the President of the Security Council, the President of the Economic and Social Council and the Secretary-General.
Although we are not sitting together, be rest assured that we are in this together. Solidarity is our first line of defence against the COVID-19 pandemic. We must arm ourselves with information in order to halt the spread of fear and hate in our effort to defeat COVID-19, our newest challenge.
The United Nations is best placed to lead the multilateral response and has done so since the outset of this global challenge.
Together, Excellencies, we will continue to ensure that the General Assembly is able to continue its vital work and perform essential functions under these extraordinary circumstances. All facilitators have been busy with their important tasks. We know, for example, that the General Assembly needs to take action on budget decisions. It is in this light that we commend the Fifth Committee for successfully utilising technology to ensure that urgent decisions could be taken on the budget.
The World Health Organisation has been razor-sharp focussed on this pandemic from the beginning of this outbreak, offering reliable information and consistently assuring us that we can defeat this virus. We must not only defeat the spread of the virus, but also mitigate the social and economic impact of this catastrophe.
I welcome the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan which will coordinate the response of key UN agencies to aid people in the most fragile contexts. Furthermore, I applaud the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.
Member States have shown commendable leadership by continually working on initiatives at the United Nations to assist developing countries to address COVID-19.
I call on Member States to follow through on their commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development to build resilience and prevent inequalities from deepening.
The first high-level meeting of the 74th session of the General Assembly was focused on global health. In a landmark political declaration on universal health coverage, Heads of State and Government committed to scale up national and global efforts to build a healthier world for all.
Communities around the world are now experiencing at a deeper level the message expressed by world leaders in September: that health is an investment in human capital, social and economic development and the empowerment of all people.
Indeed, the novel coronavirus is a reminder that humanity is only as safe as its most vulnerable groups. The related social and economic fallouts of COVID-19 threaten to plunge people deeper into poverty.
We need to galvanise multilateral action now to protect gains made towards the eradication of poverty and zero hunger, as this crisis puts a strain on food production and supply chains among others.
We must also implement a targeted response to safeguard the future of this generation that is experiencing disruption in their education, as schools close in over 130 Member States; with many lacking the connectivity required to continue education through ICT-based distance learning.
Combating COVID-19 is a collective responsibility. We will be defined by our actions – both individual and collective. We must lead by example. We must stay at home, abide by social distancing recommendations, wash our hands, and look out for one another. I salute our healthcare workers and those in the frontline combatting this disease.
The novel coronavirus does not recognise borders, thus we must rise to this challenge as nations, united. This, too, shall pass.
In this 75th year of the United Nations, the peoples we serve are relying on us, perhaps now more than ever. Let us strive together to overcome the latest challenge to humanity. I am certain we can do so.
I thank you.