COVID-19 shows UN’s crucial role, says next General Assembly prez

UNITED NATIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the “crucial role” of the United Nations and its agencies, said Volkan Bozkir, who is slated to lead the historic 75th session of the UN General Assembly which begins in September.

Bozkir outlined his priorities as president of the world’s foremost multilateral forum, during a virtual interactive dialogue with UN member states held on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

“The outbreak has coincided with the 75th anniversary of the UN. This is a stark reminder of the importance of effective multilateralism and, particularly, the crucial role of the UN and its agencies,” he said.

As the coronavirus does not see borders or discriminate, he stated that the fight to defeat it should not result in stigmatization, inequality or injustice. “A world free of COVID-19 will require the most extensive public health and social recovery effort all over the world,” he said.

Bozkir commended the prompt action undertaken so far by the United Nations in the face of the crisis, including the adoption of several General Assembly resolutions which stress solidarity and cooperation.

“I truly believe that the General Assembly with its universal membership and equal status of all its members, as well as its democratic credentials, is the most appropriate platform to provide political guidance in responding to the pandemic,” he noted.

Bozkir, who has served with Turkey’s foreign service for nearly 40 years, is the sole candidate for the presidency of the body that brings together all 193 UN member states. He pledged to work toward consolidating trust and cohesion among countries, major groups at the United Nations, and international organizations, and to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have a voice.

With countries embarking on a Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, he called for the world’s least developed countries, landlocked developing nations and small island developing states to remain a top global priority.

“The needs of the African countries and their special circumstances, including the 2063 Agenda, will continue to receive your attention,” he added, referring to the African Union’s blueprint to transform the continent.

“Another cross-cutting priority is to improve the living standards and rights of women. Women’s full and equal participation in all spheres of life, by strengthening their status within society, is an absolute must in all our endeavors.” As president of the UN General Assembly, or PGA, he will be guided by efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and non-discrimination.

“Consensus building will be one of the core efforts during my tenure. I will use the extent possible, the moral authority and the soft power of the PGA. I will allow continuity with the work of the previous PGAs and make improvements where necessary,” he said.

“The overall agenda of our organization requires close coordination among the UN decision-making bodies. I will try to address the gaps and duplications as they relate to the agenda of the General Assembly.”

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