- Check against delivery -
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The EU supports the UN Culture of Peace agenda, which reflects our core values, goals, and actions. We are convinced that discussing, in the UN General Assembly, the respect for life and non-violence, democratic participation, human rights and fundamental freedoms, peaceful settlement of conflicts, solidarity and cooperation for development, equal rights and opportunities for all help to bridge divides across and within societies worldwide, and help to advance the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Resolution 53/243 encapsulates ideas and commitments whose relevance is just as pertinent today as was the case in 1999. Therefore, we welcome the opportunity that today’s High-Level Forum offers to deepen the reflections on empowering and transforming humanity.
The Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating socio-economic consequences contribute to enhancing the risk of increased tensions inside societies and between nations. So far, opportunities resulting from the pandemic to change our world for the better have not yet been seized, be it on universal access to the future vaccine, the need to invest in a more inclusive and sustainable global recovery, or in response to the Secretary-General’s Appeal for a global ceasefire. In the coming months, the world is likely to see poverty and exclusion exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. The access to education has already become a challenge even among developed countries. A burning question arises how shall we effectively fight with the virus on behalf of the most vulnerable, especially women and children, older persons, persons with disabilities, conflict-affected populations living under already dire humanitarian conditions with extremely poor, or non-existent public services, including health-care systems. Levels and various forms of inequalities as well as cases of discrimination are growing rapidly. As the 2020 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World has confirmed, five years after the world committed to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition are on the rise: World hunger increased up by 10 million people in 2019, and countries continue to struggle with multiple forms of malnutrition. There is an urgent need to increase investments in attaining the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement and thereby deliver on our promise to current and future generations.
However, with the pandemic we have also seen multiple examples of solidarity, in countries and between nations, not least inside and from the European Union, and multiple examples of heart and heroism by caregivers and healthcare providers.
The UN System must rise to these challenges and to the courage demonstrated by so many people during the pandemic, and contribute through its initiatives to implementing the culture of peace agenda. By doing so, the UN System should ensure a strong participation of civil society, which continues to be a key player for advancing the culture of peace agenda.
In the Covid-19 context, the EU has continued to act in the spirit of the culture of peace agenda, including by strongly supporting the Appeal for a global ceasefire, by significantly contributing to the UN Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response, and by a flagship initiative in favour of global access to vaccine, diagnostics and treatments.
The EU will remain engaged in all of the important areas covered by the culture of peace agenda, including through the implementation of its policies, programmes and strategies, and will continue to work in close cooperation and partnership with the international community.