I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
We deeply regret the decision to call a vote on Operational Paragraph 7. Voting on the draft resolution before us sent a terribly wrong signal to people around the world on our commitment to provide a united response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We believe that Afghanistan and Croatia conducted the negotiations of this draft resolution in a diligent, fair and transparent manner and we commend them for their genuine efforts to reflect the different views expressed on the matter.
As outlined by the World Health Organisation, the disruption of access to essential health services due to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the lives of millions of women around the world. The lack of access to those services represent a risk of reversing decades of progress, exacerbating maternal mortality and morbidity, and increasing rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. We cannot turn a blind eye on this emergency.
The European Union advocated for much stronger references throughout the text. We recognise however that the practice of this Assembly is to revert to the most recently agreed language when there is no agreement on alternative wording. OP7 is based on agreed language from the General Assembly resolution on Fistula presented by the African Group.
The UN membership, many of whom hold divergent views on the issue at hand, have always been able to agree this language. This illustrates how carefully crafted and balanced this longstanding paragraph is.
For these reasons, we voted in favour of keeping OP7 in the text.