Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Explanation of Vote: United Nations General Assembly: after the COVID-19 Omnibus resolution

New York, 12/09/2020 - 03:24, UNIQUE ID: 200911_16
Statements on behalf of the EU

11 September 2020, New York – Explanation of Vote delivered by Germany on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly after the resolution “Comprehensive and coordinated response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this Explanation of Vote.

  • Allow us to start by praising your leadership, Mr President, throughout the unprecedented suspension of in-person meetings at the UN Headquarters in the last six months. You not only ensured the business continuity of the work of the General Assembly, in extraordinary circumstances. You also safeguarded its orderly functioning and policy coherence, mainly through the initiative of a comprehensive resolution encompassing all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis and the coordinated response expected from the UN and the international community.


  • We also express our gratitude to the two Coordinators, Ambassadors Simonovic and Raz, and their teams, for their tireless efforts aimed at accommodating the concerns from across the membership. When the project of the Omnibus resolution was initiated, many were sceptical on the chances to finalise a text acceptable for all Member States. Throughout the various Town Hall meetings, a transparent consultation process, as well as a number of more specific engagements to try and narrow the remaining differences, you have embodied the cooperation and unity required from the international community in these difficult times.


  • The EU and its Member States have worked with partners in a spirit of compromise to allow the GA to adopt this resolution by consensus. We are convinced that, in view of the universal impact of Covid-19, which affects all our citizens, we need a united response of the General Assembly, stressing the central role of the UN system in responding to the pandemic and its immediate consequences, but also in recovering and rebuilding better.


  • We have therefore made significant compromises in a number of areas where we would have preferred more ambition in view of their importance for the Covid and recovery context, ranging from climate and the environment, to human rights and civil society, or on the OP20 where we have shown maximum flexibility but were ready to accept the text presented by the coordinators.


  • We also thank Member States for the largely constructive spirit in which this negotiation was conducted, and certainly acknowledge the concessions made by other delegations.


  • Overall, we believe this draft resolution is a comprehensive and balanced document, which accurately reflects the different views of Member States and addresses the most important challenges the world is facing and creates the conditions for strengthening the international community’s capacity to act, including by supporting the Secretary General’s and the UN system’s initiatives related to Covid-19.


  • While we would have liked to see stronger references to human rights, we recognise the efforts of the co-coordinators to find a balance between the different positions expressed on the matter. The coronavirus pandemic affects everyone and every aspect of our lives, but not uniformly. It increases existing inequalities between and within countries. The resolution rightly calls for the international community to join forces to combat inequalities, discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the context of the COVID-19 response and to leave no one behind. This is the time for us to set aside differences and rally behind this greater cause.


  • The acknowledgement of the central role of the World Health Organisation is also essential, as well as the reference to the important ‘One Health approach’ to prevent future health threats, including in particular zoonotic diseases.


  • We strongly support the provisions reflecting the need to fully address the climate and environmental emergencies, even if we would have preferred even stronger language in that regard. Addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution with urgency and ambition is indispensable, both to prevent future zoonotic diseases and to make us more resilient for future global shocks, “Building back better” must also mean “building back greener”.


  • Finally, it was important to acknowledge the significant role digital technologies played in mitigating the crisis and show the potentials but also spelling out the associated challenges, like the digital divide and the risks posed by new technologies.


  • We regret that despite our extreme flexibility on OP20, where we were ready to support the final proposal of the coordinators, a number of Member States have considered it necessary to introduce an amendment.


Despite its imperfections, and having in mind the primary imperative of a strong, united message from the General Assembly in facing this crisis, we strongly support the adoption of this important resolution.

Thank you.

* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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