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

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: Resolution on Combating COVID-19

New York, 15/09/2020 - 01:42, UNIQUE ID: 200915_21
Statements on behalf of the EU

14 September 2020, New York - General Statement of EU and EU Member States and aligning countries at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Resolution on the United Response against Global Health Threats; Combating COVID-19 under Agenda item 123: Strengthening of the United Nations System

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, Serbia and Albania and the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina align themselves with this statement.

Acknowledging your leadership, Mr. President, in these still challenging times we are grateful for the opportunity for exchange provided last Friday and today.

COVID-19 remains an unprecedented challenge and all our efforts are still focused on mitigating the effects of this pandemic. In doing so the world guided by UN leadership undertook already enormous efforts. We also negotiated an overarching omnibus resolution on COVID-19 over the last months, which was meant to cover all topics holistically and avoid different initiatives on particular aspects.

We were therefore surprised by seeing this resolution on the agenda again as it brings us back to the very first days of the pandemic. In April quick responses by the UN and its membership were of utmost importance to demonstrate that we unite in difficult times. This resolution was an important contribution at that time and we were ready to compromise on process and content in the interest of unity.

But even then the process was problematic for us. While acknowledging the opportunities that were provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to submit comments on this resolution and while appreciating that some of them were taken into consideration, we would have preferred more in-depth consultations and established timelines, which would have allowed for an inclusive and transparent consultation process.

The resolution itself includes a number of important elements, nevertheless for us a COVID-19 resolution even at that time should have included:

- an acknowledgment of the central role of the WHO;

- expressing support for the appeal of the Secretary General of 23 March for an immediate global cease-fire,

- expressing support for the consolidated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan,

- a clear commitment to a human rights and gender equality perspective in the COVID-19 response, both in the short as well as in the long term

- acknowledging the need to respect the rights to privacy and protection of personal data when exchanging epidemiological and clinical data.

- reaffirmation of the UN’s determination to seize every opportunity in the emergency and recovery efforts to accelerate sustainability action, i.a. on climate change

- recognition, that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for protecting the world's environment and biodiversity to prevent new epidemics.

As mentioned, our agreement to let this resolution pass in April was strongly influenced by the need of a quick and united response to the crisis and the lack of modalities for negotiations at that time.

Today, the context is completely different. While we acknowledge the important stimulus this resolution gave in April we are disappointed that no efforts were undertaken for further consultations although that would have been feasible. We also see some of the elements in the resolution are already outdated by developments in the meantime. Furthermore  all aspects are now captured in the omnibus resolution, which was meant to supersede all initiatives on COVID-19.

This resolution raises important concerns as it is not conducive to the coherence of the UNGA’s response to COVID-19.

Let me conclude: Please be assured that the EU stands firmly united in this crisis and is ready to play its part. EU Member States are fully supportive of a united response to this crisis, and will continue to support the close cooperation and united multilateral approaches in combatting this unprecedented crisis.

Thank you.

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