Thank you, Madam Vice-President.
I am delivering this statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The candidate countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania align themselves with this statement.
Let me start by thanking the President for convening this meeting. It is important that the GA stays very closely engaged on the ‘Common Agenda’, making it a priority to follow up to the SG’s report with recommendations during the upcoming session.
Mr Secretary-General, let me start by congratulating you to your reappointment and reassure you of the EU’s continued strong support towards achieving our common objectives. I’d like to thank you very much for taking your time to report back to us on the consultations and dialogues that have taken place following the adoption of the UN75 Declaration last September, and to share your outlook on the steps ahead.
We commend the way you and your team have orchestrated the follow-up to the Declaration, engaging not only the UN membership, but also civil society and youth across the four different tracks.
We would also strongly advocate for ensuring that this regular and inclusive consultation and engagement of external stakeholders becomes the “new way of working” of the UN – one that harnesses the engagement by the “peoples”. From grassroots peace and reconciliation movements to the private sector’s willingness to finance development and invest in the SDGs, benefitting from the transformational boost of – in particular - young peoples’ trust in international cooperation necessary to achieve the truly inclusive and networked multilateralism you have so passionately advocated for and for which you have the EU’s full support!
Many of us have actively participated in the various initiatives, including the breakfast dialogues, and we very much appreciated the space created for an open and frank discussion on how to implement the 12 commitments agreed in the Political Declaration – our roadmap for action. These dialogues were a good example of the UN’s power as a convener and catalyst for action.
In particular, our global youth representatives have impressed us with their maturity, clarity, commitment and determination with which they very credibly demanded a seat at the decision-making table. For the EU, there is no doubt that opening the UN up to civil society, our young people, the private sector, and academia, brings gains to both sides. There is – still unfulfilled – a social contract between governments as signatories to the UN Charter and “we the peoples”. Our ‘Common Agenda’ should aim to fill this gap.
Mr Secretary-General, we fully support your ideas of a new kind of multilateralism you have mentioned in your speech, one that is built on the principle of solidarity – solidarity between people, between nations, between current and future generations, between people and institutions. A new social contract as you called it, Mr Secretary-General, which helps rebuild trust in institutions at all levels.
It starts with a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the globe. To make sure everyone is safe – and despite lots of progress, we are still a long a way off to reach this goal. Covax is the best multilateral tool to channel our efforts for vaccine distribution. But more needs to be done. We are in favour of giving more teeth to WHO and further strengthen the global health infrastructure - as a preventive measure and modelled on multilateral governing structures in other areas.
It continues with our building back better and greener agenda. We need to build upon the work done within the Financing for Developing track to support developing countries. Continue efforts on debt relief, while strengthening the countries’ health systems. We must also ensure 2021 will indeed bring a leap forward for climate and biodiversity. The 2 CoPs coming up in Glasgow and in Kunming are major occasions for turning the tide on what you, Mr Secretary-General, have called the ‘defining challenge of our time’. By taking the necessary decisions to implement the Paris Agreement, by agreeing an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and by concluding the negotiations on BBNJ.
The UN is a convener, a norm-setter and an open forum. We strongly commend your leadership and unwavering commitment, Mr Secretary-General, in strengthening the UN’s ability in all three areas. However, it is our common responsibility in helping you and the organisation you lead achieve these goals. As much as it is a question of global solidarity, it is also a question of a political will – both have often been lacking.
The pandemic has not only caught us of off guard, with all the suffering, losses and disruptions you mentioned. It has further laid bare the shortcomings of the global governance system and has put us further behind on many of our policy goals, including the SDGs, or over-shadowed others, such as the deteriorating human rights situation around the globe. Rather than allowing Covid19 to derail our ambitious agenda and actions, we should consider the pandemic as a unique window of opportunity for decisive action towards preserving our ‘global commons’. We believe this is best achieved through stronger international cooperation based on a rules-based system.
That is why, Mr Secretary-General, we are very much looking forward to your report, which we hope will provide us with a frank analysis of the shortcomings of the global governance system and bold and ambitious recommendations of how we can overcome these shortcomings through an effective, inclusive and networked multilateralism –with an upgraded UN at its core. A UN that is more inclusive, more transparent, well-equipped to defend its core values, from ensuring equality to upholding multilingualism, aimed at better delivery on our main priorities. By improving our preparedness and response to global crises. Be it the next pandemic, climate-and environment-related risks, the broader peace and security threats, humanitarian disasters or violations of human rights and international law and international humanitarian law, and bridging the digital divide.
We fully agree with you, Mr Secretary-General, that we are at a crossroad for defining a better common future. We must not waste this opportunity. The world and in particular our young generation - is watching. We have all made a pledge in Charter and in the UN75 Declaration. Let us live up to it! You can count on the EU’s full support in taking forward your recommendations, Mr Secretary-General.
I thank you.