Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation

EU Statement – United Nations 2nd Committee: General Debate

New York, 05/10/2020 - 20:40, UNIQUE ID: 201005_23
Statements on behalf of the EU

5 October 2020, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union delivered by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly Second Committee General debate: Building Back Better after COVID-19: ensuring a more equitable global economy, inclusive societies and sustainable recovery

Thank you Mr. Chair. I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

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

Let me first of all thank Ambassador Niang of the Republic of Senegal and his Bureau members for their excellent work, and congratulate you, Ambassador Rai and the other members of the new bureau on your election and assure you of our full cooperation in the weeks ahead.

This year’s 2C General Debate theme “Building Back Better after COVID-19” could not be more timely.

The crisis caused by the pandemic is unprecedented.

We have all suddenly been thrown into the same struggle against a common threat, but our abilities to respond to it have proven uneven.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused human suffering on a massive scale, and brought economies to a standstill.  Inequalities and marginalisation have reached new heights.  It is the most vulnerable who have suffered most.

Decades of advances in global health, development, poverty reduction, equality and human rights are at risk. Today’s crisis has placed a magnifying glass on the social and economic injustices that bedevil our societies. We must seize this moment to promote a better, stronger and green recovery, based on the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and global biodiversity goals.

The United Nations must play a crucial role in this process. This year’s negotiations on the QCPR give us an opportunity to reinforce the UN’s response. For this reason, the European Union will actively engage to ensure that the UN development system is well equipped to effectively support countries in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and that the reform processes launched in 2018 are consolidated and reinforced.

The European Union for its part has been on the forefront of international cooperation. Even before the crisis, Europe had already embarked on a path of fundamental transformation. For example

by deciding to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Or by adopting an ambitious digital agenda, in line with our core values. in this respect the EU and the Member States welcome the SG's Roadmap on digital cooperation. The pandemic has increased our determination to transform our economies and societies. The crisis has awakened a new collective responsibility, to build back better and greener.

The European Union and its Member States, acting together as ‘Team Europe’, are adapting priorities and programmes with partner countries to help them halt the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to supporting health system responses, assisting economies to withstand the impact of the pandemic, and building the foundations of a long-term recovery that is more equitable and sustainable. The Team Europe global financial response commitment is currently over 36 billion euros.

We are also supporting the development of a fast and equitable access to safe, quality, effective and affordable tests, treatments and vaccines against the Coronavirus. Under the Coronavirus Global Response and the Global Goal Unite campaign, which is strongly supported by the European Union, almost 16 billion euros have been pledged and the European Commission has contributed further 400 million euros to COVAX for working together in purchasing future vaccines, to the benefit of low- and middle-income countries. It is only by working together globally, in solidarity, that we can defeat the coronavirus, and this year’s Second Committee provides us with an important platform to achieve this.

The window to address the planetary emergency of climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and resource depletion is almost shut. The COVID-19 pandemic has not reduced these threats. On the contrary, it has made us aware of the fragility of our life on this planet. Recovering from the pandemic will require more sustainable investment to get our economies going, but our actions must protect our environment and contribute to addressing climate change. It will require determined action to leave no one behind.

We should also use the recovery from the pandemic as an opportunity

  • to make our way of life and economies more sustainable and equal
  • to ensure we invest in climate and nature-positive action and mainstream climate and biodiversity in all sectoral policies and budgeting
  • to make our ways of producing and consuming sustainable
  • to protect, restore and draw from nature sustainably and in a way which underpins our health and prosperity, secures our food and makes us and our societies more resilient
  • to strengthen health systems and apply an integrated “One Health” approach, comprising human, animal and ecosystems health, to achieve better public health outcomes, and prevent and be better prepared for future epidemics.

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to advance, we have been forced to revise, again and again, data and projections to account for increasing numbers of lives, jobs and livelihoods lost and threatened by the disease and its socio-economic impacts. But we have also seen unprecedented alliances, achievements and innovation: rapid transition to digital technologies, with their challenges but also their extraordinary opportunities; innovation towards a new generation of finance products and infrastructure; and creation of ambitious social protection programmes, implemented at a scale never seen before. None of this would have been possible without partnerships.

The role of partnerships to support recovery better and help us get back on track to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be overestimated. 

As we pave the way for a sustainable and inclusive longer-term recovery, the European Union supports an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, coupled with tailored work on debt restructurings, where needed and on a case-by-case basis.

Investment, tackling illicit financial flows and debt restructuring are key elements of sustainable recovery and as such have to be an integral part of a comprehensive review of financing strategies, with a view to:

  • ensuring sound public financial management;
  • providing transparent financial flows information;
  • reporting on and internalize the real social and environmental costs of actions;
  • establishing fair and greener tax systems;
  • and increasing alignment of public and private finance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the 2030-Agenda, the Paris Agreement and global biodiversity goals.

The Second Committee has an important role to play in building back better. Mr. Chair, we thank you for the 2C modalities paper and welcome it. We particularly support your focus on the resolutions with programmatic impacts and open mandates, on the QCPR as well as on the mid-term comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, Water for Sustainable Development.

We are also supportive of your proposal to limit negotiations on all other resolutions to technical updates and to a limited number of COVID paragraphs consisting of one cross-cutting paragraph and no more than one PP for substantive COVID-19 related aspects, and one OP for action-oriented solutions.  We are looking forward to negotiating this COVID language in an inclusive and transparent manner. We believe a pragmatic approach to this year’s 2C is indeed the best way forward. We look forward to receiving the drafts early, in an editable format and in track-changes, with cited sources of new language, where it is available to facilitate negotiations. This will allow for smoother negotiations, and avoid losing time during the first informals.

Furthermore, we should implement the 2C revitalisation decision to the largest extent possible. We are also committed to honouring our previous agreements and are looking forward to the inclusion of Leave No One Behind language in the three relevant resolutions, and are willing to discuss these with all interested delegations during the informal consultations.  

Allow me to stress that under the current circumstances and in light of the above, that we will not have the time, nor the capacity, to consider any new draft proposals. We count on all UNMS to abide by your encouragement to defer the submission of new draft proposals to a future session.

As during previous sessions, we do not plan to intervene in the debate on specific agenda items. We continue to be of the opinion that the thematic discussions have limited value and are highly repetitive of the general debate and of discussions in side events and joint meetings.

Finally, most of the 2C work will and should be done in a virtual manner. In this regard, the EU does not feel the need to have in-person meetings for the adoption of consensus resolutions that can easily be adopted under a silence procedure.

Mr. Chair, to conclude, the European Union and its Member States [will continue to be a driving force for multilateralism and the rules-based international order. Our support for the UN remains as strong as ever, and the EU and its Member States] are looking forward to working with all partners during this 2C session with the aim of achieving outcomes that will support Building Back Better and that will ensure a more equitable global economy, inclusive societies and sustainable recovery.

Thank you Mr Chair.


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

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