Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: Briefing by the Secretary-General on his priorities for 2021

New York, 28/01/2021 - 16:32, UNIQUE ID: 210128_10
Statements on behalf of the EU

28 January 2021, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Plenary meeting on the Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization – Item 115 - A/75/1: Briefing by the Secretary-General on his priorities for 2021

Mr President, Mr Secretary-General,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the EU and its 27 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 the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

Mister Secretary-General, thank you very much for sharing your report on the actions taken by this organisation during the previous session and for presenting your priorities for the critical year ahead.

We consider the report to be an important reminder of the indispensable, wide-ranging action of the UN and welcome its evolution into a more reader-friendly format. Given the intimate link between the work already done and the future priorities, we propose that this report in the future incorporates both dimensions.

We appreciate your continued strong dedication and leadership in having the organization come together under very challenging circumstances, and keeping it focused on our most pressing global challenges. All of which are well-captured in the UN75 Political Declaration, whichtogether with the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement – should serve as our roadmap going forward. Its implementation should be a priority during this session.

Au cœur de la déclaration se trouve la conviction, que nous partageons pleinement, que les nombreux défis mondiaux ne peuvent être résolus que par un multilatéralisme inclusif, avec l’ONU en son centre. Pour maintenir son fonctionnement efficace, nous devons continuer à mettre en œuvre le processus de réforme que vous avez si habilement piloté, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, et assurer un financement suffisant et durable afin de permettre à l’ONU de remplir son rôle ô combien crucial.

Esperamos con gran interés sus recomendaciones sobre la manera de avanzar nuestra agenda en común y de mejorar la gobernanza mundial de los bienes comunes globales antes del final de esta sesión. Le animamos a tratar de ello con el mayor número posible de interesados posible y a ser ambicioso y audaz en sus recomendaciones. Puede contar con la participación constructiva de la Unión Europea. 

Providing a comprehensive response to the Covid19 pandemic remains our top priority. As immediate priority, we must ensure universal, equitable, safe and affordable global access to Covid 19 vaccines and their fair distribution, prioritizing the most vulnerable and leaving no one behind. Even though EU countries have been amongst the most affected by Covid-19, international solidarity was from day one embedded in our vaccine strategy, based on the conviction that no one will be safe until everyone is safe! This is why we are strong supporters of the COVAX Facility, which we see as the best route to international vaccine solidarity. The EU helped create and has financed Covax with more than USD 1 billion so far,

We warmly welcome the US announcement to join the initiative, and are encouraged to hear that the facility is on track to deliver at least 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion doses to 92 lower-income countries

Global solidarity also entails addressing the severe socio-economic crisis the pandemic has triggered, disproportionately affecting developing countries and vulnerable groups. The initiative you launched together with Canada and Jamaica last May under the Financing for Development umbrella, in which the EU got strongly involved, has been very welcome, and we stand ready to follow-up on the very concrete recommendations on how to address rising global debt and to provide financing solutions.

Turning this initiative into success, would also mean progress towards achieving the SDGs, on which the pandemic has put us further behind. We need to step up during this crucial Decade of Action to ensure progress made is not lost. The current pandemic has also exacerbated existing food insecurities. We therefore welcome your ambition to transform food systems and look forward to the well-designed Food Systems Summit in September.

As you just said in Davos:  climate change and biodiversity loss are existential crises, and 2021 will be a decisive year for global action, with two major CoPs in Glasgow and Kunming. Past months have seen strong commitments from many global leaders towards climate neutrality by 2050 and towards reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. We call on all to join in a new race to the top! We must turn the tide by implementing the Paris Agreement – and let me strongly welcome back our American friends – by agreeing an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and by concluding BBNJ negotiations. We welcome all initiatives aimed at delivering concrete contributions to these processes, such as the High-Level Stockholm+50 meeting in Sweden in June 2022. We also appreciate your continuous engagement in taking forward the Ocean agenda.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms is another key area of concern, which has been exacerbated by Covid19. The EU supports the effective implementation of your Call to Action. We would be in favour of a follow-up in the GA around the upcoming first anniversary of the call. An important element contained therein is the commitment to strengthen protection for human rights defenders. In New York, NGOs still face obstacles to participation in key events, while those engaging with the UN in the field face increased threats and reprisals. We count on your leadership, Mr Secretary-General, to implement an UN-wide strategy to promote and protect civil society and human rights defenders.

The EU will also remain strongly committed to strengthening our rules-based system, ensuring compliance with the rule of law and our continued support to bring accountability, and fight impunity, including via the ICC. All this must remain at the heart of the UN’s work.

As a concrete follow-up to your call for ‘peace at home’ - one of the very good policy briefs you put out last spring in response to Covid19 -, the EU helped launch a new Group of Friends for the elimination of violence against women and girls. The initiative already counts around 90 members - I encourage all of you to join! But women and girls should not only be seen through the lens of SGBV – in fact, the full involvement and empowerment of women and girls in the ‘building back better’-process and in achieving the UN’s 3 pillars is key.

Bridging the digital divide is another high priority. The current crisis has highlighted how essential digital technologies are for our society and economy. With almost half of the world’s population still offline, connectivity is now more important than ever. Our COVID-19 recovery therefore must not only build back better and greener, but also more digital –this would also help accelerating SDG implementation. Your important Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, to which the EU has strongly contributed, is a critical contribution in this regard, and we support its full implementation. Let me also stress the importance of upholding the current open, inclusive and decentralised multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.

Finally, the world is grappling with numerous challenges to peace and security. We need an integrated whole-UN system response. We must ensure the implementation of your Call for a global ceasefire. And we must reinforce our common efforts towards building and sustaining peace, backed up with proper resourcing. The successful PBF Replenishing Conference you hosted earlier this week was very welcome in this regard.

At the same time, we fully echo your concerns over the continued erosion of the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, with the NPT as its cornerstone. Its full implementation is crucial – as is a successful NPT Review Conference, for which the EU is fully mobilised. The current pandemic must not be used as an excuse to bring disarmament to a standstill or reverse past achievements, but rather to move forward.

We also reaffirm our resolute commitment to the JCPoA, another key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture. We welcome President Biden's positive statements on the JCPoA, and look forward to working with the new US Administration and other partners in this regard.

The EU also looks forward to engaging in the upcoming review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy under the capable leadership of the 2 co-facilitators.

Finally, Mr Secretary-General, we welcome your readiness for a second term. We will constructively engage in the process once it is launched formally.

Mr Secretary-General, you can count on the EU’s continued full and constructive support in tackling our common priorities! Thank you.

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