– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
29 September 2020
As I close this meeting, I would like to thank all leaders for their contributions to the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
This meeting has been substantive and exceptional. For the first time in the history of this organization, global leaders were not able to be here in person. But this did not prevent multilateralism from operating at the highest levels.
Heads of States, Heads of Governments and Ministers, laid down a complete agenda, which not only supports the priorities I laid down, but also provided enhanced guidance, on steps needed to overcome the challenges we face.
The added feature of introductory remarks by Permanent Representatives, was pioneering and maintained the spirit of the occasion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The fact that so many world leaders chose to address this Assembly, is a testament to the power and relevance of the United Nations.
No other platform in the international calendar has this convening power.
No other organization can bring so many global leaders together.
No other body has the potential to address global challenges like this United Nations.
Through their virtual presence, our political leaders have demonstrated their commitment to multilateralism and the United Nations.
The vast majority confirmed this commitment in their speeches.
Many recognized that multilateralism presents the most effective system to address global challenges, such as the pandemic and climate change.
I thank you for this full and comprehensive endorsement of the rules-based international order and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
I also take note of the very strong calls for a reformed and increasingly effective United Nations, that is aligned to the realities of the 21st Century and can deliver the future we want.
I welcome the strong support for my call to recommit and strengthen multilateralism; and in this regard, the adoption, by consensus, of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations.
While sovereign countries can undertake actions as they deemed fit, leaders were clear that solutions, in an interdependent and interconnected world, can only come from multilateral actions, with UN at its center.
In the coming year and months ahead, I will strongly rely on the member states and their leaders to support me in this regard.
And I urge you to stay positive and look at the bigger picture.
One thing is clear: “We are stronger together”.
Our global consultation around UN75 revealed that this is precisely what people around the world want.
Stronger international cooperation and coordination.
Ever more United Nations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The call for solidarity is impossible to ignore in the context of the current pandemic.
Every Member State referred to the catastrophic consequences of this disease in their remarks.
There was clear recognition that a disease that ignores global borders requires a solution that delivers for us all. And that we all experienced challenges arising from the pandemic.
Unilateral actions have failed to halt its spread.
Significant efforts are needed to combat the current pandemic and prepare for future health shocks.
You have asked me to focus on the following three issues which I will address through my Presidency:
Firstly, early warning system: creating conditions to prevent emergence of another disease;
Secondly, inclusivity in approaches to dealing with the crisis;
And thirdly, equity in access to future vaccines.
At the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the pandemic later this year, I encourage you to present policy solutions on these three issues, to strengthen cooperation and put the world back on track towards achieving the SDGs.
I wholeheartedly endorse the call for vaccines to be distributed equitably, not just from a practical perspective, but also from a moral standpoint.
There was clear recognition that a disease that ignores global borders requires a solution that delivers for us all. And that we all experienced challenges arising from the pandemic. Unilateral actions have failed to halt its spread.
COVID-19 is a practice test that has revealed our weaknesses and the areas that we must strengthen together.
I was pleased to hear so many Member States recognize the opportunity “to build back better” so we are better prepared for future crisis.
We all know that we must build resilience now to prepare for whatever comes tomorrow.
And we know that we have a road map to achieve this: The 2030 Agenda.
So, I welcome the overwhelming support leaders have shown for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Decade of Action as the best way to end poverty, rescue the planet and build a more peaceful world.
That is particularly important, when considering climate action.
Many of you are taking steps to present enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions ahead of COP26 next year, which I warmly welcome. But I encourage others to follow and enhance efforts towards COP26 in Glasgow.
The pandemic has diverted resources and attention. But climate change is still the greatest long-term threat to humanity. As fires rage, sea-levels rise, and biodiversity is lost, there is even greater urgency in pursuing our climate goals and integrating them in our plans “to build back better from the pandemic”.
I will work closely with you to make COP26 a landmark in our mutual quest to combat the climate challenge.
I also look forward to discussing the importance of biodiversity, particularly with respect to disease, at the first-ever UN Biodiversity Summit tomorrow.
Many speakers have raised concerns regarding threats to international peace and security. These concerns are well-founded given the devastating consequences of various conflicts around the world.
The pandemic has only aggravated this situation. As the representative of membership as a whole, and within my mandate, I intend to regularly follow up with the Security Council and the Secretary-General of the urgency that you have outlined.
75 years on from the founding of this organisation, conflicts still rage around the world and many protracted crises remain unresolved.
We can find practical solutions, if we join efforts, to prevent instability and achieve sustainable peace.
Everyone agrees on the need for a Global Ceasefire call. Now is the time for implementation.
Please consider the day to day implications of these devastating conflicts, on ordinary civilians, including some of the most vulnerable groups, such as women and displaced persons.
Nuclear proliferation was a key concern, and I welcome steps towards nuclear disarmament, including support for the Joint Comprehensive Nuclear Plan of Action. I welcome Member States’ continued commitment to Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones and ratification and implementation of disarmament and non-proliferation treaties.
Peace is more than an absence of war but I was encouraged to hear strong commitment to disarmament, a crucial tool in conflict prevention, alongside preventative diplomacy.
I also recognise that achieving consensus on these issues is difficult. Strenuous efforts are needed to overcome divides. I am ready to work with you, the Security Council and the Secretary-General, to help remove the gaps and improve trust.
I look forward to discussing this further during the high-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 2nd October, this Friday.
The challenges facing us are enormous. But so are the possibilities of solutions. By working together, we can overcome them. We must be as inclusive as possible in our deliberations.
The United Nations, has yet to achieve gender equality. We cannot be complacent. I count on your support on October 1st, as we mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
On the issue of participation, throughout my term, I will endeavor to involve civil society in a meaningful way for a diverse range of voices to be heard in this Hall.
The people we serve, particularly those in need or in vulnerable situations, should feel that their concerns are being considered in the United Nations General Assembly, its most representative organ is the General Assembly.
Before we adjourn this meeting, I wish to applaud the dedicated personnel of the United Nations, without whom, none of this would be possible.
Particular praise should go to the safety and security personnel, the staff of the Pass Office, the protocol teams, the interpreters, the Office of the President of the General Assembly and the entire members of the staff of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, who have dealt exceptionally well with the new circumstances and played a crucial role in this meeting’s success.
Let us applaud them together.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you, the Member States, for your contributions to this Debate and your continued commitment to the United Nations. You have laid down a bold agenda before me, which closely aligns with my priorities for the session. I look forward to working with you, for a session that contributes to the improvement of the lives of all the people we serve.
I thank you all.