PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR
PRESIDENT CALLS COVID-19 SPECIAL SESSION A TEST FOR MULTILATERALISM AS ASSEMBLY VOTES TO ESTABLISH MODALITIES
- This morning the General Assembly plenary established the dates, format and scope of its special session on COVID-19.
- Speaking before the vote on the relevant resolution, the President said the special session would be a historic moment and a test for multilateralism. It would be an example of our collective action on one of the most critical issues of our time.
- He said we could not afford to stand idly by, for the consequences of this pandemic were far-reaching, and would impact generations to come.
- He said this is a time for action. Action in memory of the souls lost to COVID-19. Action to protect the most vulnerable people who are depending upon us. And action to safeguard our futures.
- The resolution was adopted by a vote of 150 in favor to 0 against with 3 abstentions. The abstentions came from Armenia, Israel and the United States. Prior to the vote, there were three proposed amendments, which were all rejected.
- The special session’s dates are now officially confirmed. It will be held on 3-4 December at the level of Heads of State and Government.
- It will consist of an opening segment; a general debate; and a presentation by and an interactive dialogue led by the Head of the World Health Organization and other relevant UN entities and, if time permits, with relevant stakeholders, on their inter-agency coordination efforts to address COVID-19 and its impacts. There will also be a closing segment.
- Asked why there had been three abstentions, the Spokesperson urged the journalist to speak directly with representatives of those Member States. He added that, in general, the disagreements reflected longstanding differences related to civil society, Palestine-Israel and views on the World Health Organization.
- Asked whether any specific outcomes were expected from the special session, the Spokesperson said the President’s office would issue an official summary document. However, the real point of the special session was to bring the membership together so that they could collectively fight the pandemic. This was also an opportunity to identify the gaps that existed in the current response to COVID-19, and Member States would get a chance to hear from UN entities and decide on the best way to move forward together.
ASSEMBLY ASKS PRESIDENT TO COMMEMORATE WORLD WAR TWO VICTIMS
- The plenary also took action on a new draft resolution that was submitted by the Russian Federation on behalf of a group of countries. It was adopted without a vote after being orally revised by the Russian Federation and after being amended.
- The amendment was proposed by Germany on behalf of a group of Member States and adopted by a vote of 54 in favor to 40 against with 45 abstentions.
- By the resolution, the Assembly requested the President to hold a special solemn meeting on 1 December 2020 – to commemorate all victims of the Second World War.
PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INVESTING IN EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS ON TSUNAMI AWARENESS DAY
- Today is World Tsunami Awareness Day, which recognizes the hundreds of thousands of lives, lost to tsunamis.
- In a video message, the President said more than 600 million people live in coastal areas, that are less than 10 meters above sea level. Without better planning, these communities risk heightened vulnerability, to natural hazards such as tsunamis.
- In that context, he said investing in early warning and preparedness saves lives.
DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE VOTING TOMORROW
- The First Committee, which covers disarmament, took action on Tuesday and Wednesday on all its draft resolutions related to Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- It will now meet tomorrow to take action on draft resolutions in its remaining five clusters: including Outer Space (Disarmament aspects); Conventional Weapons; Other Disarmament Measures and International Security; Regional Disarmament and Security; and Disarmament Machinery.
- Asked for more details, the Spokesperson noted that the First Committee had been planning to finish voting earlier. However, because of delays, voting would now continue on Friday. It had originally planned to meet on Friday regardless, so there was no change to the schedule.