PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

COVID-19 RESPONSE MUST BE SHAPED BY HUMAN RIGHTS, PRESIDENT SAYS ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

  • Today is Human Rights Day.
  • In a video message, the President said this Human Rights Day is unlike any other, as we contend with the greatest challenge since the creation of the United Nations 75 years ago.
  • He said COVID-19 was not just a health crisis – but a human rights crisis as well – as it has exposed structural inequalities, which hinder the full enjoyment of human rights.
  • He stressed that our response to the pandemic must be shaped by – and uphold respect for – human rights.
  • And we all have a responsibility, to stand up for the human rights of everyone, everywhere.

PRESIDENT CALLS ON ASSEMBLY TO COME TOGETHER TO SUPPORT AFGHANISTAN

  • This morning the General Assembly plenary is holding a debate on Afghanistan. It also adopted a resolution on Afghanistan by a vote of 130 in favor to 1 against with 3 abstentions.
  • In remarks to the meeting today, the President said that, this year, there has been welcome progress on many fronts in Afghanistan’s path towards peace and political reconciliation.
  • He added that the people of Afghanistan have been waiting for a genuine opportunity for peace and prosperity – for nearly forty years. “We cannot disappoint them once again,” he said.
  • The President cautioned that violence, the threat of terrorism, an unstable security situation and growing civilian casualties might derail the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation negotiations, which remain the only path to enduring peace and stability.
  • In that regard, he urged the General Assembly to come together to support Afghanistan.

EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY & PREVENT GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE MUST BE REDOUBLED

  • Today marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which is an annual international campaign.
  • In a video message, the President said we must continue to work together to improve our response to gender-based violence.
  • This means standing up for what is right; preventing impunity; and redoubling efforts to achieve gender equality, which is critical to violence prevention.
  • He said ending gender-based violence will take more than 16 days. But together, we can work towards creating a better world.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER FOURTH COMMITTEE REPORTS TODAY

  • This afternoon the General Assembly plenary will consider reports of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee – or Fourth Committee.
  • The President will deliver brief remarks, in which he is expected to highlight the importance of the Fourth Committee’s work, which covers such significant themes as decolonization, peacekeeping, Palestinian issues and outer space.

PRESIDENT TO HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR MULTILATERALISM IN A CHANGING WORLD

  • This afternoon, the President will deliver virtual remarks to an event – organized by the Stimson Centre and the Turkish Heritage Organization – on the need for multilateralism in a changing world.
  • He is expected to say that never before have we leaned so heavily on the multilateral system. And not since the founding of the modern multilateral system have we been so challenged by resource constraints.
  • He will say that now is the time to mobilize resources, strengthen efforts and show unprecedented political will and leadership – so that we can recommit to multilateralism and the United Nations we need.

WESTERN SAHARA: DIALOGUE CAN LEAD TO FAIR SOLUTION WITHIN U.N. FRAMEWORK

  • The Spokesperson was asked for the President’s reaction to breaking news reports that the United States was recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara and that Morocco was normalizing relations with Israel.
  • The Spokesperson later informed the journalist that establishing diplomatic relations is a sovereign decision of Member States. And achieving peace in the Middle East has been on the UN’s agenda since its creation. Such peace depends on a number of factors, including a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The settlement must be found through negotiations and on the basis of a vision of two States living side by side within secure and recognized borders, and in the framework of the relevant UN resolutions.
  • On the Western Sahara issue, the President believes that a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution can be established through dialogue, within the framework of the UN.