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

PRESIDENT LAUDS NEW POLITICAL DECLARATION ON VACCINE EQUITY, CALLS FOR “VACCINES FOR ALL” TO BECOME A REALITY

  • This morning the President convened an informal meeting of the plenary on vaccine equity – at the request of 19 delegations.
  • These delegations had sought the President’s support in providing a platform to launch a Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines.
  • That declaration is currently supported by 181 delegations.
  • In remarks to this morning’s meeting, the President noted that the special session on COVID-19, which he had convened last December, had provided an opportunity to hear from experts on all issues related to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • A lot had happened since then. Yet, much more remains to be done, he said.
  • He added, “We went into this pandemic together. I believe we can emerge together. But that depends on fair and equitable access to vaccines… We owe it to all of those we lost and all of those who have fought together to stand as one.”
  • Applauding the 181 countries that came forward with this joint political declaration, he noted that, from the earliest days of his presidency, he had stressed that the world has both a moral and practical obligation to provide vaccines for all.
  • Highlighting specific commitments outlined in the declaration, the President called for their implementation – so that “vaccines for all” could become a reality.
  • Later in the briefing, on another topic, when a journalist asked, “Does the UN not mean anything anymore?”, the Spokesperson responded: “In terms of whether the UN means anything, today, you saw 181 countries come together on their own to push for global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, which is a very important expression of political will… Today was a clear example that, yes, for the Member States, the UN definitely means something.”

 

PRESIDENT TO MEET WITH SECRETARY-GENERAL THIS AFTERNOON

  • The President will hold his regular coordination meeting with the Secretary-General today at 1:00 p.m.
  • Expected topics of discussion include: the work of the General Assembly; Syria; Myanmar; Ethiopia; UN Development System reform, including the “reinvigorated resident coordinator system”; the Interactive Dialogue on the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, which will be held on 26 April; and the effects of COVID-19 on business continuity.

 

PRESIDENT TO RECEIVE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE IN “VIRTUAL VISIT”

  • The President will meet with United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken during the Secretary’s virtual visit to the UN next week.
  • They will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss the United States’ engagement at the United Nations, the importance of multilateralism and areas of mutual interest and concern.
  • The meeting will open with very brief public remarks, which will be broadcast live at webtv.un.org.

 

SPOKESPERSON ASKED FOR UPDATES ON SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION & APPOINTMENT PROCESS

  • In response to questions on the Secretary-General selection and appointment process, the Spokesperson said that the President had a mandate to convene informal dialogues with candidates. He had therefore set the first dialogue for 7 May. That had been communicated to Member States and then immediately to the press and public. The President had also transparently circulated the current candidate’s vision statement.
  • Asked if there were any other candidates endorsed by Member States, the Spokesperson said that, if and when any other candidates were presented by Member States, those names would be jointly circulated to Member States by the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council and then made public.
  • Asked why Member States were not presenting candidates for consideration, the Spokesperson said that was a question that should be directed to Member States.