Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly



October 11,  2021


H.E. Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, President of the Republic of Serbia,

H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is an honor to join you in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement.

I commend the Governments of Serbia and Azerbaijan for co-hosting this meeting. I also acknowledge the leadership of Azerbaijan, as current Chair of NAM, during a very challenging period.

Excellencies, please allow me to also express my deepest condolences to the Government and people of Algeria, as well as to the NAM family, for the sad passing away of Mr Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the former President of Algeria and President of the 29th session of the GA. I will be holding a plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 14th October to pay tribute to the memory of Mr. Bouteflika.



At this 60th commemorative event of NAM, it would be remiss of me not to quote the words of one of NAM founders, President Josip Broz Tito, who once said, “there is no other political force in the post-war period that has striven and fought so consistently and perseveringly as the non-aligned movement for better and more just international relations”.

As a forum for consultation and collaboration, with consistent advocacy in favor of peace, cooperation, and friendship, NAM serves as a keystone of global multilateral system.

This keystone is needed as much now as it was 60-years ago. While the conditions may have changed, the need for diplomacy and for a multilateral approach has not.

Issues such as disinformation, pandemics, climate change, and biodiversity loss are forcing our world to let go of any lingering notions of isolationism. The challenges we now face are entirely planetary in nature and extent. Our responses have to be equally as global if we are to succeed.

It is in this sense that the relationship between the United Nations and NAM continues to be encouraging.

Both aim to achieve international peace and security.

Both endeavor to uphold the fundamental respect for human rights, the need for equality and tolerance, and the constant pursuit of peaceful resolution to conflicts.

I commend the members of NAM for adhering to the Bandung principles, which correspond closely to the Charter of the United Nations.

Likewise, I thank you for your support to the revitalization of the United Nations and for your efforts to champion multilateral approaches at every turn.

These efforts were very much on display in December of 2020, during the General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19, which was spearheaded by NAM countries.

The special session made a strong call for a coordinated international response to the pandemic and provided a unique opportunity to exchange experiences.

NAM’s support for a multilateral approach to COVID-19 aligns very closely with my own vision for the 76th session of the General Assembly, which is captured in five priorities, or five ‘rays of hope’.

In fact, the first ray of hope is to ensure vaccines for all, which aligns directly with NAM’s initiative within the UN Human Rights Council on equitable, affordable, timely, and universal access to vaccines.

Going forward, I will convene a High-Level Meeting on Universal vaccination: From Hope to Action in January 2022, in New York.

The purpose of this meeting will be to take stock of the global situation and to address the gaps that continue to persist, particularly around access to vaccines.

In the more immediate term – and recognizing that COP26 is only weeks away – I will be convening Member States in New York on 26 October for a special discussion on climate action, particularly focused on capacities at country level.

This event, titled ‘Delivering Climate Action – for People, Planet & Prosperity’, will highlight best practices and achievements in renewables, in climate finance, and in adaptation.

I very much look forward to strong support from NAM countries at each of these high-level engagements.



The last time I was in Belgrade was for the NAM Summit of 1989. I was a younger delegate then, with just a little more hair.

I also had a great deal of ambition and optimism – aspirations and dreams for what the multilateral system was capable of.

Some would say I was wide-eyed and naïve; I would say I was eager and not yet jaded by the trouble and trials of our world.

I bring this up, dear Excellencies, because it is that same untarnished view of the world that I have tried to re-ignite as President of the UN General Assembly.

You see, too often we fall back on cynicism for our failings. Our younger selves would admonish us for this. The younger generation already are.

Somewhere along the way we lost our footing; my Presidency of Hope is about finding our footing again.

We are a people who have sent our own kind to the depths of the ocean and to the reaches of space.

We have developed vaccines in record time.

We have harnessed the power of wind, of the sun, of ocean currents.

Our ingenuity knows few bounds, it is our will that at times falters.

Excellencies, the future will be a choice: do we continue to plod along on our own paths, marking some successes and far too many fallbacks, or do we put aside differences and work as one species, as one humanity.

For me, we have no choice but to choose the latter, and that for me is what sparks hope, what sparks optimism.

I trust you will join me in making this happen.

Before closing, allow me to commend the Azerbaijani Chairmanship of NAM for its focus on youth, particularly the establishment of the NAM Youth Network and a NAM Model simulation exercise.

As President of the General Assembly, I have also prioritized youth empowerment and gender equality. In fact, I am convening a group of youth of my own, in the form of a Fellowship Programme. Likewise, I have been tirelessly consulting with women and girls – including heads of state and government, and ministers – at each step of the way.

I am encouraged that the priorities of NAM align so closely with those values I espouse. Together, we can do better for diplomacy, for multilateralism, and for the peoples of the world.


I thank you.

As a forum for consultation and collaboration, with consistent advocacy in favor of peace, cooperation, and friendship, NAM serves as a keystone of global multilateral system.

Abdulla Shahid

President of the UN General Assembly