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DSG/SM/1470
2 October 2020

Overcoming Global Challenges like COVID-19 Hinges on Promoting Safe Civic Space, Deputy Secretary-General Says at General Assembly High-Level Side Event

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of seventy‑fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly high‑level side event “Building Back Better for Everyone and with Everyone - Protecting and Promoting Civic Space in the Context of a Crisis”, today:

Thank you for this opportunity to highlight the centrality of civic space in building back better.  We must continue to harness people’s rights to contribute to their societies and to participate in public life.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses of our global community.  The continuing prevalence of poverty, ill‑health, educational disparities and above all suboptimal global cooperation are all factors that are exacerbating the crisis.  In all regions, we see women and young people at the centre of climate protests and the struggle for a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable world.  They are also calling for leadership that is representative of their societies.

That is why our efforts to promote civic space must promote the equal participation of women at all levels of public life.  The inclusion of young people is also imperative, for it is their generation that will live with the consequences of decisions made today.

The Secretary‑General’s Call to Action for Human Rights highlights gender equality, civic space and the rights of future generations as key issues of our time.  These can only be addressed if we preserve the values of participation, inclusion, equality and diversity in our public life - and make them meaningful.

There are lessons to be learned from the current pandemic for building back better and, ultimately, for getting us back on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  One lesson is that solutions generated from the ground upwards are much more effective.  We must create safe channels to attract women, youth, minority groups, people with disabilities and others to the conversation.  New technologies can help us to do so, and we are working to use their potential better.

Through the United Nations Guidance Note on the Protection and Promotion of Civic Space, issued this month, the United Nations commits to strengthening its partnership with civil society, and ensuring the protection and participation of human rights defenders and community leaders in the work we do.  Only by working together will we be able to confront the common challenges we face.

For information media. Not an official record.