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SG/SM/20902
14 September 2021

Secretary-General Applauds President Volkan Bozkir’s Leadership ‘in This Difficult and Historic Moment’, as Seventy-fifth Session of General Assembly Concludes

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the closing of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, held today:

I’m pleased to join you for the closing of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly — a session held under the shadow of a formidable foe:  the COVID-19 pandemic.  By any measure, this has been the most challenging period facing the world since the Second World War.

The pandemic has deepened inequalities; decimated economies at the global, national and household levels; plunged millions into extreme poverty; shattered support systems; and unravelled decades of hard-won development progress.

This devastation has played out against the backdrop of ferocious conflicts and natural disasters that are putting millions of lives in jeopardy every day.  And a climate emergency that is — literally — setting our planet on fire.

Ces défis viennent également nous rappeler que nous ne pourrons surmonter cette période qu’en étant solidaires.  

Nous devons œuvrer, ensemble, comme une seule et même famille humaine.  L’Organisation des Nations Unies a été créée précisément pour surmonter ce genre de situation.

Pour rassembler le monde entier autour de défis communs.  Pour établir un consensus en faveur de l’action.  Et pour toujours venir en aide et protéger les personnes les plus vulnérables.

Nous pouvons être fiers que l’Organisation soit restée opérationnelle tout au long de cette période difficile — et cela même si de nombreux aspects de notre travail sont devenus virtuels.

Malgré les restrictions, les organes intergouvernementaux n’ont jamais cessé leurs activités.  Depuis le début de la pandémie, 2,300 membres de Missions permanentes et de Missions d’observation nous ont rejoints.

Au cours de cette soixante-quinzième session de l’Assemblée générale, le Siège de New York a facilité le déroulement de près de 850 réunions en présentiel, de plus de 3,000 réunions virtuelles et d’une centaine de réunions hybrides.  Près de 1,500 réunions ont bénéficié de services d’interprétation.

Et grâce à la détermination — votre détermination, Monsieur le Président — à la détermination des États Membres et de notre personnel, les efforts ont porté leurs fruits.

And throughout this difficult and historic moment, we have all been fortunate to rely on the leadership of His Excellency, President Volkan Bozkir.  Under his stewardship, this Assembly rallied around the need for a sustainable recovery, rooted in the 2030 Agenda — scaling up for countries and communities as they rebuild systems shattered by the pandemic.

President Bozkir made sure that the United Nations system had the Assembly’s support to strengthen health systems, deliver COVID-19 testing, treatment and equipment, and contribute to the most ambitious vaccination campaign in history.  He drove the General Assembly’s vital work in the areas of peace and security, disarmament, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development.

And he oversaw the adoption of a number of major resolutions around key issues — from peacebuilding, to counter-terrorism, to preventing genocide and crimes against humanity, to strengthening the Economic and Social Council, to addressing climate change and ending human trafficking.

All the more remarkable is that these resolutions were often discussed, debated and passed without the benefit of in-person negotiations and meetings.  In short, under President Bozkir’s stewardship, this Assembly has proven, time and again, the value of multilateralism.  It has shown what we can achieve by working as one.

This is critically important, as we continue supporting people and communities in the challenging months and years ahead.  The stakes are high and the road ahead will be difficult.  Trust and cohesion among all Member States are essential.

Thanks to all of you, this is the place where multilateralism comes to life.  I want to once again express my deepest gratitude to the outgoing President for his unwavering leadership over the last year.  President Bozkir, thank you for your vision and your dedication.

And to all Member States, thank you for coming together during these unprecedented times.  I look forward to continuing to work with you — and with the incoming President, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid — in the seventy-sixth General Assembly.

For information media. Not an official record.