H.E. Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly
Photo Credits: UNDESA
Interactive Discussion with OIC Member States on
COVID-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility
REMARKS by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande,
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates and Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Group, Her Excellency Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh and Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for convening today’s interactive dialogue.
I extend my best wishes to everyone during this holy period and I say, “Iftar Mubarak” to all those who have just broken their fast.
I extend my condolences to those who have passed away due to the virus. To those who are battling COVID-19, we wish you a swift recovery.
I commend the World Health Organisation (WHO), OIC Member States, Civil Society and Private Sector, for providing vital support and services in the fight to defeat the pandemic. I also call on all those that have the capacity to financially support the UN’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response plan to do so.
The global community is facing the greatest challenge in the 75 years of the United Nations. COVID-19 has disrupted billions of lives with far-reaching effects on the health and livelihoods of people. This pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, putting immense strain on tenuous systems and plunging those in the most precarious contexts into deeper poverty and hunger.
In response to COVID-19 we have all adapted how we live our lives. We had to change some of our age-old traditions during the holy month of Ramadan. This has affected how communities and families mark this time of deep reflection, generosity and neighbourly support.
In the month of Ramadan, from dawn to dusk millions of people observe the fast and feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. During the period of the fast they feel empathy and are reminded at a deeper level of those who suffer from extreme hunger and have no access to water every day.
This remarkable experience brings us closer together, invoking in us, our shared values of compassion, empathy, peace, altruism, respect and tolerance. These values are at the heart of all religions and they embody the principles set out in the Charter of the United Nations. I trust that they will guide us throughout our response to COVID-19.
From the onset of this crisis, religious leaders and faith-based organisations have been at the fore of the response. They have a unique platform to promote public health guidelines and information to contain both the spread of the virus, and the spread of fear and stigma.
Religious leaders have been working tirelessly to unite communities in order to combat increases in gender-based violence, hate speech and discrimination. I applaud all religious leaders for reaffirming their rejection of violence in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.
I welcome the call of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity for a day of prayer for the good of all humanity. This expression of solidarity from millions of religious leaders and people of faith around the world offered hope to those struggling during these difficult times.
I commend the leadership of the Islamic Development Bank in developing the emergency response initiative. I also thank the communities that have been contributing to coordinated, comprehensive multilateral efforts to ease the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
Building back better will require us to consider the needs of the most vulnerable in society. We must reach those furthest behind first, including: Least Developed Countries; Landlocked Developing Countries; Small Island Developing States; and conflict-affected States. In doing so we need to address the specific needs of women, children, youth, people with disabilities, and those who are often marginalized.
Within the UN family, the General Assembly has continued to serve as a crucial forum for cooperation and effective information sharing. Among other efforts, the General Assembly recently adopted two resolutions calling for international solidarity to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
We have also appointed two distinguished Ambassadors, H.E Mrs. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and H.E. Mr. Ivan Šimonović, Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations, to coordinate approaches and initiatives, as well as leverage the influence of the Assembly to effectively advocate for measures aimed at defeating COVID-19, while mitigating its social and economic impact. I am grateful to the Member States of the OIC for their support and solidarity in this regard.
Solidarity remains our first line of defence. I urge the OIC and indeed all Member States to continue to reinforce the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. I trust that the OIC will continue to be a voice of reason and moderation for international peace and security, justice and sustainable development.
As we come to the end of Ramadan, I trust that we will be guided by the values of this holy month and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.
I wish you all a blessed Eid.
I thank you.
For more information on PGA: https://www.un.org/pga/74/