Pakistan urges global community to recommit to vaccine equity: Munir Akram

Amid escalating global tensions, Pakistan calls for strengthening of UN to rebuild peace


UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called for strengthening the United Nations as the world faces renewed global tensions, new and old conflicts as well as a fresh arms race, saying there was need to consider how the world body can rebuild peace.

“A stronger United Nations is necessary not only to debate and discuss the issues but to translate the conscience of humanity, the words which are spoken in these halls into concrete decisions and actions,” Ambassador Munir Akram told the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

“That is what would be meaningful reform of the United Nations,” the Pakistani envoy said, while supporting the 193-member Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid’s priorities for the remainder of the 76th session.

At the same time, Ambassador Akram said that the deliberations in the General Assembly could not be divorced from the real world.

“We are witnessing a world today where global tensions, including between major powers, have revived. New and old conflicts abound: a new arms race is underway.”

The consensus on disarmament has eroded, new military alliances are being formed in various parts of the world, with UN largely absent, he noted.

There was a need to consider how the United Nations can contribute to the reconstruction of peace in this world, the Pakistani envoy said, adding that this effort must be built on the foundations of the principles of the UN Charter, international law and the resolutions of the General Assembly, especially the Security Council.

“We cannot ignore the global and multi-dimensional threats to international peace and security today and live only in hope,” Ambassador Akram added.

The world is faced with a triple crisis — economic, social, and environmental, he warned.

Referring to the COVID 19 pandemic, the reversal by a decade or more of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the existential threat of climate change, the Pakistani envoy pointed out that inequality was one common factor in all three dimensions,

He said 150 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty, over 40 countries are facing debt distress and over 20 countries are facing food insecurity and millions of people in conflict zones in Africa and Afghanistan face starvation and massive fatalities.

“These are urgent and critical situations for the peoples involved and the United Nations must display the urgency and the empathy that is required to address the suffering which we are seeing all across the world, in particular, across the developing world.”

Underscoring the need to generate the financing to enable the developing countries to recover from the pandemic and its reversal, he pointed out that the richer countries have injected $17 trillion into their economies to revive and restore the damage, but the developing countries have not been able to access more than $100 billion in additional financing for recovery.

Climate change is an existential threat, especially for the small island developing countries and for vulnerable countries like Pakistan, Ambassador Akram said.

“We have contributed the least and we have the suffer the most from climate change,” he said, adding, “And yet we have not generated the resources required the 100 billion promised many years ago.”

Earlier, outlining the five priories of his self-styled ‘Presidency of Hope’, Abdulla Shahid, the Assembly president, also underscored the importance of his uplifting central theme, calling cynicism a “path to inaction” that would lull the international community into complacency and a “false belief that our actions do not matter.”

He urged the global community to recommit to vaccine equity as the only way to recover from the pandemic, calling for faster production and distribution of innoculations, and a removal of barriers to rollout.

The President, whose “new year’s resolution” campaign calling for vaccine equity has the support of some 120 Member States, will hold a high-level event on 25 February to galvanize momentum for universal COVID vaccination.

Shahid noted that the communities most adversely impacted by the pandemic often reside in the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states, which include the President’s home country of the Maldives.

He called for economic strategies that align with global environmental priorities and preservation of natural resources, pointing to a high-level event on sustainable recover from COVID through tourism, which is slated for May.

When speaking about the needs of the planet, President Shahid warned that the dangers may not be imminent or apparent right now “but the path we are all on is the same.”

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