Adhering to physical-distancing guidelines, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) met in-person for the first time in nearly six months, with its President urging all members to "galvanize multilateral action to deliver for all", as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep the world.
"Although we have not convened in this hall since March, New York-based delegations have worked tirelessly to uphold the values and principles set out in the Charter of the UN, whilst contending with the Covid-19 pandemic," Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told the downsized delegations on Thursday.
Calling the UNGA the world body's "chief deliberative body", Muhammad-Bande said that it continued the organization's work, all while forging and deepening partnerships to "build back better", reports Xinhua news agency
He commended the body for its foresight in adopting and extending Decision 74/544, which has allowed the membership to adopt more than 70 decisions and resolutions and elect main committees' chairs for the upcoming milestone 75th Assembly session.
"This has ensured business continuity on issues of critical importance."
He recalled the body's physically-distanced elections for the incoming presidents of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UNGA itself; as well as new Security Council members.
Muhammad-Bande also applauded the work of the inter-governmental negotiations on the declaration for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN.
World leaders will mark the UN's 75th anniversary on September 21 at a high-level meeting.
On this occasion, they will endorse, through the adoption of a declaration, a renewed vision for collective global action and a set of commitments to respond to the pandemic, climate change, extreme poverty, armed conflict, disarmament, disruptive technologies and other global challenges.
Muhammad-Bande also thanked the member states that had "demonstrated leadership" in responding to the global pandemic by adopting two resolutions "with wide co-sponsorship" calling for solidarity and global access to medicines and medical equipment.
Moreover, the UNGA President congratulated the Fifth Committee Chair – responsible for administrative and budgetary matters – for "adopting creative methods" that allowed the resumed session to conclude with 21 draft recommendations, and a peacekeeping budget of $6.5 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Muhammad-Bande applauded the World Health Organization (WHO) for leading the Covid-19 response from the outset.
"The entire UN system has rallied to address the needs of the people we serve," he said, with particular praise for "our humanitarian workers in the field and our peacekeepers", who continue to protect communities in the most complex environments globally.
The UN will mark its 75th anniversary with a one-day high-level meeting at the opening of the 75th session of the UNGA.
The theme for this event will be: "The future we want, the UN we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism."
Multilateralism remains the guiding principle for the coming UNGA session, but with a special focus this year placed on taking multilateral action to combat the imminent threat posed by the pandemic.
"I urge you to galvanize multilateral action now to fulfil our financing for development commitments," the UNGA President said in conclusion.
"We remain in this together, as nations, united. Let us continue striving together to deliver for all.".