UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Tuesday said the COVID-19 pandemic had proved to be the most challenging period the world had seen, as the 75th session of the General Assembly closed to usher in the 76th session.
Passing on the gavel to the new Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives, Guterres saluted his predecessor, Volkan Bozkir at the closing of the 75th session of General Assembly.
“Throughout this difficult and historic moment, we have all been fortunate to rely on the leadership of His Excellency, President Volkan Bozkir”.
The UN chief credited the outgoing Turkish diplomat and politician for prioritising a sustainable recovery, rooted in the 2030 Agenda, and supporting countries and communities as they rebuilt systems shattered by the pandemic.
Guterres said that under Bozkir’s leadership, the Assembly had sought to “strengthen health systems, deliver COVID-19 testing, treatment and equipment, and contribute to the most ambitious vaccination campaign in history”.
Moreover, he drove the General Assembly’s vital work in the areas of peace and security, disarmament, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development.
According to him, the outgoing president had also overseen the adoption of major resolutions on key issues, from peace-building to counterterrorism and preventing crimes against humanity, addressing climate change and ending human trafficking.
“In short, under President Bozkir’s stewardship, this Assembly has proven, time and again, the value of multilateralism and a rules-based international system,’’ the secretary-general said.
In a speech before closing the 75th Assembly’s final meeting, outgoing President Bozkir noted that his tenure took place amidst a “tumultuous, historic, transformative, unequal, challenging and ground-breaking year.”
Newly sworn in General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives, then opened the new 76th session, noting that his country’s flag is “flying at the highest peak today”.
He spoke of near-universal “collective anxiety” and hopelessness, not all of which is pandemic-related, saying: “the narrative must change”, and that the General Assembly “must play a part in this”.
Guterres stressed the need to re-commit to the UN values of human rights, supporting the most vulnerable, and peace, through dialogue and solidarity.