Parliaments across the globe are “necessary partners” for each of the five rays of hope, prioritized by the President-elect of the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th session, Abdulla Shahid.
Taking the podium at the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament which commenced in Vienna, Austria on Tuesday afternoon, the Maldivian Foreign Minister stated that the 76th session, under his “Presidency of Hope”, will prioritize five rays of hope, all of which require the vital partnership of parliaments.
Speaking at the conference, FM Shahid shed light on the lengthy relationship with the Inter Parliamentary Union during his five terms as the Speaker of Maldivian Parliament. He went on to note that Maldives received the immense support from former IPU Secretary-General Anders B. Johnsson, along with President of the Federal Council of the Republic of Austria, Martin Chungong during its transition into democracy.
Noting that he has no doubt that his experiences as Speaker of the People’s Majlis will serve him well as he takes on the role of the UNGA President, Shahid added that the UN and multilateralism prosper on dialogue, on negotiation, and on nuance, all of which are needed now, “more than ever”.
Our world continues the slow but steady emergence from the global pandemic. We however struggle to bring climate change under control. There is growing inequality which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. While vaccines are available the distribution has been uneven. Clearly, there are many reasons to be cynical or pessimistic by the challenges around us. But that is an option we cannot afford.”Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
Highlighting that the only viable path forward is a multilateral one, FM Shahid stated that the world is too interlinked, not to address the common challenges or seize the opportunities paved, as one.
Shedding light on his main five priorities for the “Presidency of Hope”, Shahid stated that it was this “need” for togetherness that led him to choose “hope” as the 76th session of the UNGA’s theme.
First priority: continuing the recovery from Covid-19.
Shahid noted that ensuring unbiased access for vaccines is “unparalleled” in importance.
Without this, we prolong the pandemic, threaten lives and livelihoods, and risk only further variants and outbreaks. It is for this reason that I plan to organize a ‘High-Level Meeting on Vaccines’ at the General Assembly before the end of the year or early next year.”Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
Second priority: build back better, stronger, bluer, and greener
The foreign minister highlighted that he will use the 76th session to bring out the need for a sustainable, transformative recovery from the pandemic.
This pandemic has been a setback to the lives of billions, yet our recovery to this setback can be a turning point, allowing us to move faster and further. Let us embrace this opportunity for change and ignite progress on the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals."Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
Third priority: responding to the needs of the planet
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report was very clear in its assessment of where we are on this issue, said the foreign minister.
We must act quickly if we are to limit the climate impacts. For my part, I will convene a ‘High-Level Meeting on Climate’ in October 2021. It is my hope that this effort will help inspire greater climate ambition from Member States ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.”Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
Fourth priority: continuing to promote, protect human rights, address inequalities and injustices
Stressing on the need to work together to counter the rising tide of discrimination, FM Shahid urged to work together in unity.
The protection of human rights is one of the core values of the United Nations. We need to work together to counter the rising tide of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and all other forms of discrimination.”Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
He pledged to focus on empowerment of women, ensuring their full, meaningful and equal representation in society as a supporter of gender equality as well. The UNGA President-elect noted that his cabinet is “gender balanced”, adding that he has been vocal on his intention to only participate in panels and discussions mirroring gender parity.
Fifth priority: continue efforts to empower and reform the United Nations
Shahid promised to continue efforts to make the UN more efficient, effective, accountable and family friendly.
I will work with Member States to ensure that our decisions, discussions, and actions are relevant and impactful to the people of the world. We need to bring the United Nations closer to the people.”Abdulla Shahid, UNGA President-elect, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives.
With this being said, the UNGA President-elect stressed on the importance of parliaments, whether it be ensuring access to vaccination, recovering sustainably or even tackling the threats of climate change. He noted that the UN, “cannot act alone” and needs to work with partners in parliament.