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COVID-19 pandemic "starkly" reveals reality of inequality among and within nations: UN official

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 03:57, September 22, 2020

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations official said Monday the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the reality of inequality among and within nations, with the poorest suffering the most.

"The richer countries have mobilized $11 trillion. While the developing countries are struggling to find even a small fraction of the resources they need," Munir Akram, president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), made the remarks at a high-level meeting to commemorate the UN's 75th anniversary.

The meeting was opened by the new president of the 193-member UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir of Turkey, and followed by remarks from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other UN officials and representatives. The theme of the meeting is "The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism."

"We are confronted with a triple challenge: recovering from COVID, realizing the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and avoiding the looming climate catastrophe," said Akram, who also serves as permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations.

Noting that the response to these challenges must be collective, Akram said a vaccine against COVID-19 once developed "must be available to everyone everywhere at affordable prices, without discrimination."

This will require "unprecedented" level of international cooperation, said the UN official. "Such cooperation cannot be promoted anywhere except within the United Nations and its family of organizations," he added.

During its presidency of the ECOSOC this year, Akram said Pakistan will focus on practical steps and concrete actions to overcome the triple challenge, including mobilizing requisite finances, expanding investment in sustainable infrastructure, and applying and absorbing new technologies.

"The United Nations cannot be made fit for purpose if the Security Council is paralyzed and if the General Assembly and ECOSOC are marginalized," Akram said. "The United Nations cannot be effective if unilateral actions are preferred over multilateral solutions."

The UN official noted that the course upon which the world is drifting threatens to erode the structures that have been built to preserve peace and promote prosperity, including the erosion of the UN, urging all parties to commit themselves through the 75th anniversary declaration to "reverse the course."

According to a newly adopted declaration, the world's challenges are interconnected and can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism, which is a necessity as the world has been striving to "build back better for a more equal, more resilient and more sustainable world."

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