3 September 2020

Adhering to physical-distancing guidelines, the General Assembly met fully in-person on Thursday 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.


“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 United Nations, whilst contending with the COVID-19 pandemic”, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told the downsized delegations from Member States.

Ensuring continuity 

Mr. Muhammad-Bande called the Assembly the UN’s “chief deliberative body”, saying that it continued the Organization’s work, all while forging and deepening partnerships to “build back better”. 

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 General Assembly itself; as well as new Security Council members. 

“We employed virtual methods to gather stakeholders from around the world on Charter Day, and once again at the multi-stakeholder hearing on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women”, added Mr. Muhammad-Bande, thanking the Secretariat for its “continued commitment”.

75 years and counting

The UN official applauded the work of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Declaration for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

He 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.

Your work has ensured that the United Nations can continue to operate on the ground and meet the needs of the people we serve -- Assembly president

Moreover, the UN official 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. 

“Your work has ensured that the United Nations can continue to operate on the ground and meet the needs of the people we serve”, he said proudly. 

WHO in the lead

The Assembly president 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. 

Mr. Muhammad-Bande maintained the importance of these efforts as we begin the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “or as it is likely to become, the decade of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”. 

“I urge you to galvanize multilateral action now to fulfill our financing for development commitments”, the Assembly president said in closing. “We remain in this together, as nations, united. Let us continue striving together to deliver for all”. 

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The first in-person meeting since March is held in the General Assembly following the outbreak of the coronavirus.


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