UNGA to hold landmark special session on Covid

The president of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Volkan Bozkir, will host the assembly’s 31st special session on Thursday through Friday in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UNGA has announced.

“Following 1.5 million deaths, more than 62 million cases worldwide and one of the largest social and economic crises in living memory, controlling and recovering from Covid-19 is the international community’s top priority,” a UNGA press release stated on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

It said that UN member states have thus mandated a special session of the UNGA to reflect on the response to the ongoing crisis to date and “forge a united path forward to better recovery, including access to a Covid-19 vaccine”.

“Covid-19 is a global health crisis. It is also an economic crisis, a development crisis, a humanitarian crisis and a human rights crisis. It revealed the structural inequalities and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable members of our societies,” said Bozkir.

He added that “the special session provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat Covid-19. With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right. The world is looking to the UN for leadership; this is a test for multilateralism.”

“I believe the General Assembly will be able to forge a path forward and to end the suffering of the people we serve,” he stressed.

The two-day special session will primarily consist of a general debate on Thursday and interactive dialogues with experts, UN agencies and leading scientists, on Friday.

Specifically, the first day will include an opening segment with statements by the UNGA president, the secretary-general, the presidents of the Economic and Social Council and Security Council, and the chair of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. This will be followed by messages from world leaders on their experiences in fighting the pandemic and the needs in addressing COVID-19 moving forward, according to the press release.

The second day will feature a presentation from the director-general of the World Health Organization and three moderated panel discussions covering the health and humanitarian response, vaccine development and socio-economic recovery.