Briefing by the President of the General Assembly
on his priorities for the resumed part of the seventy-sixth session
Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Intervention by Mr. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Chargé d’Affairs a.i.,
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Sri Lanka appreciates this briefing on the priorities of the President of the General Assembly for the resumed part of the 76th session. As presented in the Vision Statement of the PGA, the world needs a ‘stronger and more effective United Nations, to bring together the best of humanity, rebuild communities, rescue the planet, recover economies and restore hope.’
For this purpose, we need to unite all our efforts, for the people we are representing and Sri Lanka assures its support to the roadmap that you have laid out as the incumbent President of the General Assembly in leading this august Assembly.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest challenge faced by humankind since the establishment of the United Nations. Recovering from the pandemic is inextricably interwoven with fairness and equity in having access to vaccines. Sri Lanka reiterates the call to make vaccines a ‘global public good’ by supporting the production of tests, vaccines, treatments and legal aspects relating to license. A sound and a coordinated health response is crucial to overcome the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. Your call to convene a High Level thematic Debate on the subject is timely and relevant.
As we recover and hopefully build back better from this pandemic, it is imperative that we do so sustainably: greener and bluer, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by responding to the multifaceted needs of the planet arising out of climate change.
We appreciate the focus of the PGA on climate action. As an island nation, Sri Lanka commends your commitments relating to the protection of our oceans, sustainable fisheries management and preservation of biodiversity. If we work together, the ideal of a more sustainable post-COVID world could be a reality.
Let us engage in a moment or two of soul searching just to get our bearings right. In building a more sustainable world, a stronger United Nations is required. Your efforts aimed at revitalizing the General Assembly, strengthening the Economic and Social Council and reforming the Security Council would be crucial in this endeavor. We cannot afford to permit your vision to fade away even on completion of your term, as at just over seventy five years this assembly appears to be courting a loss of authority on a world stage as it is increasingly at cross roads in a dialogue of the deaf, as serious conflicts rage across our continents. We cannot anymore have a world in disarray in which well entrenched rules have been compromised to their breaking point. Our role led by our President and our Secretary General as being trustees of the international order must be recognized as a force to reckon with. It cannot be seen to be marginal. Facing unprecedented challenges by the related phenomena of transnational actors, new technologies, climate change, the intractable internal conflicts, it is more critical than before for the principle powers to develop widely supported multilateral responses. As we have experienced before, the UN has the capacity to shape international law, practice and norms in remarkable ways. As global security concerns become complex by the day, more than often reaching beyond national boundaries it is more important than before that the law of global security be driven by multilateral institutions that have gained the capacity of being recognized as being effective.
We must exploit your Presidency of hope in the new normal that presents a window of opportunity by addressing the slow pace of addressing new challenges. Cyber security has no definition that has been universally accepted to date. The risk of biological engineered pandemics are available to a growing number of groups, the new risk in artificial intelligence, climate change, the use of outer space appear to outpace our capacity for collective action.
Mr. President, we must appreciate how fragile we are. Your Presidency of hope presents to us the dream of rising from our failures to develop, innovate and evolve as we humans have done before.
Sri Lanka looks forward to the successful delivery of these objectives, through inclusive, equitable and transparent consultations with the Member States. In conclusion, Mr. President, let me reiterate Sri Lanka’s unwavering support to you in achieving these targets during this resumed part of the 76th session of the General Assembly.