South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa Delivers Message to UN Special Session On Covid-19, 3 Dec

press release

A pre-recorded message by President Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivered today to the virtual United Nations (UN) General Assembly Special Session on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, to be held at the level of Heads of State and Government.

The initiative to convene the UN General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19 was proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), following the devastating global impact of the pandemic.

The pandemic is regarded not only as the greatest global health crisis since the creation of the United Nations 75 years ago, but also as a humanitarian, socio-economic, security and human rights crisis.

According to the United Nations, COVID-19 has claimed more than 1.3 million lives, infected more than 54 million people, and upended the livelihoods of even more people all over the world.

The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and exacerbated inequalities within and between developing and developed countries and disproportionately affected vulnerable groups, especially women and girls.

The UN General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19 is an opportunity for the international community to strengthen international solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism in the fight against COVID-19 and to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment.

The vital role of the United Nations system, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through collective, coordinated action and in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, will also be highlighted during the special session.

Through this framework, countries will be able to develop strategies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, recover and remain on track to achieving the objectives of the 2030 Agenda while ensuring no one is left behind.

In his message, President Ramaphosa will address the general debate in his capacity as President of the Republic of South Africa and as Chair of the African Union (AU). In this regard, the President is expected to reflect on South Africa's and the AU's coordinated efforts and progress made in addressing COVID-19.

Furthermore, South Africa has assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of December. As a result, South Africa's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, will deliver a statement on behalf of the UN Security Council in the opening segment of the Special Session.

The statement is expected, amongst others, to express the Council's support for the UN Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interactive discussions by the heads of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other relevant United Nations entities on interagency efforts to address the global pandemic and its impacts, are expected to take place on the second day of the Special Session.

President Ramaphosa said that South Africa is honoured to participate in this UN General Assembly Special Session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The acts of international human solidarity since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic resonate with the purposes and principles the 1945 Charter of the United Nations and the 1955 Bandung Principles of the NAM, which envision a world of peace, equality, cooperation and well-being for all. The impact of this pandemic has been global in both scale and reach. This necessitates coordinated international action to ensure that all countries are enabled to respond effectively, particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder the burdens of poverty, inequality, and underdevelopment," said President Ramaphosa.

The Special Session is scheduled to start at 16h00 South African time and will be live streamed on the UN platform: and on all Presidency social media platforms.

UNGASS on COVID-19 programme and speakers - list

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