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Source: United Nations (Video News)

Opening remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Fifth Committee, 3rd meeting – General Assembly, 75th session.

“I welcome this opportunity to introduce the proposed programme budget for 2021.

We meet under extraordinary circumstances. Covid-19 has put the lives of billions of people around the globe in turmoil, inflicting grave suffering and destabilizing the global economy.

The United Nations continues to provide wide-ranging health interventions, advocate for a massive rescue package for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, and is committed to accelerate work on a vaccine.

I have renewed my appeal for a global ceasefire, calling for a major push to make this happen by the end of the year.

We are working concertedly, comprehensively and collectively.

The scale and complexity of this crisis demand a coordinated global response, across all pillars of our Organization. Every one of our mandates is affected, in one way or another, by the pandemic.

Operating in a COVID-19-affected world is also a test of our reform agenda, and I am pleased to report that our new processes and structures have proven instrumental in enabling us to remain open and function effectively.

United Nations Resident Coordinators and Country Teams are supporting countries in combatting the pandemic and its socio-economic impacts.

Our Regional Economic Commissions and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs have provided policy advice at regional and global levels.
Our peacekeeping operations and special political missions have adapted to working under new conditions and are supporting national authorities in their fight against the virus, in addition to their other critical functions.

My Special Representatives and Envoys continue to pursue the implementation of ceasefires and other efforts to promote political solutions.

And staff in all duty stations, at all levels, amidst an overall climate of fear, anxiety and uncertainty, have shown themselves to be highly flexible and dedicated in adapting to telecommuting and other new working arrangements and requirements.

We are open for business and we are running this Organization from thousands of dining tables and home offices.

We are not only interacting with each other and Member States in New York.

We are supporting our colleagues in duty stations and locations across the globe and in the most remote, and sometimes dangerous locations.  

I am also grateful for the efforts of this Committee to work remotely.  It has not always been easy to adapt but you have risen to the challenge.  Your contribution is crucial for the work of the General Assembly and for the continued functioning of our operations.  

Before elaborating on the proposals, I would like to say a few words on the reform process.

We are well into the second year of implementation of our reforms of the peace and security pillar, the development system and the management of our Organization.
Resident coordinators covering 162 countries and territories now have a direct reporting line to my office, enhanced analytical capacities and coordination tools, and support from a strengthened development coordination office.
The enhanced coordination is beginning to yield results. Ninety-five per cent of Country Teams report that a joint approach has strengthened relationships with governments. Two thirds of involved governments have indicated that they can clearly see this increased capacity to support national priorities, in line with our basic principle of national ownership.
The peace and security reforms have allowed us to begin implementing comprehensive regional strategies that were formulated in 2019 and 2020, leading to greater harmonization of action with regional and subregional organizations and other stakeholders. There now is a single point of contact for peacekeeping and special political missions operating in the same region, with distinct but complementary mandates.

In non-mission settings, the peace and security pillar is now in greater alignment with the other pillars of the Organization, as in Bolivia, where an innovative programme strengthened the country team for its efforts in the areas of dialogue, elections, human rights and development.

And management reform has brought substantial changes, including in structures, accountability, delegation of authority and internal operations. These have been critical to sustain business continuity during the pandemic. With better aligned responsibilities and accountabilities, we were able to quickly adjust internal policies and procedures to accommodate the new realities on the ground; at the same time, we have dedicated capacities that could focus on key areas of concern, such as health and supply chain management (…)” – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations [Excerpt].

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