Covid Vaccination, Gender Parity Top Focus as Abdulla Shahid Begins Presidency of 76th Session of UNGA

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Vaccinating the world against coronavirus, rebuilding sustainably from the pandemic and gender equality would be the “top focus” of President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid as he began his presidency of hope of the 193-member world organisation. The 76th session of the UN General Assembly commenced on Tuesday with outgoing President Volkan Bozkir handing over the gavel to Shahid, the Foreign Minister of the Maldives.

Shahid, 59, was elected as the President of the 76th session of the UNGA on July 7 this year. The session opened as the world is still grappling with the pandemic, vaccine inequity and security and humanitarian concerns due to the situation in countries like Afghanistan and Myanmar.

To say that it has been a challenging 18-months would be an understatement. Millions have perished; hundreds of millions have been ill; billions have suffered, Shahid said in his remarks to the 193-member UN General Assembly after taking the oath of office as President of the 76th session. “Every day we hear more and more news to ignite our collective anxiety: climate change, disasters, conflict, and instability. These issues dominate our airwaves. The narrative must change… and we must be the initiators of this change,” he said.

Shahid told UN envoys, diplomats and delegates that he has embraced hope as the theme of his Presidency. “I am not nave, nor do I say this just to use nice-sounding words. I say this because I believe that this is what this moment in time calls for. Hope is never overrated or cliche – those are the words of cynics. Hope is what drives us not to give up, even when the odds seem high.”

Highlighting his five rays of hope, Shahid said with a view to recovering from COVID19, vaccinating the world is my top focus.” We simply must close the gap to vaccine access. With this in mind, I will be holding a high-level thematic debate on vaccine equity with leading experts and world leaders,” he said.

Noting that the US, the host country of the United Nations headquarters, has made vaccines universally available to the whole United Nations family, including staff and delegates, Shahid said he is glad to announce that the city of New York will also be offering vaccination and testing resources for all the attendees of the High-Level Week.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told .

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