The 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on 15 September under the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting Covid-19 through effective multilateral action”. Concluding on 29 September, the high-level General Debate – which this year is mainly taking place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – started on 22 September to finish on 26 September. World leaders are delivering their speeches virtually. In his statement, the Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Albrecht Boeselager, addressed this year’s high-level meeting central topic stating that: “Multilateralism has consolidated the protection of all persons, human dignity and freedom of religion”. However, he then warned against the risk of a return to the logic of power, nationalism, and populism prevailing over the logic of dialogue. “Today more than ever before – he explained – every man of good will must raise his voice to guarantee the rights of all persons and of all minorities, respect for human dignity, international cooperation and solidarity”.
The Grand Chancellor illustrated then the mission of the Order of Malta, with its global presence and its long-lasting programmes to help the needy and most vulnerable at this particular trying moment in time. “The Order of Malta’s health units have been engaged on the Covid-19 front since the emergency began last spring. We have offered medical equipment and medicines for hospitals and clinics, protective gear for doctors and nurses. In many countries around the world we are working to reduce the negative social and economic effects on the weaker sections of the population”. The Grand Chancellor also mentioned the Doctor to Doctor project, an online series of meetings organized by the Order to connect doctors and health authorities of different countries with the aim of promoting exchanges on latest medical findings in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
With regards to the development and equitable distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine, Boeselager said: “The Order of Malta firmly shares and supports the words of Pope Francis and the appeal launched last March by the German President Steinmeier and four other Heads of State. We believe that a fair, wide and fast distribution of the vaccine worldwide is not only ethical, but essential from the scientific point of view to contain possible next waves of the pandemic”.
This is the first United Nations General Assembly organized remotely in the history of the UN. As the Secretary General Antonio Guterres has noted the General Assembly is a “people’s debate which promises to be the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation ever on building the future we want”.