MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, expressed his support for the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reform of the United Nations and a people-centred priority agenda. “The pandemic, the resulting economic and social crises, and the recent developments in Afghanistan confront us with evidence that we cannot and must not ignore,” he stressed. Governance of today’s multipolar world required a strong commitment to multilateralism, as the planet’s emerging challenges have gone beyond borders and have necessitated joint responses.
“Whenever we hesitate on multilateralism, whenever we question international law and the role of international organizations, we fail,” he continued. Reforms of the United Nations system were needed, particularly in management, peace and security and development, as well as in the makeup of the Security Council, with an African presence, Brazil and India installed among the organ’s permanent members. He warned that affirming the role of the United Nations while struggling with such reforms and denying the Organization resources would only weaken multilateralism and its ability to resolve crises, with negative effects for everyone.
Underscoring Portugal’s continued support for the 2030 Agenda and for relief for the external debt of the world’s most vulnerable countries, he highlighted his country’s support for the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration as a "champion country", as well as for the drafting of an International Treaty on Pandemics. In addition, in 2022, Portugal, together with Kenya, was going to host the second United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon. Among other international support, Portugal also participated in peacekeeping operations, the European Union-Africa dialogue, international action for the stabilization of the Sahel, and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Stressing that Portugal has never changed course in its strong multilateral engagement, he emphasized that the international community should continue to place its trust in the country, including by giving it a term on the Security Council in 2026. The world’s most pressing concerns — including climate change, pandemics, economic and social crises, war and insecurity, migration and refugees — only confirm that isolationism, protectionism, unilateralism, intolerance, populism and xenophobia inevitably led to dead ends. Twenty years after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, six years after the Paris Agreement on climate change was signed and a year and a half into the pandemic, world leaders can no longer be tempted to forget, stall or waste time, he stated.