KLAUS WERNER IOHANNIS, President of Romania, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic affected almost all aspects of human life, “it also provided us with opportunities to learn, adapt and do things better”. Global challenges require common solutions, solidarity and cooperation, he stressed, voicing strong support for democratic values and a rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core. In addition, the pandemic also revealed a need to build back better, greener and fairer, leaving no one behind.
Calling for integrated and innovative approaches to a range of linked challenges - including, among others, migration, scarce resources, climate change and biodiversity loss, extreme poverty and hunger - he said the world was indeed at an inflection point. He welcomed the newly issued report on Our Common Agenda, voicing support for its main conclusions and urging the Secretary-General to continue efforts towards their implementation. The post-COVID recovery must place sustainability at its core, as effects of climate change have no national borders. “The responsibility to effectively address them rests on all of us,” he stressed, outlining Romania’s cooperation with partners to that end.
Among other emerging challenges, he spotlighted both the potential and threats of new digital technologies and the opportunity to strengthen national health systems and make them more resilient. As well, equitable and affordable global access to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 must be ensured. Reaffirming his support for the COVAX facility and the “Team Europe” approach to support countries in tackling the pandemic’s impacts, he added his support to the call for the adoption of an international legal instrument for pandemic preparedness and response. Meanwhile, the primary responsibility in protecting and promoting human rights was with States. “We must all ensure that restrictions related to COVID-19 do not exacerbate rights violations,” he stressed.
Noting that COVID-19 made humanitarian intervention even more difficult, he said international action was nevertheless still needed in many parts of the world. In Romania, refugees and persons at risk were included in national public health coverage schemes and provided with access to immunizations, including against COVID-19. The country recently welcomed vulnerable groups of Afghans, and it was continuing to prioritize the rights of women, children and minorities. Throughout its presidency of the Community of Democracies, Romania has continued to work to uphold democratic principles, he said, encouraging all States to do the same. “It is the right time to turn the COVID-19 crisis and its security impact into an opportunity to revitalize the peace and security agenda, with renewed emphasis on conflict prevention and the consolidation of peace processes,” he added.
He also called for stepped-up, coordinated efforts to confront the global threat of terrorism, building upon the newly reviewed Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Ensuring strategic resilience was a priority for Romania, as demonstrated by its creation of the Euro-Atlantic Centre for Resilience. Together with partner countries, it was also promoting a declaration on the importance of accepting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, an initiative which all delegations are invited to support.
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