Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message at the twentieth meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), held today:

I thank the chairmanship of the Russian Federation for the opportunity to address this meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  And I thank the members of SCO for your firm commitment to inclusive multilateralism and the principles of the United Nations Charter.

As we mark the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations, the world finds itself at a critical juncture.  The COVID‑19 pandemic is a global health crisis with unprecedented social and economic consequences.  We also face an escalating climate emergency and increasing geopolitical tensions.

This pandemic has exacerbated vulnerabilities, inequalities and fragilities across the world.  The recovery will require global cooperation to protect lives and livelihoods, and to keep economies and businesses afloat.  We count on the strong engagement of SCO Member States, and we stand ready to share good practices and provide technical expertise to your pandemic recovery plans.

I welcome the support of SCO, as a leading player in regional diplomacy in Eurasia, for my appeal for a global ceasefire.  I look forward to your further advocacy and action to end hostilities around the world before the end of this year.  When people fight each other, the only winner is the virus.  We have seen this most recently in Armenia and Azerbaijan, where the pandemic has taken on new ferocity since the conflict reignited.

Regular exchanges between the United Nations and SCO provide us with ways to enhance our cooperation on regional issues.  The revitalized SCO‑Afghanistan Contact Group is an important forum to advance regional efforts in support of peace in Afghanistan, during a crucial period when the opportunities for peace are being tested, and the lives of civilians are at continued risk.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between our respective counter‑terrorism offices in February of this year was a significant step forward in our cooperation against the scourge of terrorism.

As the landscape evolves and new threats emerge, we look forward to benefiting from SCO’s regional expertise to strengthen our joint assistance to Member States.

The climate crisis, like the pandemic, is a global threat that knows no borders.  Here too, ambitious multilateral action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods.  The Paris Agreement [on climate change] and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underpin the work of the United Nations and should be central to national decision‑making too.

The tide is turning.  The European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, together with more than 110 other countries, have committed to net‑zero emissions by 2050, and China before 2060.  I call on more Governments to join this net‑zero coalition and to align their COVID‑19 recovery plans and 2030 nationally determined contributions with this objective.  And I urge all Governments to bring concrete policies and plans to the Climate Ambition Summit I will co‑host with several Member States on the 12th of December.

From human rights and humanitarian aid programmes to gender equality and environmental protection, the Sustainable Development Goals have an important role in preventing conflict and preserving peace and security.

Greater inclusivity, particularly through increasing the engagement and participation of women, is central to these efforts.  We cannot hope to meet the challenges of our age if we exclude the perspectives and expertise of half our population.  Women’s leadership and participation is essential to creating stronger, more resilient communities and societies that can withstand shocks of all kinds, from health crises to natural disasters.

Finally, there is no peace or sustainable development without human rights.  At this time of global crisis, it is also crucial to protect civic space and media freedom, and to listen to the voices of all sectors of society, including the most marginalized.

I look forward to strengthening the ties between our respective organizations.  Together, through complementary approaches and strategies, including preventive diplomacy, we can overcome challenges and contribute to lasting peace and stability in the SCO region.

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