Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the fifteenth plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, held virtually today:
The Mediterranean region is an incredibly rich melting pot of cultures, languages, religions and nations. Yet, its peace and security have often been threatened, including over the past year. The recent violence engulfing Gaza and Israel shows how tenuous peace can be.
The continuing plight of migrants and refugees across and around the Mediterranean demands that we redouble regional and global efforts to tackle the root causes. Safer, regular and dignified migration pathways are desperately needed. In Libya, I hope presidential and parliamentary elections later this year will consolidate gains since the signing last October of the ceasefire agreement facilitated by the United Nations. Peace and stability in Libya have an important role in easing the plight of migrants across the region.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, rolled back years of progress on sustainable development, and contributed to rising tensions and even violence around the world, including in the Mediterranean region. Terrorist groups continue to exploit the political and economic fallout from the pandemic, using their hateful narratives to attract the most vulnerable. Violence against women, including domestic violence, has also increased. Some are using the pandemic as a pretext to suppress free speech and violate international human rights law.
The pandemic is an unprecedented tragedy. But it also presents a historic opportunity to work together, rebuild trust and address multiple crises in a holistic, just and sustainable way. Dignity, equality and opportunity for all are paramount.
As Mediterranean Governments respond to the pandemic and consider investing in recovery, I urge you to take this opportunity for urgent action on the climate crisis, on sustainable development, and on building safer, more resilient societies for the future.
As we prepare for the global climate conference, COP26, in November, greater ambition and financial commitments are needed to not only curb emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, but to adapt and build resilience.
As parliamentarians, you are guardians of human rights and the rule of law. As the world starts to recover from COVID-19, regional platforms, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, have an essential role in reflecting on the impact of this pandemic, and on solutions that put people at the centre.
I wish you a successful fifteenth plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.