Note:  A complete summary of today’s General Assembly general debate will be made available after its conclusion.

Statements

NARENDRA MODI, Prime Minister of India, underscoring that diversity was the at the heart of India’s democracy, said his country was moving into integrated and equitable development.  Over 430 million people have been brought into the banking system and 360 million people have been provided with insurance coverage.  In addition, his Government is working to eradicate homelessness by building 30 million homes.  Polluted water is a significant problem for poor and developing countries, he observed, highlighting a campaign to ensure piped clean water reaches over 170 million homes in India.  For the development of any country, people must have property rights to their homes and land.  To that end, India was using drones to map over 600,000 villages to give people digital records of their homes and lands, a process that will reduce property disputes and give people increased access to credit and bank loans.  Every sixth person in the world is Indian, he pointed out, emphasizing that “when India reforms, the world transforms”.

He went on to say that progress in the scientific and technological sectors in India was scalable, cost effective and could benefit the world.  Indeed, its new COVID-19 vaccine delivery programme offered digital support to register the administration of millions of doses in a single day.  As well, India developed the world’s first DNA vaccine, which can be administered to anyone above the age of 12, and an mRNA vaccine that is in the final stages of development, he announced.

The pandemic taught the world that the global economy needs to be expanded further, he continued.  For its part, India has struck a better balance between economy and ecology and is moving towards its renewable energy target quickly.  In that vein, his country is working to make itself the world’s largest green hydrogen hub.

Science-based, rational and progressive thinking must be the basis for development, he stressed.  For its part, India is rolling out innovative programmes in schools and will launch 75 satellites — made by Indian students — into space.  Countries with regressive thinking, that use terrorism as a political tool, must realize they create a threat for themselves, as well.  In that context, it was essential to ensure Afghanistan was not used to spread terrorism and that no country take advantage of the delicate situation there for selfish interests.

He stressed that, if the United Nations is to remain relevant, it will need to improve its effectiveness and enhance its reliability.  It will be vital for the Organization to meet challenges related to climate crisis, COVID-19, proxy wars and terrorism.  However, institutions of global governance have damaged the credibility they worked decades to build, he noted.

Statement by Saint Lucia to come.

XAVIER ESPOT ZAMORA, Head of Government of Andorra, observed that, although the United Nations has achieved great progress in many areas, the path that lies ahead is a long one.  Rich countries have insisted on their privileged position, hoarding vaccines and deepening inequality, he pointed out, calling on the international community for cooperation and resource mobilization to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.  Vaccines are the most powerful tool in the fight against the pandemic, but they will remain ineffective if all people don’t have access to doses.  Vaccine inequality will lead to a catastrophic moral failure if the solution is only partly applied, he stressed.

The climate challenge also must be viewed collectively, he went on to say, emphasizing that the upcoming twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) will be the last opportunity for the most powerful economies to make climate commitments.  Turning to food system security, he underscored that it was possible to reconcile with nature with solutions that promote the production of healthy food and science‑based, green sustainability.

On peace and security matters, he observed that the world was seeing worsening crises because of poverty, climate change and a reduction of international aid.  The United Nations has mechanisms to alleviate the effects of such crises, but must enhance efforts at prevention.  Education is a human right, one of the main catalysers of sustainable development, and the best way to change societies and protect the planet, he said.  Turning to gender parity, he emphasized the importance of including women and girls in decision‑making, stressing that the empowerment of women cannot be reversed by the pandemic.

On climate change mitigation, he reported that Andorra has accepted the terms of the Paris Agreement and is working to achieve its goals.  To that end, his country is promoting renewable energy and the use of natural products and resources to avoid material losses.  In response to the effects the pandemic had on its tourism sector, Andorra is rebuilding it as a sustainable vector of the economy, he said.

CLEOPAS SIPHO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Eswatini, said his country experienced unimaginable setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had to rethink its development strategy in order that no one was behind.  Stressing that an efficient plan to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic rested on national populations being vaccinated, he expressed concern about low access to vaccines by many countries.  As a beneficiary of the COVAX Facility, he thanked the United Nations and donors, particularly the United States, for their work on the implementation of this initiative.  “We bank on the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” he said, underlining that this arrangement will strengthen capacity of the African countries to produce more vaccines.  He also noted that Eswatini was aiming to achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021.

The pandemic prompted his Government to re-think resilience and make it a cornerstone of all mitigation, adaptation and recovery strategies, he continued.  Moreover, the crisis highlighted the global interconnectedness and clarified the meaning and practicality of “living in a global village”.  Ahead of the climate change conference in Glasgow, he reaffirmed his country’s resolve to support development of effective climate change responses, while fast‑tracking the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on a national platform.

Turning to education, he said the closure of schools and institutions of higher learning during the pandemic had a devastating impact in the developing countries, which lacked access to digital learning resources.  Highlighting economic challenges experienced by his country during the pandemic, he thanked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for approving special drawing rights to boost global liquidity.  His country launched a reconstruction fund to rebuild infrastructure and economy, following its civil unrest.  Turning to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he cited his country’s progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, as well as in the introduction of a monitoring system to the national development framework.

Underscoring his Governments repeated call for Africa’s voice to be heard at the Security Council, he declared that the United Nations’ work will be revitalized when all members and regions are efficiently and effectively represented.  Detailing how the Tinkhundla system of governance works, he underscored that he supported democracy as an idea, but not as an ideal “because things that are ideal to you may not be ideal to other people”, he pointed out.

“Our country is committed to consultations with the people at the People’s Parliament, Sibaya,” he went on to say, spotlighting the democratic and participatory nature of this process.  As a nation, Eswatini was committed to the preservation of cultural norms and traditions, promotion of peace and stability, and dialogue.  Moreover, Eswatini offers every Liswati an opportunity to voice his or her opinion in a free and fair environment.  He also urged the United Nations to consider the meaningful participation of “Taiwan”, highlighting that country’s continued support in providing medical assistance to Eswatini’s health sector during the pandemic.

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