The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off earlier this month, bringing together world leaders across the globe to address issues that affect us now and will do so for years to come.
The liberal presence at this prestigious platform was strong, with European Council President Charles Michel and liberal Prime Ministers all holding speeches on topics that matter the most for shared European and global future.
In his speech, Charles Michel reflected on the ongoing global threats, such as climate change and the ongoing pandemic, and their influence on generations to come. He urged everyone to take responsibility and reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union:
“It is time for us to transform the world, just as the previous generation did after the last World War. Inspired by these principles, they left us an international order based on rules. To promote peace. They built liberal democracies. To guarantee the dignity of each individual. They championed a development model based on the freedom to trade and to pursue economic opportunity. To ensure prosperity.”
“Transforming the world. Making it fairer and safer. And protecting the dignity of each individual. This is the United Nations’ pledge. […] You can count on the European Union.”
Liberal Prime Ministers Xavier Bettel, Alexander De Croo, Micheál Martin and Mark Rutte also delivered their remarks at UNGA.
Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel highlighted the need for cross-sector cooperation in his speech to tackle global crises such as climate change, human rights violations and the global pandemic, while not giving up hope:
“As politicians, we must act decisively, together, to tackle global challenges. Governments do not have all the keys in hand. We must act in concert with private sector actors, civil society, our citizens, and in particular young people who are rightly worried about their future.”
“There are reasons to be hopeful. Let's not give up. Let’s persevere. Let's take action. Let us cooperate to overcome the trials facing mankind.”
Full speech available here (in French)
In his speech, Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo made note of the distribution of vaccines across the globe, calling for solidarity between nations. He also reflected on the situation in Afghanistan and the global climate crisis:
“If we are to overcome this pandemic, vaccine solidarity is a crucial condition, since no one will be safe until everyone is safe. It is therefore unacceptable that today less than four percent of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated. As Hammarskjöld said: the weakness of one is the weakness of all. As long as the virus continues to circulate, the risk of new variants is there, and no one will be safe.”
“’No one is safe until everyone is safe’. Let this be our common objective when it comes to climate, security and human rights as well. Let that guideline inspire our actions every day.”
In his remarks, Taoiseach Micheál Martin highlighted the need for global leadership at this crucial point in time, calling for united approach in the fight against existing and emerging crises:
“I believe that this is what the General Assembly – our Assembly of Nations – was created to do - our purpose, our obligation. The United Nations is a symbol of hope for billions of people around the world. […] The obligation we assume in this hall is to transform that hope, in the face of our common challenges, into a better future for all our peoples.”
“As I stand here today, I am reminded of the ambitions, the goals, and the dreams of billions of people. They have placed their trust in us, and they expect us to work together to solve the greatest challenges facing our global community. We know that with political will, we can be deserving of that trust.”
In his speech, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte underlined the importance of acting on climate and defending human rights globally, while not giving up on our shared humanity:
“It is up to us to make the right choices. I see it as our solemn duty to bring about that breakthrough. To work together on solutions to the major problems of our time. Together with people from all walks of life. Together with NGOs and businesses. For today’s generations and for generations to come.”
“I want to appeal to everyone here: let us not give in to cynicism and fatalism. That is my message today. Especially today. And especially here. This place, UN Headquarters, this beacon of international cooperation, has proved in the past that we can find solutions together. Even if our problems seem too big and too complex.”