Younten Tshedup 

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, in his inaugural statement at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 22, highlighted the importance of multilateralism, the theme for this year’s General Assembly, among member countries in the wake of the pandemic.

The annual meeting, which commenced on September 21 in New York, was held online this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the pandemic high on the agenda, among other issues of global concern.

In his first virtual participation at the General Assembly, Lyonchhen said that the Covid-19 pandemic, like the impacts of climate change, has once again reminded how countries across the world are all interconnected.

“If we don’t strategise and if we don’t act together, Covid-19 and future Covids will turnaround the human developments and achievements by decades. And for the poorer countries, it will be almost irreversible,” he said.

Lyonchhen said that issues like climate change and pandemic affected the developing countries disproportionately, which was why the theme for the 75th session was very appropriate and timely.

Among others, who called for member countries to come together to fight the pandemic, the UNGA President, Ambassador Volkan Bozki Bozkir of Turkey said: 

“Today, we must leave our differences and disagreements aside. Today, we must renew our collective commitment to multilateralism. Today, we must combine our efforts to address this global problem, and we must make sure that no one is left behind.”

The ambassador said that the world was witnessing rising levels of mistrust and rivalry between major powers and that international institutions succeed only when they manage to mediate such tensions.

Meanwhile, going forward, Lyonchhen said that 25 years later when the UN observes its 100th anniversary, in 2045, member countries must achieve 100 percent literacy rate to empower everyone with relevant skills and knowledge to help them live a meaningful life.

He added that along with education, everyone must be 100 percent digitally competent to help them explore business and opportunities from anywhere in the world.

“As a doctor, I cannot help but pray that as the UN turns 100 in 2045, our health system should have advanced so much that our life expectancy should touch three digits,” he said. “If the world comes together, driven by common goals and dreams, no challenges can be difficult and no task unachievable.”

Lyonchhen also congratulated the global body for touching the 75 years milestone.

“If not for Covid-19, this event is worthy for a festivity. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the Secretary Generals and their teams who have contributed so much to make the UN a success story,” he said.

With every leader, the organisation rose to greater heights and millions of families were lifted out of poverty, conflicts and crisis, he added.

He said that nations, irrespective of size and location, received a common platform as a member of a common planet. “UN has been a friend who has supported our socioeconomic programmes and also set impetus to keep pace with the rest of the world. I thank the UN and partner countries for the support.”