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A significant test for multilateral diplomacy

By Ioan Voicu - posted Friday, 20 November 2020

A new diplomatic event

The current 75th session of UNGA is expected to address all relevant issues regarding the new global context generated in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, a significant new diplomatic and institutional event has taken place which has opened up a cardinal question: what next?

On 29 October 2020, under agenda item 128 of the UNGA, Strengthening of the United Nations system, a draft resolution presented by the President of the UNGA (Volkan Bozkir) entitled Special Session of the General Assembly in response to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was circulated around the world.


After informal diplomatic consultations and a brief procedural debate, the draft was adopted on November 5, 2020, and all ASEM member countries voted in favor of the resolution.

The resolution includes a short preamble and 10 operative paragraphs.

As the preamble contains a number of consensual ideas on COVID-19, it deserves to be summarized in these pages, as a meaningful instrument of multilateral diplomacy.

First, the UNGA noted "with concern the threat to human health, safety and well-being caused by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which has spread around the world, as well that the multifaceted effects of the pandemic, including the severe disruption of societies, economies, global trade and travel and the devastating effects on people's livelihoods ".

The UNGA also recognized that "the global COVID-19 pandemic requires a people-centered, gender-sensitive global response with full respect for human rights, multidimensional, coordinated, inclusive and innovative, based on 'unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation'.

In the same preamble, the UNGA reaffirmed the commitment of 193 member states to international cooperation and multilateralism and noted the fundamental role of the United Nations system in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the crucial role played by WHO and the crucial efforts of Member States ".


Finally, the preamble contains an important piece of information. A majority of UN member states have already approved the request, made on behalf of member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, to convene a special session of the UNGA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the level of heads of state and government.

The entire operative part of the resolution is devoted to the organizational aspects of the proposed extraordinary session, which will be held on 3 and 4 December 2020 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

A promising turning point

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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