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Volkan Bozkir (General Assembly President) at the 3rd meeting of the Third Committee - General Assembly, 75th session
6 Oct 2020 -  Address by Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, during the 3rd meeting of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee).

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
I am delighted to address you today – my first to a UN GA Main Committee.
I see the Main Committees as kind of a factory of the General Assembly with a laboratory and a producing line which establishes the products for the General Assembly work.
I’ve been told that Third Committee is one of the “hottest” in the United Nations and therefore it is only fitting that this is the first Committee I have the pleasure to address this session.
I would like to congratulate the Chair, Her Excellency Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, and all Bureau Members on your election, and wish you every success for this session.
Additionally, I applaud the Third Committee for electing a woman as Chair – it is the only Committee to do so far for the 75th Session. As I said at last week’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, we need more women in power and we need more women leaders.
The 75th session will undoubtably be affected by COVID19, not least due to the limitations placed on in-person meetings. We would normally be holding this meeting in the more intimate Committee room, but instead are sitting in a socially distant way in the General Assembly Hall to protect our health. But we must also consider ourselves lucky that we have been able to at least have these meetings in person after so many months of very difficult period we have seen.
As we all know, the benefit of face-to-face diplomacy cannot not be taken for granted. I extend my congratulations to the Bureau for their pragmatism in proceeding with a hybrid working model that includes in-person meetings, this is one of them.
Distinguished delegates,
The pandemic has challenged us in ways unlike any other issue in the 75- year history of the United Nations. It is more than a global health crisis – it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. It has increased poverty, gender inequality, and disrupted livelihoods.
Indeed, the consequences of the pandemic are most pronounced in relation to the matters on the agenda of this Committee – many of which are also among my top priorities. These include the realization of gender equality and the advancement of the humanitarian agenda, including a focus on the most vulnerable.
The pandemic has put our achievements on gender equality under threat.
Lockdown measures have led to increased domestic violence, compounding pre-existing gaps in the prevention of gender-based violence and domestic abuse. It is essential that we allocate additional resources, and include evidence-based measures, to address violence against women and girls in COVID-19 national response plans we must absolutely make sure this happens.
Many women will be unable to return to the workforce because they disproportionately shoulder the burden of unpaid care and home schooling. For these women, self-isolation could become detrimental to their wellbeing.
COVID19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and threatened to push those furthest [behind] into even more vulnerable positions. Ongoing humanitarian crises have worsened, it is now including a deepening global hunger crisis. The number of acutely food insecure people in countries affected by conflict, natural disaster or economic crises is predicted to nearly double from 149 million pre- COVID19 to 270 million. If assistance is not provided urgently, we are going to see these figures in our lives. Recent estimates also suggest that COVID-19 related disruptions in essential health and nutrition services could result in up to 6,000 daily deaths of children from preventable causes in the next 6 months.
Children’s education is also in peril. The pandemic has highlighted the challenges of remote learning for children in communities around the world where internet connectivity is scarce.
Displaced communities, including refugees and internally displaced persons, far from their homes due to conflicts, disasters, and persecution, are another vulnerable group acutely impacted by COVID19. For example, crowded living conditions in refugee camps and asylum centres, make these communities more susceptible to contracting the virus while the reallocation of resources has adversely impacted access to the necessary health services.
Of course, the risk of the pandemic causing further displacement must also be taken into account in our collective commitment to contain and address COVID19.
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