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UN General Assembly – 75th session 15-30 September 2020 held virtually for 1st time

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UN General Assembly - 75th session 15-30 September 2020 held virtually for 1st timeThe 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 75) was held virtually for the first time amid COVID -19 from September 15 to September 30, 2020. It was hosted by the United States of America (USA) from New York and under the Presidency of Volkan Bozkir of Turkey.

During the session, a special event was organized on September 21, 2020 marking the 75th anniversary of UN. The event was held under the theme “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism” while the theme of the session was “The future we want, the United Nations we need, reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting the COVID-19 through effective multilateral action”. 

  • It should be noted that for this session the world leaders submitted pre-recorded video statements which were played in the General Assembly Hall during the general debate held from Sept 22-29 at the beginning of each session of the General Assembly.
  • From India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the high-level meeting to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN on September 22 and the General Debate on September 26 through the pre-recorded video statements. These statements were presented by Permanent Representative of India to the UN,TS Tirumurti.

Key Highlights from PM Modi Address:

–India is elected as a non-permanent member for the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021. India’s overall objective during its tenure will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S – a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.

–India is a founding signatory of the UN Charter.

–India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.

–UNGA adopted forward-looking declaration to mark 75th anniversary of United Nations

On September 21, 2020 a “Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations” was adopted at the high level meeting for strengthening mechanism to combat terrorism, reformed multilateralism, inclusive development and better preparedness to deal with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • As a part of declaration the 193 member nations commit to leave no one behind, protect the planet, promote peace and prevent conflicts, abide by international law and ensure justice, place women and girls at the centre, build trust, improve digital cooperation, upgrade the UN, ensure sustainable financing, boost partnerships, listen to and work with youth.

–India endorsed US’ Joint Statement On Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

On September 23, 2020, a joint statement issued by US on “Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)” stating its ‘re-dedication’. This move is endorsed by India along with Bahrain, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, the Maldives, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

About UDHR:

Adopted in 1948 by UNGA, it is a “milestone document” in the history of human rights as it was drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world. It acts as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. 

  • It set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

Point to be noted: 

Late Hansa Jivraj Mehta, who served as the Indian delegate to the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1947 to 1948 is widely credited with making a significant change in the language of Article 1 of the UDHR by replacing the phrase “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal”.

–G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting held virtually; Demanded urgency in UNSC reforms

The foreign ministers of the G4 countries (Group of Four) comprising India, Japan, Germany and Brazil hold a virtual meeting during UN75 session. The grouping demanded urgent reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC) while expressing their concern at the lack of any meaningful movement in the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reform.

  • The meeting was attended by Union External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar from India, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, Japan’s Motegi Toshimitsu and Minister of State at German Foreign Office Niels Annen.

About United Nations Security Council (UNSC):
Headquarters– New York, United States (US)
Members– 15 Nations 

–Prakash Javadekar addressed UN Summit on Biodiversity 

On September 30, 2020, Union minister Prakash Keshav Javadekar addressed the UN Summit on Biodiversity, which was convened by the President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development”.The summit is first of its kind ever taken place on Biodiversity in the United Nations General Assembly. We are approaching the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 so, there is an urgent need to accelerate action to conserve biodiversity. 

Key Highlights from Address:

-India has added around 3 million hectares of forest and tree cover, which has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country.

-India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030.

-India has also set additional targets of eliminating single-use plastic by 2022 and installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

-The post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2021 provides a good opportunity to enhance efforts to conserve and protect nature.

-India has organized two Conference of Parties (CoPs) for conserving biodiversity viz. CoP 14 of UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) during September 2019 in New Delhi, and CoP 13 of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat during February 2020.

–Bihar CM Nitish Kumar attended UN climate roundtable virtually 

On the sidelines of the UNGA-75 session, on September 25, 2020, a high level Roundtable on Climate Ambition was hosted by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres during which Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the only leader from India to participate.

  • He shared his state’s policy initiatives and sustainable development efforts, including climate resilient agriculture and water conservation, aimed at contributing to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.
  • He spoke in the segment titled ”Aligning Nationally Determined Contributions, long-term low emission development strategies, COVID-19 recovery packages and business plans with the 1.5C and carbon neutrality by 2050 goals.”

Bihar has 2% of the world’s population. It is developing its growth strategy around water conservation and greening initiatives under the ‘Jal Jeevan Hariyaali Abhiyaan’. For enhancing its green cover, an additional USD 3.5 billion is allocated from the state budget.

–Smriti Irani participated in High-level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing +25

On October 1, 2020, Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani addressed the High-level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing +25 virtually.

The theme of the event was “Accelerating the realisation of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.

  • It should be noted that recently India got elected as Member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global body focused on gender equality and women empowerment.

Recent Related News:

i.The United Nations (UN) weather Agency, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its “Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update for 2020-2024” has forecasted that the annual mean global temperature are already at least 1 C higher now than during the period from 1850-1900 because of man-made greenhouse emissions and there is a 20% chance that it will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) in at least one year between 2020-2024.

ii.On 10th July 2020, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its World Wildlife Crime Report stating that the Seizure of the scales of the Pangolins, the most trafficked wild animal in the world has increased 10 times between the year 2014 and 2018. The report was prepared by the UNODC Crime Research Section.