- Canada – Prime Minister’s Address – Fernando Ferrera,cmf, Canada
- Colombia – President’s Address – Jaime Absalón León Sepúlveda, Colombia.
- Costa Rica – President’s Address – JPIC, Costa Rica
- Congo – DRC – President’s Address – Claretian Solidarity and Mission Team in DR Congo.
- Cuba – President’s Address – Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba
- Dominican – President’s Address – Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba
- Kenya – President’s Address – Robert Omondi CMF, Nairobi, Kenya
- Haiti – President’s Address – Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba
- India – Prime Minister’s Address – Peter D’Souza CMF, Bangalore, India.
- Mozambique – President’s Address – Joby Madathiparambil, CMF, Mozambique
- Nigeria – President’s Address – Kenneth Ugochukwu, cmf, Nigeria
- Panama – President’s Address – New Generation, Panama
- Paraguay – President’s Address – Luis Villasanti cmf, Yhu, Paraguay
- Philippines – President’s Address – JPIC, Philippines.
- Spain – Prime Minister’s Address – Jose Antonio Benitez, CMF
- Sri Lanka – President’s Address – Everest Dias CMF, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
- South Korea – President’s Address – Jose Peedika cmf, South Korea
- Uruguay – President’s Address – SOMI Uruguay Team
- United States of America – President’s Address – Art Gramage CMF, USA-Canada Province
- Vatican – Holy Father Pope Francis Address – José María VIGIL CMF, Jose Antonio Benitez, CMF
“In a world turned upside down, this General Assembly Hall is among the strangest sights of all. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our annual meeting beyond recognition. But it has made it more important than ever”, these were the words of António Guterres, the Secretary General at the Opening of the General Debate of the 75th Session of the General Assembly, on Tuesday, 22 September 2020.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the United Nations. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly. Each year, in September, the full UN membership meets in the General Assembly Hall in New York for the annual General Assembly session, and general debate, which many Heads of State and Heads of government attend and address. This year the 75th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) took place from September 16 to 30.
For the first time in the history of the United Nations, global leaders were not able to meet in person for the GA’s annual debate. The Assembly made a historic decision in July, 2020 to allow the leaders to send in pre-recorded video messages, and the videos to be introduced by a representative of each State, who will be physically present at the GA hall. Because of this format, more Member States than ever took part in the annual general debate, pressing ahead with a full slate of issues, from cooperation on much-hoped for COVID-19 vaccines and reviving global multilateralism, to promoting gender equality and climate action.
Wrapping up the debate on September 30 at the largely empty General Assembly Hall in New York, Volkan Bozkir, the president of the 75th session said, “This meeting has been substantive and exceptional” and stressed the need for multilateralism and unity. “The challenges facing us are enormous, but so are the possibilities of solutions,” he said. “By working together, we can overcome them.”
The highlight of the general debate of this year’s General Assembly is the address of the Holy Father. Holy Father Pope Francis addressed at the debate as the head of the State of Vatican on September 25.
The Holy Father First addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 2015. His visit was coincided with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” This was the first time in the 75-year history of United Nations a Pope was present for the opening of the General Assembly. And never in the Papal history has the Head of the Catholic Church addressed such an array of world leaders.
As customary, this year too, there many High-Level Meetings (meetings participated by the heads of state and heads of governments) took place during the 75th session of the General Assembly.
High-Level Meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN – September 21
High-Level Meeting on Climate Action- September 24
High-Level Meeting on Finance for Development – September 29
High-Level Meeting on accelerating the end of the COVID-19 pandemic – September 30
Biodiversity Summit – September 30
High-Level Meeting on25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing + 25) – October 1
High-Level Meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. -October 2
We asked the reactions and comments of some of the Claretians regarding the address of their Head of the State or the Head of the Government at the general debate and they provided their comments.
1. Canada – Prime Minister’s Address
25 Sep 2020 – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Commentary on the speech by Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada to the 75th UN Assembly.
This speech has been a journey from the history of the world 70 0 50 years ago with a reality different from the current one.
At present we are living a world crisis at different levels and COVID 19 has come to worsen this situation. He called for “going beyond”, to preserve our world for future generations. I invite you to “work together, as we have the opportunity to do so”.
Canada has always distinguished itself in “promoting peace” around the world; we must continue to do so today. “We can build the foundations of a better world. This has been a message that encourages people to fight, to work together and to live with hope.
(Fernando Ferrera, cmf Victoriaville, QC. Canadá.)
2. Colombia – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
THE FACTS PROVE IT… IT IS NOT TRUE WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAYS AT THE UN
The facts prove this and contradict what President Ivan Duque Márquez declared at the UN General Assembly in 75 years. Far from the truth, these are public lies blatantly exposed before this honorable multilateral space, as we will mention in the following points.
1. On environmental issues, the pyrrhic figures of reforestation, the supposed recovery of natural parks and the protection of the moors in the country. Deforestation has increased in the last two years. Departments such as Meta, Guaviare, Caquetá, Amazonas, Putumayo, continue to expand pastures for grazing, legal and illegal crops; logging, illegal mining and requests for legal concessions to extract minerals have increased. Similarly, the recovery of natural parks is coming where state forces in the former region known as Guayabero arrived with aggressions, arbitrary detentions, displacements, threats by members of the public force – widely denounced – which brings us back to the lack of compliance, In point 1, land for these and other poor peasants, victims of violence, on the other hand, exacerbates the problem of land concentration with reforms to the already harmful ZIDRES law that gives land to national and foreign landowners and the 4 law on the substitution of crops for illicit use, as signed by the State and the FARC-EP four years ago; But in addition, the government eagerly promises glyphosate fumigation, which is an environmental crime and worse for the health of the peasants and indigenous people than what is caused by coca cultivation, together with the gradual withdrawal of funding from the PENIS and everything related to the implementation of peace in the regions, which accelerates regional conflicts and sends numerous troops to quell citizen discontent. As for the protection of the páramos, here it is the most odious lie of the environmental issue, the government continues with the project of handing over the páramo of Santurban in Santander to Minesa for the extraction of gold, which will end in a short time this source of water and of Bio diversity.
2. With regard to the fulfilment of the peace agreements, in addition to what was mentioned in the previous #, the insecurity in the regions has increased, more than 50 massacres in 2020, the assassination of social leaders, at least 150 in the same year 2020, the violence and institutional brutality in the demonstrations and citizen demands has increased in the last two years, the events of September tarnish this government, instead of calling for dialogue, sanctioning and accepting its responsibility it attacks the citizens by assassinating at least 14 demonstrators, the majority of whom are young people. Furthermore, questioning the CEV, JEP under the slogan of legality, undermined peace and interfered with judicial independence, as by repeating negative statements such as that peace was made in order to hand the country over to the guerrilla, many of the senators and members of the government repeated phrases that deteriorated the atmosphere of peace, instead of seeking to ensure that all the players complied with what had been agreed and continued to achieve peace. The deaths of men and women of the former FARC erode the little confidence in the ex-combatants; more than 220 ex-combatants have been killed, which is an obvious failure to comply with what was agreed.
3. The measures to address COVID 19 have been insufficient and have increased poverty, nearly 2 million jobs have been lost and informality has increased, but the government insisted on financing banks, companies like Avianca, but refused to approve the demand and the pressing need for a basic income and subsidies for poor families. The government’s figures show giant achievements, but they are only water towels.
4. To conclude this tiny analysis, on the issue of space, the government has insisted on disobeying the rulings of the Cortés and judicial decisions, in several cases, for example, to change the way it has been dealing with social protest. In a ruling issued this week, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the executive to apologize for events such as the death of Dylan Cruz in November 2020, and to review the protocols and weapons used by the public forces to repress the demonstrations, which they have refused to do.
3. Costa Rica – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of the Republic of Costa Rica
I listened to the speech and read it in Spanish. I think he is lying and using his speech to benefit himself. In Costa Rica they are now, wanting to approve exaggerated loans with the IMF and new and harmful taxes. Measures to end the hanging of the people and destroy small and medium enterprises. The powerful partners of the government are exonerated. The speech also mentions the Indigenous Peoples, and the truth is that the systematic violence of the state is increasingly strong. Only yesterday the Attorney General’s Office and the indigenous prosecutors asked for the investigation into the crime of rights defender Sergio Rojas to be closed, as he had reported that he was wanted to be killed on the day of his murder. There is indignation in all sectors of the social movements. It is an offensive slap in the face of the Indigenous Peoples. And it is a danger because the landowners and cattle ranchers will say: if we kill Sergio and they did nothing, we can kill the rest. And they say this to the face of the indigenous leaders, they put the accusations on and they are dismissed. The government at the head of Alvarado offers and says empty words. If you want me to speak or write I have to tell the truth. I am sorry for my vote for the PAC, the governing party, which has betrayed us in many respects, economically, environmentally, fiscally, and in terms of labour, and which has become akin to the richest business associations for those it governs.
JPIC, Costa Rica
4. Congo – DRC – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
We welcome the participation of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 75th UN Assembly. In his speech he has pointed out fundamental issues for the life of the Congolese people.
As for health, the President pointed out the coordination of international solidarity through the WHO to strengthen the national health system. In addition, “the pandemic has reminded us that there is only one planet, one health and our fortunes are linked,” he said. In that sense, the resident congratulated the efforts of the measures taken by the G20 and the international financial institutions by extending the deadline for debt repayment and invited at the same time to take other decisions in view of the total cancellation of the debt.
We can only support and sustain this invitation lamented by the head of state. We believe that the need to lighten this burden of debt in order to help developing countries effectively emerge from the crisis and to ensure the post-COVID 19 is a decisive point. However, we have not seen the effective implementation of a health policy that is up to the challenges of the DRC in the area of health, especially in rural areas. In fact, the extreme health precariousness of the country and the persistence of pandemics will continue as long as there are not very strong gestures in terms of investment in the public health system. And this does not depend only on the cancellation of the debt.
On the other hand, the President has pointed out that all support measures as well as supplementary funding to developing countries should not be linked to any conditionality nor should they impose the implementation of economic policy reforms such as austerity measures. This observation has been relevant and timely, since “the foreign debt of the poor countries has been transformed into an instrument of control, but the same is not true of the ecological debt” (LS 52). Both in Africa and in Latin America we have already had unfortunate experiences associated with the implementation of IMF rulings and specifically with austerity measures. However, we consider that the government has not yet sufficiently demonstrated its willingness to implement alternative educational, health, productive and social policies to the neoliberal mandates of the international financial institutions.
With regard to climate change, the Head of State stressed that his government is determined to do everything possible to achieve the realization of its commitments made in favor of the climate and the preservation of the forest. We ask ourselves how he can fulfill this commitment without a policy of energy sovereignty that ensures universal access and without effectively supporting the peasant communities that inhabit the forest or the bush. In fact, the use of embers, the practice of agriculture on burned land and the forestry industry are the main causes of deforestation in the DR Congo. To date, the exceptional hydroelectric potential of the Congo Basin has not been put at the service of forest preservation and village development. We regret the silence and even the contradiction of the discourse on this point.
The incorporation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and Agenda 2063 of the African Union in the National Strategic Development Plan has undoubtedly been a gesture of openness to international collaboration. However, in order to go beyond the purely formal level and make this platform a real instrument to guarantee fundamental rights, policies are needed to effectively ensure access to land, work and social security. In a largely rural population based on a subsistence economy, as is the case in the DRC, extreme poverty and inequalities will never be eradicated
as long as public education and health are not free. Unfortunately, in the discourse we find nothing more than generalities about the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since the security situation in the DRC is one of the key elements hindering development and diplomacy is a not insignificant path, the President’s speech was more than diplomatic on security matters. The security of the DRC in the east of the country remains precarious. The population is abandoned to its own sad fate in the eyes of the leaders of the international community represented by the United Nations Mission in the Congo, MONUSCO for short.
With the DRC’s armed forces infiltrated by foreigners into its high ranks, they are unable to protect the population properly. As a result, instead of bowing down before the whole world by talking about support for the armed groups and the networks that supply them, the Congolese head of state should, in our humble opinion, have taken the international community as a witness by expressing to it the terminal state of the population, taking serious measures to protect the population and generally warning of the different countries involved in the massacres of the people.
Let us say then that this speech by the Congolese Head of State has flattered the aggressors of the Congolese to the detriment of the latter, victims of atrocities. It is therefore necessary to awaken the conscience of the Congolese people so that they know how to take charge of themselves, without telling too much about the rulers who have not yet managed to work for their interests.
Once again, we welcome the participation of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 75th Assembly of the United Nations and we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our prophesied mission.
Once again, we welcome the participation of the President in the 75th Assembly of the United Nations and we welcome it as an opportunity to strengthen our prophetic mission.
Bibi-Béatrice KIDILA, Franco Torres, cmf
Claretian Solidarity and Mission Team in DR Congo.
5. Cuba – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Miguel Díaz Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba
The United States lives in rage against Cuba, as Díaz Canel rightly says:
“Not a week goes by without that government issuing statements against Cuba or imposing new restrictions. At a time when the whole world is living under the harassment of the coronavirus pandemic, it is not fair to condemn Cuba and the continuous forms of irrational blockade. The damage is to the Cuban people. It is not understood how Obama opens his hand and Trump closes it. Presidents of the same country with totally contradictory positions and policies without coherence and without respect.
I do not share President Díaz Canel’s request, when he is asking for the Nobel Peace Prize for Cuban doctors, when in fact the Nobel Peace Prize is deserved by health personnel all over the world. The request is not timely at this time as hundreds of doctors around the world are sacrificing and dying to save lives.
Finally, I am struck by the Cuban President’s request for the democratization of the United Nations: “It is urgent that this indispensable Organization (UN) be democratized so that it can respond effectively to the needs and aspirations of all peoples”. I believe that requesting this request does not cease to surprise me since Cuba also needs urgent democratization.
Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba 2020
6. Dominican – President’s Address
23 Sep 2020 – Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, President of the Dominican Republic
One of the contributions to be considered is his UN speech to the UN General Assembly on its 75th anniversary, which called for all human beings to have universal access to the COVID 19 vaccine. President Abinader said: “I fully agree that the vaccine should be a universal good and therefore President Abinader demands that the vaccine be accessible to all human beings on the planet. This is why an organization like this was born. To be up to the task in historic moments. To this end, the role of the World Health Organization is fundamental, as is the creation of a global solidarity fund to serve as a reserve to alleviate the ravages of future pandemics.
President Abinader committed his government to implement the most ambitious public health programme for the Dominican Republic, achieving universal health coverage by increasing public investment.
This is somehow motivated by the precarious situation of public health in the Dominican Republic as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Countries are suffering the consequences and in this case the government is motivated to invest in health as a strategy for the future. I would like to congratulate this initiative and I personally congratulate it and hope that it can be fulfilled because it is a need felt by all Dominicans since the path of public policy in health throughout these years has been directed towards a private public health system where the most vulnerable sectors had been left out of the system due to social disadvantage.
And finally, another valuable contribution of President Abinader to our common home was: Ladies and Gentlemen: I bring to this meeting the mandate of the Dominican people to proclaim the commitment of our nation to the protection of the environment and to continue supporting the Paris Agreements.
Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba
7. Kenya – President’s Address
23 Sep 2020 – Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya
In his opening remarks on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that this is “a moment to reflect, introspect and to establish if the anchor” of Global institution “still holds, or if our community of nations has been unanchored by the challenges of our times.
He observed that at 75 years, the UN is older than most of its members states as well as 96% of the Global population. This experiential dividend, he pointed out, presents us with an array of opportunities but at the same time, it also portents a risk of creating disconnectedness from the primordial value systems that informed the charter framework of international cooperation.
Arguing in favor of international responsiveness to the demand of multilateralism, he highlighted the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused an unprecedented crisis triggering an adverse multiplier effect to an already complex Global relational scene. This has been characterized by geo-strategic tensions, climate biodiversity challenge, social economic inequalities, vulnerabilities of the digital world, as well as the crisis of legitimacy and governance which further underscores the imperative of multilateral action. He however qualified the components of multilateralism as constituting, unity of purpose, agility in embracing change and positive transformation, as well as rootedness in a rule-based international system which are all grounded in innovativeness, safety and sustainable peace.
In his capacity as both the head of state and the President-in-Office of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), he pointed out the urgency of the collective global action purposely designed to Post-COVID recovery mechanisms for the poorest nations. He singled out debt moratorium as a feasible strategy to cushion the poorer countries from falling further backwards
Finally, he reiterated the importance of shared responsibility and a commitment to the SDG framework as tried and viable models for multilateralism. Kenya, he said, is alive to the gravity which these challenges portent. But borrowing from the ‘marathon’ skills sets, Kenya shall apply the values of endurance, teamwork and persistence to ensure than No One Is Left Behind and the dream of Building Back Better is collectively realized.
Robert Omondi CMF, Nairobi, Kenya
8. Haiti – President’s Address
24 Sep 2020 – Jovenel Moïse, President of the Republic of Haiti
The Haitian President called for projects that are adapted to needs, respond to priorities and enable his country to implement economic development based on people, national production and the building of capacities and institutions. This demand to the UN for the 75th anniversary has to be understood from the position that Haiti occupies, being the poorest country in Latin America. It is a mistake to continue sending millions of dollars for this “human-based economic development”. In the end, this money ends up in the pockets of the politicians in power. Today, the Republic of Haiti is on the streets and is claiming this embezzled money and is therefore suffering from a paralysis that it has been facing for months in the midst of a complex socio-economic crisis and a scenario of political polarization. This request for help must not fall on deaf ears. The multilateralism that Jovenel Moïses insists on is here to stay, but how can it be made effective?
In this sense also the pandemic in Haiti is generating much more marginalization and death in the marginalized neighborhoods of the country. That is why I propose that economic aid should be accompanied by technical equipment technology and that projects for the construction of schools, hospitals and agricultural infrastructure should be implemented. In this way the ODS will land and become a reality in the most vulnerable countries such as Haiti. The President of Haiti’s calls for multilateralism are those endorsing the joint efforts of several countries to help the most vulnerable countries. They are capable of sending the Minustah, just as they are not capable of sending aid to improve the quality of people’s lives.
Manuel Pliego cmf, Santiago de Cuba
9. India – Prime Minister’s Address
26 Sep 2020 – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India
25 Sep 2020 – Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
25 Sep 2020 – 1st Right of Reply by India
25 Sep 2020 – 1st Right of Reply by Pakistan
(Background – The address of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Right to reply of India and Pakistan to the address of the Prime Minister of Pakistan)
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, did not bring out anything new in his speech compared to the last year speech, His comments on the planting of 10 billion trees seems to be a far from reality, but if implemented would be good for the environment. The comments on Jammu and Kashmir have been the same. It is true that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are facing some difficulties regarding the free speech, Movement and are made to live in fear.
The first reply given by India to Pakistan is mostly true, it brings about a reasonable picture of Pakistan, a failed state trying to survive on borrowed time. Its medieval ideology of Islamic tenets, which advocates death to other religions should be examined by all the nations very seriously and I am a personal advocate of banning Islam in its present form of terrorizing and killing, by the UN all over the world. Unless the Islamists openly reject terrorism, killing and jihad which form the basic tenets of Islam, should be banned by all countries.
The Prime Minister Modi’s speech even though good in intent, especially while speaking about the achievements and developments within India, it is not perceivable to the naked eye. The claims are true on paper and policy, but not in reality.
The need to bring in reforms in the UN, a call given by Prime Minister Modi is a felt need of the majority of the peoples of the world, which needs to be supported by all nations, to bring about a reasonable change in structure of the UN, where better participation and implementation for World Peace, Human Development, Sustainable Future and Ecological Harmony and Balance, is required.
The First reply of Pakistan about the state of India has got lot of facts true, especially about The RSS, BJP and Fascist ideology, they need to be addressed properly by the UN, the religious freedom to other religions especially Christianity which advocates love and brotherhood among all peoples, is facing real difficulty of unprecedented scale in India, persecutions and killings are increasing.
Islam is also facing difficulties, but I think it is their own doing, getting involved in terrorism and killing in multiple scale, and intolerance and arrogance in Muslim dominated regions to other faiths have hardened the stand of other faiths to rise to fundamentalism. This is a consequence and reaction to the intolerance and arrogance of the Islamist propogandists.
Peter D’Souza CMF, Bangalore, India.
10. Mozambique – President’s Address
23 Sep 2020 – Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique
The President of Mozambique was proudly delighted to address the 75 the session of General Debate.
President mentioned about this year Mozambique complete 45 years of acceptance of fully plunged member of UN organization.
Mozambican Government also expressed our willingness to work together with UN Organization for promoting the Sustainable goals.
The President of the Republic, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, said that multilateral cooperation remains the best approach to address the challenges and alleviate the suffering of the people who are the main reason for the creation of the United Nations.
“Multilateralism within the United Nations is still fundamental if we consider that the world’s economy, especially that of developing countries, has been severely torn apart by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its restoration requires global, integrated interventions and concerted, ”said the Mozambican statesman in his speech.
According to the Head of State, Mozambique welcomes and reaffirms its support for the actions of the United Nations Secretary-General, aimed at reforming the United Nations, in the areas of peace and security, peace operations, development and management of the organization.
“The reform has the merit of placing international peace, security and stability as catalysts for the global development agenda, as well as making the UN more representative, efficient and transparent, in light of the contemporary geopolitical situation, which can confer greater effectiveness and legitimacy. to the decisions of this body ”, said the president.
However, President Nyusi points out that despite these advances, there is concern about the lack of progress in inter-governmental negotiations for the reform of the Security Council to have results in line with the 21st Century.
The president also addressed to the UN the present horrible situation in the Northern part of the Mozambique(Cabo Delagado)-attack of the terrorist. He thanks UN secretary General and his organizing members for the support, availability and dedication to promote peace and security in our nation .
Joby Madathiparambil, CMF, Mozambique
11. Nigeria – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is the President of the most populous black nation in the world. A nation richly blessed with abundance of untapped natural and human resources. Nigeria has over 250 distinct ethnic groups with their distinct languages and cultures and a teeming youthful population. Although the youth participation is apparently encouraged in Nigerian politics, it is not accorded the opportunity to function adequately in decision making despite the fact that it constitutes over 60% of the entire population.
Presently, there is unbearable hardship, poverty and high unemployment rate. With the corona virus pandemic, these indices have tripled beyond proportion and the gap between the haves and have-nots have increased tremendously. Terrorism, Insecurity, banditry, kidnapping and animal rustling are among the prominent crimes making headlines on the front pages of most national dailies. These may also be attributed to the fantastically structured and organized corrupt system that mars the nation’s democracy. With the challenges posed by such a system, it becomes really difficult to implement the SDGs.
In his presentation at the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, President Buhari reiterated his commitment to guarantee human rights, human dignity, prospects and prosperity guided by the principle of leaving no one behind. This is captured in his expression “the Future we want”. To achieve this feat, He reported that his administration has embarked on some measures to enhance the implementation of the SGDs with the hope of delivering also, the nation’s sustainable plans. To this end, his administration’s priority will focus among others, on the following:
- Vulnerable groups: women, children, old persons and the unemployed
- Expansion of national social register to include one million more Nigerians.
- Housing schemes for over 22 million households.
- Palliative support.
- Stimulus packages to boost manufacturing and production, etc.
To achieve the above listed agenda, certain measures have been put in place and massive disbursement of fund is on-going to help cushion the effects of the pandemic. We can attest to these facts because some are privileged to be informed. But what about the millions of Nigerians who are left in the dark? Other questions that may stagger one’s imagination are; How many Nigerians will truly benefit from such government initiatives? How many are informed about such measures? What data is used in distributing such palliatives? Who are the truly vulnerable persons in the country? Is the priority of the government of a national interest or merely for a particular ethnic group? How transparent is the process for responding to the needs of the vulnerable? What happens to those in the private sector who lost their jobs during the pandemic? Who gets the information about government’s initiatives and measures? Often time, people only hear of government’s initiatives when the time-lag is over. It is always a matter of first come first served thus, information is often hoarded by a few.
We cannot deny the fact that the Muhammadu Buhari led government is faced with a lot of challenges which she has tried to confront while running the business of governance. We give credit to her dynamic responses to problems. However, to succeed in implementing the SDGs especially at the grassroots, those at the grassroots must be directly involved. It is wrong to presume a universal problem for all local environments and to impose a universal solution for all. Problems are environment specific and should be dealt thus. That is why we cannot undermine the important role of local community leaders as well as religious bodies in the grassroots. There should be no discrimination in palliatives distribution. Selective discrimination and bribery, which are the key factors that characterize access to government’s cushioning measures in Nigeria today, should be checked if the desired results are to be achieved.
Most initiatives of the government will positively touch the lives of most Nigerians if corruption, ethnicity, religious bigotry and discrimination are laid aside. Nigeria as a nation is bigger than any single ethnic group. Poverty is a general problem in Nigeria and should be treated equally. Although the government has pledged to fight and reduce corruption to the barest minimum, it is still the main cancer destroying the good-life of the nation and rendering almost useless the good initiatives of the administration.
The covid-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow on every nation and has plunged everyone into a re-start mode. President Muhammadu Buhari should evaluate the extent to which his administration’s response measures and initiatives have directly touched the lives of the average Nigerian and not rely on the doctored reports he gets from actors who have no touch with the grassroots. No nation can truly grow when quality education and health care services are far from being affordable and accessible at the grassroots. The SDGs, if properly implemented can change the narrative.
Kenneth Ugochukwu, cmf, Nigeria
12. Panama – President’s Address
23 Sep 2020 – Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, President of the Republic of Panama
“COVID-19 has highlighted the deep inequalities that already exist. While the pandemic affects us all, it does not affect us all equally. We have to focus the collective attention on poverty and inequality. If before some chose to ignore them, now it is impossible not to recognize them in their harsh reality.
These and other words transmitted last September 23, 2020 by our President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, to the United Nations at the 74th General Assembly, would resonate with great force and would be an inspiration for our people if we saw that what was said outside was lived in the everyday life of the National Government, which has left us with so many disappointments and frustrations in the political handling of the pandemic. A discourse that the majority of the people do not resonate or care about: words that remain unnoticed due to lack of credibility. Although, certainly a very good discourse, especially in highlighting the national task as a “solidarity hub” and a bridge open to the world of our small isthmus, even in terms of recognizing the errors of the civil authorities during the pandemic, a successful and necessary global call to continue growing as humanity from this experience of world health crisis. We hope that the President of Panama was the first to do so, but it will almost certainly be just a nice phrase from a nice speech.
New Generation, Panama
13. Paraguay – President’s Address
23 Sep 2020 – Mario Abdo Benitez, President of the Republic of Paraguay
From Mario Abdo’s speech at the UN, in general terms, the speech sounds good. But for someone who is here, Mario Abdo’s government is of a capitalist, conservative line. With Stronist roots, although he says that he no longer has anything to do with Alfredo Stroessner.
He doesn’t really have much of a political career, he appears and is best known when he occupies a seat in Congress as a senator for the red party. From there, for the political campaign of the last elections (2018), he appeared in the red interns as an alternative to the candidate of the then president of the Republic Horacio Cartes, a very deteriorated figure in the citizenry, and in the same red environment trying to violate the national constitution to occupy an active seat as a senator, after fulfilling his mandate as president of the republic.
Today, what he sold as an alternative to Horacio Cartes and his government, came to nothing, little in fact, he has governed little in this sense, being more a facade to maintain order and institutionality but the truth is that big business, negotiated in public institutions to benefit a few, who get rich at the expense of that, continues to make its own, and even in the midst of a pandemic. And, on more than one occasion, Horacio Cartes has made him feel that he has more power than the President himself.
The economic and social situation of Paraguay was in a tailspin. The economic plans only to benefit those who have more economic power and to maintain the status quo, not to modify anything that results in real development for a large sector of the poorest population.
Clear and concrete plans that aim at a real development of the agricultural sector, for example, small and medium producers, have practically not existed in this two years of government, the economic and social situation is also going the same way.
Therefore, when it mentions the pandemic it is not what has been generating a decline in the economy and in the social sphere, the evils in this aspect have already been worsening, and this government has not so far given any signs of wanting to improve this aspect that we as a people desire, a greater impulse in the production and commercialization of small and medium producers for example.
The measures taken for social assistance before the pandemic and during the pandemic, are not to get out of poverty but to sink even deeper into poverty, and to try to satisfy a population that receives crumbs. This is not the way to develop a village, generating more poverty.
Although this has been the breeding ground for policies, encouraged by the “politicians” to govern always from clientelism, perks, and corruption in the state.
In Paraguay, we need governments with clear policies that help to get out of poverty, generating sources of work and production by looking at the population, not at those who have more. Use the resources that are available and have at hand, both labor and what is produced in the country.
When he mentions the EPP (Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo), a FARC-type armed group from Colombia, which carries out kidnapping and extortion, with a political ideology. This reality we all look with much sadness and do not accept the way to proceed, seeking a change by the forces, by the weapons, with the deaths of people. From time to time, news from around the world comes out, such as the confrontation between government forces and this armed group where two girls were killed, who “apparently were part of this armed group, and were there at the time of the confrontation,” which caused a commotion. In the speech, he appears with firm words, that he is not going to back down and so on, before this armed group. But what has not been analyzed so far, and is not touched upon in order to truly find a solution to this problem, is that this group emerged in one of the poorest areas of the country, the most abandoned of all, but which also coexists with large ranchers and cattle ranchers in the area. The only way out so far, not only in this government, is to strengthen the government forces, police and military, to provide “security in the area”, but it has taken 7 years, without a real solution.
A good word that he uses in the end, that we cannot come out of the pandemic the same, we come out better or worse. I hope we come out better, that’s the wish. But in this government, before the pandemic as
I have already pointed out, it has not given signs that it will seek a real development of the population, of the poorest, most vulnerable, peasant families, indigenous communities, fight against the impoverishment of the population. During the pandemic this situation has become more acute, with no sign of change, but rather of maintaining a clear economy, so that it does not affect those who have more. And, after the pandemic, what is coming is nothing more than a continuation of the same or worse.
When you mention the health system, which has affected even the most developed countries, the truth is that without a pandemic, our health system would already be water, without basic supplies in hospitals, let alone beds for intensive or more specialized care. Without a pandemic, there would be no more room. In reality, in this aspect it is not the pandemic that changes many things, in any case it became one more problem, and as always it is the people, and the poorest who end up paying.
In Paraguay there is an urgent need for structural, political, social, economic and educational changes. We need good governments that aim in this direction. Not a façade to leave everything the same, even with more impoverishment of the most vulnerable population.
A reform of the state is needed, but not simply as a façade, but profoundly to improve the living conditions of the poorest.
Luis Villasanti cmf, Yhu, Paraguay
14. Philippines – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines
To summarize my reactions, there are two important issues which supposed to be commending but by deeper scrutiny, it becomes controversial issues. In fact, the President is consistent in forwarding his personal opinions but not the real sentiments of the Filipino people.
On the West Philippine Sea
On the issue of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) which China has insistently claimed as South China Sea using their own controversial designed 9-Dash Line Map contrary to historical, legal claims and international policies, the President has not made clear his position.
The 2016 Arbitral Award won by the Philippines over China in the maritime dispute over the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon. In fact, Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio who led the Philippine team in challenging China’s claim over almost all of the SCS/WPS suggested that the government should work hard to gather international support to enforce the award and to resume the ASEAN negotiations with China on the Code of Conduct (COC) aimed at managing the SCS/WPS maritime dispute.
The Philippines must persistently include in the COC which China has continually preventing in order to reverse. Deeper reasons for the wavering position of the President must be scrutinized to know to what extent China has the control to the economic policies of the Philippines through this pro-China administration. Let it be known that the arbitral ruling is in accordance with international law and the UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas]. Secretary del Rosario is right to insist on rallying other countries to support the Philippine advantage point of the award.
Five Catholic prelates have expressed support in the initial position of the President to speech but it has to be translated into action. Otherwise, Bishop Pabillo remarked that it might be another joke.
On Human Rights
On the issue of the Human Rights attributed to state security forces which Duterte claimed to have that open dialogue and constructive engagement, he avoided acknowledging any human rights violations by his administration. He even defended and signed into law the recently enacted 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act despite of more than 40 petitions against the law including one of the Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. In time of remembering the dark history in Philippine history, the 1972 declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, Duterte allowed burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery). The Anti – Terrorism Act, despite of the strong opposition both from the civil societies and the church, violates the people’s civil and political rights.
He claimed that the Philippines continue to protect the human rights of its people insisting on the context of the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism. He even charged groups of using human rights issues with ill-intentioned to destroy the government. He attacked human rights advocacy groups as “enemies of the state,” that claimed lives of human rights defenders and also church leaders. The Commission on Human Rights Commission is a constitutional body that needs respect and recognition but does not deserve an attack from the government itself. Through his “red-tagging policies” he uses the state instrumentalities to attack their own citizens. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, was not exempted to the attack and shaming. He has arbitrarily barred such visits since 2017.
The Duterte makes the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippines National Policies as the backbone of his administration even to make bold but untruthful statements as evidenced recently in the fake Facebook accounts and pages. It’s a total lies when the AFP spokesman Maj General Edgardo Arevalo claimed that the AFP has no record of human rights violations and also of PNP Chief Lt Gen. Camilo assertion that recently there have been no extra judicial killings (EJK’s). The data of the Human Rights Commission and other civil societies will show the real situation.
In fact, the Philippines recorded the highest cases of COVID 19 infections in Southeast Asia with insistence of using the militarized approached to health pandemic. The Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVOD 19 is mainly composed of the former military top brass such as former Chiefs of the AFP.
This shows how the recent government plays with pre-recorded speech in the UN General Assembly.
15. Spain – Prime Minister’s Address
25 Sep 2020 – Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, President of the Government of Spain
The Spanish Prime Minister’s speech was like an echo of what we are experiencing in Spain: a new call for unity, but one that, this time, he applied to the international community.
I found it curious the game he played, alluding to what the world is currently experiencing, with another virus that is travelling around the world, that of disappointment, boredom, discredit, even indifference, a virus that the rulers themselves have been inoculating. But, above all, I found it subtle how he was able to link it to what he called the “return of exclusionary nationalism”, which was thought to be finished, xenophobia, autarkic fantasies, shameless authoritarianism and the rise of leaderships based on demagogy, lies, fostering hatred and confrontation.
He has tried to become the Quixote of a scenario that he is unable to carry out in the reality of his own country: “We must believe in unity. Unity makes it possible to progress together. Unity conjures up conflict. Unity saves lives. Unity and only unity can save the planet…”.
In addition to the great challenges facing the world, at one point in his speech he asked how one can advocate for an open and interconnected world if one demonizes immigration or how one can advance in the defense of human rights if one turns one’s back on initiatives created for this purpose. And, certainly, it was not credible when in Spain we have violated fundamental rights of immigrants, we have made hot returns, we have been warned by the UN, the report of the UN rapporteur was devastating, we still have CIE that are an anomaly of our rule of law, …
Jose Antonio Benitez, CMF
16. Sri Lanka – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
According to political science, his address is a well detailed description of the status quo of the nation. He seemed patriotic by the way of presentation (Ayubowan) , something which every president would do. However, in so doing, I realized a number of aspects of which I would like to highlight only a few. First, he seemed to credit the success of the nation and only attributed it to the effort of the government leaving aside the contributions of the other stakeholders in the nation. This disqualifies in some manner his rapport with the would be intending NGOs since their role in the national struggle is not upheld in such a momentous address. Secondly, while talking of various infrastructural developed, he exaggerated the education sector by giving the system full credit rural and urban to be all alike. It’s on record that rural areas are far from the reach of the governmental facilities, he ought not to have mentioned it. Conclusively. Another thing, he has never spoken about the national problem such as minority and their political rights. Sri Lanka is a democratic country but how far the intercultural aspects characterized by religions, languages, races etc are promoted to achieve peace in this country? I feel his secretary did his best but not according to the true conscience because most of the facts were exaggerated. He ought to have been truthful because most of the countries in the UN face similar situations of which Sri Lanka is not exceptional as he portrayed it. UN has no credit this time too for this way of preplanned speeches by world leaders, nevertheless its unavoidable due to Covid-19.
Everest Dias CMF, Kandy, Sri Lanka
17. South Korea – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea
My Comment on president of Republic do Korea´s Address on UN General Assembly
President Moon Jae-In, is a man of good faith and integrity addressed main current issues of the humanity. In order to overcome them, he called for solidarity and co-operation, especially UN inclusive International Co-operation, based on universal values in promoting peace, security and sustainable growths and developments.
COVID-19 Issue: Rep. Of Korea´s effort for prevention and control the spread of the infectious disease is highly appreciated. President´s willingness to share the experiences and resources with others is paise-worthy. And his call for inclusive international co-operation in developing and distributing affordable vaccine and medicine for all is the voice of the por people and countries.
Climate Change-Issue: Rep. Of Korea takes many initiatives for clean air, clean energy for all by practicing Paris Agreement.
Peace and Reconciliations of Korea Peninsula:
In this matter. President calls for inclusive international co-operation, dialogue and engagement. His call for the complete end of Korean War, with peace economy and comprehensive security is a remarkable step of the peace process. Out of my 29 years’ experience in Korea, my opinion is that the complete ending of the war an urgent call for the UN and International Community has to involve and take action. Unless and until, the complete end of the war, attaining the lasting peace and prosperity will be difficult.
Jose Peedika cmf, South Korea
18. Uruguay – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Luis Lacalle Pou, President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay
First of all, we talked about a speech designed and appropriate to be presented to the world, through which he reiterated the national commitment to the human rights agenda, which includes the protection and respect for the rights of children and women and the effective implementation of United Nations defense mechanisms. On this point, she informed that Uruguay has promoted the development of specific policies to respond to women victims of domestic violence. He emphasized the attention that migrants and internally displaced persons deserve due to the pandemic and that Uruguay maintains an open policy as a recipient of voluntary migration. He also highlighted the commitment to care for the environment, supporting the Paris Agreement at the international level and the creation of a Ministry of the Environment at the domestic level.
After listening to his words, a parallelism between the discourse and what is happening internally is imposed.
Six months before the new government takes office and after 15 years of leftist governments, the discourse does not agree with the implementation in the country of a new economic model that prioritizes savings over the maintenance of public policies based on the rights of citizens. In this sense, we can see a dismantling of the rights and care policies that the previous government had been implementing. Although it recognizes a solid health system that has cushioned the health emergency caused by COVID-19, justifying itself in this one, it implements economic policies of adjustment on the working class, it is delaying, at the request of the business sector, the convening of the Wage Councils.
In the area of crimes against humanity, giving priority to the interests of sustaining the political coalition through which he came into government, the national party, to which the elected president belongs, did not approve the request of the justice system to take away the privileges of Senator Manini, former commander of the Army, so that he could appear before the courts, Thus endorsing the impunity and complicity with those responsible for crimes against humanity during the military dictatorship, while at the same time it tends to divide Uruguayan society, accusing the justice system of fomenting hatred in the face of what they understand were facts that happened more than 40 years ago, which is the result of a resolution, through which they seek to distract the attention of the citizenry in order not to appear before the justice system. It attempts to discredit the latter and accuse the families of disappeared detainees of fomenting hatred, when what is sought is to maintain silence, hide the truth and impunity.
In fact, not voting for the desafuero already mentioned will allow the government to have the votes it needs to approve the Budget Law, in which the economy will be above the needs of public policies. By way of example, it is planned to reduce the budget for education, especially for tertiary education, as well as for scientific research, not to assign a budget for the implementation of the new law on gender-based violence, which was already a duty of the previous government; it modified the organs of control and participation of civil society.
The recent approval of the law of urgent consideration (LUC), contains a set of norms that some contravene international treaties ratified by the country.
SOMI Uruguay Team
19. USA – President’s Address
22 Sep 2020 – Donald Trump, President of the United States of America
“Make America Great Again” has been Donald Trump’s tagline for the past four years. MAGA has tapped into people’s fears of the perceived direction that the USA and the world is going. These fears are seen in increasing political, economic, cultural and racial polarizations: we experience the opposite of peace. Domestically, the rise of nationalism has been one of the consequences. At its extreme, white supremacist groups have flourished and been legitimized. Abuse of power against people of color has further diminished race relations and has led to mass protests and some violence. Another MAGA by-product has been a weakening of the free press. Press reports that question Trump’s actions get dismissed as “Fake News”. There has been a loss of our ability to know what news true and what sources spew propaganda is. The internet has helped this confusion flourish. While fabrications have always been part of politics, Trump has brought lying to a level that the USA has never seen in a president. This is apparent in his United Nations 75th anniversary speech. Another consistent theme under the Trump administration is the weakening of regulatory departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Disease Control. Certainly, the COVID pandemic has spread in great part because the lack of a national strategy to contain it and the marginalization of the CDC.
The Trumpian direction of the “America First” attitude in foreign policy has severely strained our international standing. Trump’s initiatives such as the Muslim ban; leaving the Paris Accord; withholding funding to the WHO; coddling right wing leaders such as Putin, Kim Jong-un and Rodrigo Duterte are examples. Scapegoating has become the norm under the Trump administration in such incendiary labels as The China Virus and Socialism. The symbol of the border wall with Mexico communicates an anti-migrant and refugee sentiment.
The one the thing that Trump did get right in this speech was that the USA is still a military power in the world. But a misuse of this power will not bring peace but continued instability in our world that is more connected today than ever.
In evaluating the words of Trump, three questions can help us discern: Who benefits? Where does the money flow? What kind of people and world are we becoming?
Art Gramage CMF, USA-Canada Province
20. Holy Father Pope Francis Address
25 Sep 2020 – His Holiness Pope Francis of the Holy See
I listened with real pleasure to the Pope’s video address to the UN General Assembly on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. A simple, serene, friendly speech… and yet strong, radical even, without fear of the world powers which, called by their own name, are not going to like it. I believe that he has known how to be very well in his place, with his multiple role: shepherd, illuminator, denouncer, and also announcer of good news for Humanity.
He has clearly evoked the urgencies of the current pandemic, has denounced that even in this situation the world structure continues to produce injustice, and has cited by name once again the great evils that Humanity drags along… But he has also insisted on making a positive interpretation: “the current crisis is an opportunity”… even to realize great utopian ambitions that have so far always been postponed: it is a “time for renewing the international financial architecture”, he has even said.
In 26 minutes you cannot touch on many more issues than you have (such as, for example, having reminded the Assembly of the need to reform the UN’s own architecture, after these first 75 years), but for me, on this occasion, what has been said is enough.
José María VIGIL, CMF
Reaction to the intervention of Pope Francis
It is increasingly evident that when Pope Francis speaks, the world listens. And in his last address to the General Assembly, he called for more action and fewer words. The world is calling for concrete steps and immediate action. Francis has asked to renounce the construction of an all-powerful elite and has even suggested the renewal of the Security Council.
His intervention has once again brought out his groundbreaking message on both the economic and environmental fronts, urging a determined fight against climate change and calling for an end to economic inequalities. However, his speech did not only have this social, economic and moral dimension but also went deeply into the concrete and practical issues of today’s complex political, strategic and warlike world. He expressed his support for the agreement to curb the military nuclear programme in Iran, also focused on the situation in the Middle East, North Africa and other African countries and called for an examination of conscience in the face of living conflicts, specifically Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Southern Sudan and the Great Lakes region. Francis was also the pacifist Pope who, true to his position, called for a halt to the perverse logic that links security to the possession of weapons. He therefore once again stressed the need to stem the proliferation of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, and also turned his attention to the war on drugs, which he defined as a war that has been assumed and poorly fought.
Jose Antonio Benitez, CMF