SDG16+ Highlights: World’s First Virtual UN General Debate


Leaders unite for greater solidarity and action to build a more peaceful, just and inclusive world

General debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

This year marked the first of many steps: The first world’s first virtual General Debate; 75 years of the United Nations; and ten years remaining to achieve the Global Goals.

World leaders addressed the historic moment of both challenge and change. COVID-19 and growing global health crisis. Multilateralism and the need for global solidarity. Rising gender-based violence, spiraling economic downturn, and unemployment. And the importance of building peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Read how Pathfinder countries are stepping up efforts and ambition for a Decade of Action and Recovery for peace, justice and inclusion:


  • Exploring how a digital revolution can be source of economic opportunity for our overwhelmingly young population, as well as a way to strengthen our systems of governance and rule of law.
  • Violence and warfare has evolved, particularly affecting women and children. Climate change has increased the magnitude of violence and suffering. Afghanistan are focusing on human capital and human security to generate more equal opportunities and societal stability for its people.
H.E. Mr. Alberto Fernández, president of Argentina


  • The newly created Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity has strengthened national efforts to prevent and reduce violence against women, integrated a gender approach in social and labor protection measures, and promoted joint responsibility and a fairer distribution of care tasks. Argentina has been classified in the UN ranking as the country that implemented the most gender-sensitive measures during the pandemic.


  • Brazil has granted COVID-19 relief to approximately 65 million people, the largest assistance program for the poorest in Brazil. More than 100 billion dollars has been allocated to cover health expenses and support small businesses. More than 200,000 indigenous families were assisted in COVID-19 prevention efforts.
  • Brazil is committed to the basic principles of the UN Charter: peace and international security, cooperation among nations, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Cabo Verde

  • Human capital development, health security and public health, and digital transformation are drivers of the SDGs for Cabo Verde.
  • A differentiated approach must be given towards to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), taking into account their great vulnerabilities to external economic and environmental shocks. Global efforts should focus on the evidence that reforms are helping nations to make progress in achieving the SDGs.


  • The world is in crisis. The crisis of COVID-19 has shown we do not go far enough to eliminate systemic injustice, whether it is about racism towards Blacks or Aboriginals, homophobia or sexism.
  • There’s so much more still to be done. Children all over the world wear masks to go to school or don’t go to school at all. Old people are dying. Protesters are killed… People who think only of themselves continue to exacerbate inequalities and conflicts. Now is the time for us as the United Nations to come together and do what we were created: to ensure peace and security.

Central African Republic

  • Since the onset of this health crisis, the Central African Republic, like other countries in the world, has not been spared, and itseconomic growth is expected to fall by -0.8% or -1.2%. The global community must invest more in common solutions to eradicate this health crisis.
  • The Central African Republic is committed to preserving and consolidating the gains, improving our weaknesses and pursuing progress in the search for peace and economic recovery.


  • We have lived the ravages of the violence and poverty and that is why we are determined to build a sustainable future based on equity. The situation caused by COVID-19 has also become a threat to the breakdown of social inequalities.
  • Colombia has designed a policy of Peace with Legality based on social stabilization and consolidation institutionalization of the territories historically hardest hit by the violence and poverty. The Peace with Legality policy is benefiting more than 6 millions of compatriots in their territories, with an investment that exceeds 780 million dollars, supporting more than 13,500 ex-combatants and, in addition, changing their lives.

Costa Rica

H.E. Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica
  • The 2030 Agenda provide a model to overcome the crisis and prepare us to face future ones. The most just, equitable and sustainable are more resilient to the inequalities that this terrible pandemic has revealed and extended.
  • If COVID-19 is an early warning to humanity, the climate crisis and inequality are the major threats to human security for this and the next generation. We must compete and defeat simplistic, hateful and/or polarizing discourses, that in their simplicity and frivolity they stop the advance that action and the human spirit require.

Czech Republic

  • We are in favor of an open discussion on a revision of the multilateral health architecture. This revision needs to be based on a fair and objective evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.
  • We are witnessing a proliferation of initiatives regarding access to the COVID-19 vaccine. We call for a coordinating role of the UN to ensure that these initiatives are complementary, not clashing with one another


  • We need to invest more in conflict prevention. We strongly support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. To redouble our efforts to prevent and resolve armed conflicts and to build more peaceful societies. And we need to bridge our humanitarian, development and peace efforts.
H.E. Ms. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark
  • Denmark continues to work within the framework of international law and conventions regarding migration and refugees. Countries along the routes of migration need more assistance to manage irregular migration and countries of origin need more help to create real alternatives.

Dominican Republic

  • The future does not wait, and our students cannot miss a minute of their learning. Our young people are one of our top priorities.
  • The Dominican Republic will spare no effort with the 2030 Agenda, focusing on its National Development Strategy that requires the collaboration of all civil society and private sector.


  • Ethiopia remains committed to peace, stability and development, and shifting the status quo in favor of social justice.
  • We support collective efforts to take up the most important challenge of our time — creating peaceful equitable and sustainable societies in a stable global order. Ethiopia remains committed to the ideals of the UN.


  • Government of Georgia seeks to achieve peace through dialogue and resolve the conflict peacefully.
  • Multilateralism is being called into question but it is needed to respond to collective global threats. The UN needs to generate trust, demonstrate effective leadership, and promote values of tolerance and solidarity.


  • Germany has set aside more than three billion euro this year for global crisis management — with a particular focus on the UN, WHO, IMF, and the World Bank.
H.E. Mr. Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany
  • The UN was born 75 years ago. Today, in the midst of the pandemic, it is our generation that must renew the legacy of the UN to build more solidarity, more cooperation, and more justice. Germany is prepared to do just this.


  • For as long as the virus exists, whatever medical solutions that might be found should be made available for all in aid of our common humanity.
  • In this moment of global crisis, now is the ideal time to reenergize and deepen international cooperation
H.E. Mr. Pedro Brolo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala


  • Migrants today represent a significant part of the population that continues to suffer from abuse and unjustified discrimination due to their origin. We are promoting an agreement with UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF to create a viable platform for dialogue and allow for better care of the returned migrants.
  • We continue to witness how hatred, racism, discrimination, and radicalization claim innocent lives. Guatemala, as a nation with a peaceful vocation, will always encourage political dialogue to avoid any escalation of violence and seek a peaceful solution.


  • At a time when we ought to unite and work together to tackle the pandemic, what we see, instead, is one of deep division and growing rivalries. We must unite and always promote a win-win approach in building relations among state that is mutually beneficial.
  • Indonesia will continuously contribute to world peace as mandated by our constitution. On its 53rd anniversary on 8th of August 2020, Indonesia along with other ASEAN member countries, reaffirmed its commitment to continue maintaining peace and stability in the region.
H.E. Mr. Micheál Martin, Taoiseach of Ireland (Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland)


  • Ireland joins the Council with firm principles and clear priorities. Three principles will underpin our approach: Building Peace, Strengthening Prevention, and Ensuring Accountability. Building peace means ensuring that we promote sustainable, durable solutions to conflict.
  • In Ireland, we have had our own experience of conflict. We know that conflict resolution is a long and complex task. It is rarely smooth or linear. It takes commitment and belief. The voices of women, young people and civil society must be central. Peace processes cannot succeed unless women are fully involved.


  • The COVID-19 crisis has brought a historic moment to rethink the role of the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to become more impactful in dealing with challenges, old and new — be they pandemics, or raging conflicts. As long as injustice and lack of peace persist, anywhere in the world, the UN must not rest; we must not rest.
  • We remain deeply committed to its promise in building a more prosperous, inclusive, and peaceful world, and we see in these extraordinary times an opportunity to help fulfil that promise.
H.E. Mr. George Manneh Weah, President of Liberia


  • Learning from the Ebola Viral Epidemic, the Government and its development partners have mounted a robust National COVID Response and Post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan as a means of reducing the impact of COVID-19 and providing the basis for economic recovery.
  • In response to an unprecedented recent increase in gender-based violence, the Government convened a National Conference that involved all Sexual and Gender-based Violence stakeholder; launched a comprehensive roadmap intended to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls; declares rape as a National Emergency; appointed a Special Prosecutor for rape; set up a Sex Offenders Registry; and established a National Security Task Force on Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
  • For the first time in our country, traditional leaders have recently agreed to take ownership for ending this harmful practice. Liberia has also passed into law the Domestic Violence Act — a legal instrument that seeks to abolish all forms of violence meted out against women, children and men.
H.E. Dr. Katrin Eggenberger, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justice and Culture of the Principality of Liechtenstein


  • Even before the pandemic, the erosion of trust in institutions and the rule of law pose a major risk for peaceful societies. Lack of access to the relevant institutions, inequality in treatment and corruption fundamentally undermine such trust and must be important entry points for our collective response.
  • We must continue giving the highest priority to challenges to the rule of law and the implementation of SDG 16. The upcoming Special Session of this Assembly on corruption becomes even more relevant against the background of the pandemic. Liechtenstein has also set up the FAST initiative to help fight modern slavery and human trafficking, which massively undermines the 2030 Agenda.


  • Mexico has an extraordinary story in its struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. It is more committed to carrying out the fourth transformation of the public life of the country, without violence and in a peaceful manner.
  • The global pandemic requires that we call recommit ourselves to strengthen multilateral cooperation and institutions.


  • We must continue to support international institutions/ Because justice must be served. And because justice is a central pillar of our multilateral world order.
  • People want to live in a world where the UN truly acts as a platform and foundation where all people are equitably represented. Imagine a world more peaceful, prosperous, and resilient against the threats that have put our progress in jeopardy.
H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway


  • As one of five incoming members of the UN Security Council, Norway will build on the women, peace and security agenda and promote women’s participation in peace processes. It will give special priority to preventing and combating sexual violence in conflict.
  • Human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles are the building blocks of just, peaceful and prosperous societies. We must ensure that human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and gender equality are at the core of our response and recovery efforts. We must ensure that women and girls are protected in all response and recovery measures.
H.E. Mr. Martín Vizcarra Cornejo, President of Peru


  • Peru has been fighting corruption head-on with a set of national reforms to transform institutions that they need it. It supports the Extraordinary General Assembly of the United Nations against corruption to be held in June 2021.
  • Peru is committed to general disarmament and full of weapons of mass destruction is strong. We are convinced that the prohibition of nuclear weapons and tests remains a moral imperative for the planet and humanity.


  • Portugal has played an active role in welcoming migrants and refugees, clearly expressing its solidarity. We reaffirm our unreserved support for the Global Pact for safe, orderly and regular migration, and are one of the pilot countries for its implementation.
  • In the year which celebrates the quarter century of the IV World Conference on Women, Portugal reiterates its commitment to the promotion of women’s rights, and redoubling the attention given to gender-based violence as exacerbated by the pandemic.


  • The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us that we live on the same planet, and that multilateral cooperation is the only way to address the challenges of epidemics, climate and the environment, and dealing with the issues of poverty, war and peace.

Republic of Korea

  • Strengthening inclusiveness in international cooperation means leaving no one behind and achieving shared prosperity where everyone enjoys freedom. Domestically, it is reducing inequalities to ensure safety of one’s own and sustainable development together with neighbors.
  • Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic requires protecting and strengthening international solidarity and respect for one another. We must also recover from the pandemic in ways that ensure restoration of multilateral cooperation and international order.
H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda


  • The global movement for racial justice and equality is not a passing phenomenon. Action is required to build public trust in the equal dignity of all citizens, particularly those historically been most marginalized and who continue to suffer mistreatment disproportionately.
  • Success depends on strengthening institutions, both national and international, including the work of scientists, innovators, and creators. s. It is about the positive human values that citizens and governments invest in those institutions, and for which they must be accountable.

Sierra Leone

  • As Chair of the g7+ group of countries that brings together countries affected by conflict and fragility, Sierra Leone remains committed to fostering peaceful, just, and inclusive societies. Sierra Leone has taken to foster these goals are ramping up the fight against corruption and preparing to establish a permanent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion.
  • Following a pledge I made at the 74th Session of this august body, we have now expunged a 55-year old law that criminalises seditious libel. We are working closely with journalists, civil society, women’s groups, and other stakeholder groups to nurture and strengthen our democracy.


  • COVID 19 has been a devastating lesson and the loudest possible wake-up call in the need for global cooperation, effective partnerships and the firm commitment to multilateralism to confront it together. A unifying solution must be found to protect every human being from it.
  • Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we are still working hard to undertake inclusive national elections. We are firmly committed to promoting and instilling a strong tradition of democracy and accountable governance which serves the Somali people first and foremost.

Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka’s sustenance during this calamity was due to the series of inclusive, non-discriminatory and holistic measures taken by the Government, prioritizing the health and safety of her people. These measures include, financially supporting low income families, pensioners, differently-abled, day-income earners, farmers, and disadvantaged groups and managing the repatriation of Sri Lankans in a coordinated manner. Sri Lanka was among the first countries in South Asia to open schools to bring children back in safety, as commended by UNICEF.
  • As a Nation, we are keen to contribute to the common goal of global peace. At a time when the United Nations reaches its 75th year, it is a great opportunity to self-assess the approach and success towards maintaining international peace, security and development. The UN system needs to ensure equity, inclusivity and transparency, while being more responsive to the ever-changing global environment.
H.E. Mr. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden


  • We now have the rare opportunity to build better societies — societies that are more resilient. We have the opportunity to jointly address shared challenges: the pandemic, the climate crisis, widening inequalities, violations of international law, and threats to international peace.
  • The pandemic is placing enormous pressure on the ability of democratic institutions to function and is having serious consequences for human rights.. Sweden supports the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights.
H.E. Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation


  • We must put even more effort into preventing conflicts and finding lasting solutions to the conflicts that are ongoing. As the capital of peace, Geneva provids a space for dialogue between the parties to a conflict. In the future, Switzerland intends to further step up its capacities and expertise in mediation and facilitation in order to support those who wish to end conflicts through dialogue
  • The most urgent tasks are to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, and to step up our efforts for peace. Let us assume this responsibility. Let us strengthen the UN’s capacity to act, and ensure that the decisions we make today will be a source of pride for generations of tomorrow.

Timor Leste

  • Time and again, we are all faced with racial and sexual violence. We strongly defend gender equality and the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. Racism is unacceptable and absolutely abominable
  • Despite the cruelty, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to be increasingly aware of the importance of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Global Cooperation and partnerships, both at the regional and national levels, are crucial to build a resilient, sustainable and inclusive world


  • Tunisia is keen to actively contribute to efforts to consolidate the foundations of global peace and security. This includes preventive diplomacy, pushing the paths of political formalization of crises and conflicts, alleviating the humanitarian crisis, and supporting international efforts.
  • The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have deepened the crises of our African continent. Tunisia affirms its determination to achieve comprehensive, sustainable and solidarity development on the continent. It reaffirms its support for the initiative the African Union’s commitment to silence the guns of Africa, which requires more international support.


  • We are determined to do everything in our power to work with our friends across the UN, to heal those divisions and to heal the world
  • Each generation brings new challenges.. But we can rise to these challenges, and I pay tribute to the UN’s tireless efforts to tackle the unprecedented disruption and human impact of COVID-19. We know that when we pull together, we can overcome the toughest challenges and achieve the most amazing things.


  • Uruguay is committed to focusing on the needs of vulnerable communities, particularly affected by the pandemic. This includes migrants, internally displaced persons and women victims of domestic violence.
  • Uruguay are concerned about the proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons that fuel global insecurity, crime, and affect the peaceful coexistence within societies. The government is committed to fighting insecurity and crime. We want a peaceful future.