20 September 2021
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has today, Monday, 20 September 2021, arrived in New York, where she will be participating in the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA76).
This year’s UN General Assembly is scheduled for 20-28 September 2021 under the theme: “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations”. The theme was announced by the President of the General Assembly (PGA), Mr Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the General Debate and High-Level Meetings of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA76), will be held in a hybrid in-person and virtual format.
President Ramaphosa will deliver a pre-recorded video statement at the General Debate on 23 September 2021. During the General Debate, which will commence on 21 September 2021, heads of the delegation are expected to state the positions of their governments on topical issues that the United Nations is seized with. These issues pertain to the three pillars of the work of the UN system, namely, peace and security, human rights, and development. The General Debate will also provide member states with an opportunity to raise matters relating to priorities and concerns that are of a national, regional, and global nature.
President Ramaphosa will also deliver a pre-recorded video statement at the High-Level Meeting on the 20th anniversary of the World Conference against Racism and the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) on 22 September 2021 and Minister Pandor will participate in the round-table discussions in person.
The High-Level Meeting to commemorate the DDPA will take place under the theme: “Reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent.” South Africa and Portugal have co-facilitated and lead consultations on the political declaration and modalities of the high-level meeting. As an outcome of the High-Level Meeting, member states will adopt a political declaration aimed at mobilising political will at the national, regional, and international levels for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and its follow-up processes.
The overarching issues that are expected to be dominant and of relevance to South Africa during UNGA76 include The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic; discussions on the UN Secretary-General’s report entitled “Our Common Agenda” following the 75th anniversary of the United Nations; reform of the United Nations; peace and security matters; the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and climate change and the upcoming Conference on Climate Change (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.
Minister Pandor will also attend several high-level meetings and side events taking place on the margins of UNGA. Amongst other events, the Minister is expected to co-chair the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Article XIV Conference with her Italian counterpart on 23 September 2021 and will deliver a pre-recorded statement at the High-Level Meeting on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 28 September 2021.
The Minister is also expected to take part in bilateral meetings with counterparts, as well as with representatives of the United Nations system.
Minister Pandor stated that: “Attending UNGA76 is of priority to South Africa. We have consistently called for the strengthening of multilateralism as the only system that would allow the world to collaborate and deliver fair outcomes for all states in the wake of the pandemic. A socio-economic response is required with additional assistance to developing countries.”