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    Collective responsibility to end suffering

    Izah Azahari

    The spotlight was yesterday turned on the complex and interlinked crisis the world is currently facing, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a long shadow of socioeconomic repercussions.

    President of the 76th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Abdulla Shahid discussed the subject in a public lecture titled ‘Multilateralism and the role of the regional organisations’ at the International Convention Centre yesterday.

    Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Dr Mansurah Izzul Bolkiah was among the attendees.

    Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud; Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah; Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof; and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin also attended.

    Abdulla Shahid highlighted the ongoing aggression in Ukraine, which continues to take a tragic humanitarian toll and send shockwaves to the global economy. Attention was also turned to Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Ethiopia, Mali, Myanmar and Afghanistan, where conflicts have disrupted and claimed countless lives.

    “These conflicts proliferate, so too does the persistent threat of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

    As these threats become increasingly evident in the online spheres, the climate crisis is also proving to be ever present as we grapple with the challenges. To imagine it as an abstract threat is to ignore what is happening on our planet right now, he said.

    Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Dr Mansurah Izzul Bolkiah at the talk. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
    Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud; Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah and Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof with President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid

    The president added, “The core outcome of all this is that people are suffering and our world, our collective societies, are being challenged.”

    Abdulla Shahid believes the society has a responsibility to do far more to address the suffering and to protect the vulnerable.

    “Our ability to address the issues before us will test not only our resolve and imagination, but also the efficiency and relevance of our global institutions,” he said.

    Inaction or a delay on any of these issues will only fuel a loss of trust in multilateralism and institutions such as the UN to resolve issues, mediate solutions and promote peace and development, Abdulla Shahid said.

    “Crises can often bring about the best in humanity. Multilateralism and diplomacy remain powerful tools,” he said, adding that, “the success of regional organisations is a powerful counterargument to misgivings about the ability of countries to work together to find solutions to shared challenges,” he added.

    He believes that not only do these organisations provide a model for multilateralism that can be replicated on a wider global scale, but they also play a pivotal role in upholding the current global multilateral architecture.

    For over 50 years, ASEAN has been proof of this. In that time, it has become a powerful driver for stability, regional cooperation, and economic integration among its 10 member states, he said.

    Touching on the ASEAN-UN Summit and ASEAN-UN Ministerial Meeting since 2010, Abdulla Shahid said the revitalised ASEAN-UN Plan of Action 2021-2025 will guide both organisations in further strengthening partnerships in the coming years. He also noted that inspiring young people in support of multilateralism is one of the strongest tools in the toolbox, further stating that he believes in bringing people together, whether it be young people, academia or local communities.

    Abdulla Shahid called upon young peers to become part of the solution to ending conflicts, resolving climate crisis, and upholding the multilateralism that is so dearly needed to maintain peace and well-being.

    The public lecture concluded with a question-and-answer session with attendees, along with closing remarks from the moderator, Deputy Permanent Secretary (International Organisations) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Haji Mohd Yusra bin Haji Mohd Salleh.

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