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United Nations speech highlights vaccine equity, climate, peace

James Kon

COVID-19 vaccine inequity, climate change as well as the importance of upholding international peace and security, including in Palestine, were highlighted by Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof in Brunei Darussalam’s national statement titled ‘A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges’ delivered during the General Debate of the 77th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Sunday.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan in his address said, “It has been almost three years since we first heard of COVID-19 and while we are still feeling its effects, many of us are now looking towards a post-pandemic world.

“However, a key and crucial factor to achieving this would be a successful vaccination programme and by having vaccine equity. Lest we forget, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mantra says, ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe’. Unfortunately, as of June this year, only 58 out of 194 countries have achieved the 70 per cent complete vaccination target set by the WHO.”

He added, “More efforts are also needed to address the impact from the pandemic, like mental health, a condition that is often taken lightly even before the pandemic. This is important as it can result in a huge economic burden in the future.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. PHOTO: AP

In Brunei, he said, “we have come to recognise the need to include this in our post-pandemic recovery efforts. As such, we have introduced a five-year Multisectoral Mental Health Action Plan, in addition to also working on a regional basis in the East Asia Summit mechanism in promoting better mental health and well-being”.

He added, “Climate change is yet another challenge the world has been facing even prior to the pandemic and it is one which continues to be a real and existential threat today which, if left unaddressed, can lead to another global emergency.”

The minister said, “Brunei Darussalam is committed to the climate ambition and is moving towards net zero by 2050 through forest preservation as well as transition to clean energy to shape a low carbon and climate resilient future. With 72 per cent of our total land area still covered by rainforests and our greenhouse gas emissions only account for 0.017 per cent that of global total.”

As one of the regional champions for conservation, environment and forest preservation, he said, “Brunei is also playing a leading role regionally by hosting the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change. This will function as an inter-governmental centre for climate change coordination and cooperation. It will also strengthen the region’s capabilities to prevent, mitigate, and manage climate-related disasters through established mechanisms and formulation of policies. We appreciate the contributions from our partners and friends in this initiative, and continue to welcome interested parties on board.”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan said, “The UN is the foremost multilateral institution, and thus its member states have a responsibility to adhere to the founding principles of this organisation, specifically respecting the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of all members.”

He said, “The current conflict in Europe has also brought about global concern leading member states to unanimously adopt a resolution that ensures accountability of the Security Council.”

The minister also expressed his disappointment that the same attention and regard have not been given to resolving other areas of conflict, particularly Palestine.

He said, “We need to ensure the same amount of attention and consideration be given to conflicts wherever they are, particularly where territorial integrity and sovereignty have been violated.”