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76th UN General Assembly opens in New York

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By Gistflash News

Sept 15, 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday said the COVID-19 pandemic had proved to be the most challenging period the world had seen, as the 75th session of the General Assembly closed to usher in the 76th session, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Passing on the gavel to the new Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives, Guterres saluted his predecessor, Volkan Bozkir at the closing of the 75th session of General Assembly.

“Throughout this difficult and historic moment, we have all been fortunate to rely on the leadership of His Excellency, President Volkan Bozkir”.

The UN chief credited the outgoing Turkish diplomat and politician for prioritising a sustainable recovery, rooted in the 2030 Agenda, and supporting countries and communities as they rebuilt systems shattered by the pandemic.

Guterres said that under Bozkir’s leadership, the Assembly had sought to “strengthen health systems, deliver COVID-19 testing, treatment and equipment, and contribute to the most ambitious vaccination campaign in history”.

Moreover, he drove the General Assembly’s vital work in the areas of peace and security, disarmament, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development.

According to him, the outgoing president had also overseen the adoption of major resolutions on key issues, from peace-building to counterterrorism and preventing crimes against humanity, addressing climate change and ending human trafficking.

“In short, under President Bozkir’s stewardship, this Assembly has proven, time and again, the value of multilateralism and a rules-based international system,’’ the secretary-general said.

In a speech before closing the 75th Assembly’s final meeting, outgoing President Bozkir noted that his tenure took place amidst a “tumultuous, historic, transformative, unequal, challenging and ground-breaking year.

“From the earliest moments of my Presidency, we knew that COVID-19 would dominate our agenda. However, I can now say that it has reinforced our belief in a more effective and more responsive UN,” he said.

Before stepping down, Bozkir made a series of recommendations that ranged from strengthening the Assembly to realigning “a serious mismatch in the way this organisation treats its employees and the world’s highest political office.

He also suggested a shift from focusing on procedures “at the cost of substance” to a “more streamlined, priority driven agenda” and to prioritise the UN as a single entity of respect, integrity and progress.

Before bringing down the gavel for the last time, he called for a moment of silent prayer or meditation.

Newly sworn in General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives, then opened the new 76th session, noting that his country’s flag is “flying at the highest peak today”.

He spoke of near-universal “collective anxiety” and hopelessness, not all of which is pandemic-related, saying: “the narrative must change”, and that the General Assembly “must play a part in this”.

This moment in history calls for hope above all, he said, to demonstrate to the global population that “we are aware of their plight, are listening and are willing to work together to overcome problems.

And that we can find the courage to “push forward”, “vaccinate the world” and spur a greener, more inclusive, pandemic recovery.

This spirit of partnership, of uniting under a common cause, is “the beating heart of our work here at the United Nations”, Guterres told the opening session of the 76th General Assembly.

Congratulating Shahid on his election, the UN chief outlined his longstanding diplomatic experience and noted that “coming from the Maldives, he brings a fresh perspective on the unique experience of small island States”.

“Mr President, I look forward to close collaboration as we work to serve and support countries during this extraordinary moment in time, and live up to the great promise and potential of the multilateral system and the United Nations”, he said, promising the UN family’s “full support and partnership”.

Guterres also stressed the need to re-commit to the UN values of human rights, supporting the most vulnerable, and peace, through dialogue and solidarity.

“Over the next year, every day, let us keep this better world in view. Let us live and breathe our values in this Assembly and across our work”, he said, telling the new president: “The entire Secretariat is at your disposal”.

NAN

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UNGA: DRC president seeks actualisation of promises on global warming to Africa

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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

The President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has urged UN  Member States to “materialise all the promises made to Africa in compensation for the sacrifices agreed to protect humanity against global warming.”

Tshilombo made the appeal at the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Debate of the 76th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.

“There are less than six weeks left before COP26 and nine years before 2030.

“For Africa, the year 2030 will be marked by a drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to 15 per cent reduction in agricultural yields and a sharp increase in the risk of coastal flooding and in island countries,” the president said.

He noted that in order to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, the African continent will need $30 billion dollars a year to adapt.

This amount should increase to around $50 billion dollars by 2040.

“Africa does not need charity,” but constructive win-win partnerships to make better use of its collective national wealth and improve the living conditions of its people, he stressed.

Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said Africa had not folded its arms and does not intend to capitulate to the virus, but stressed all the difficulties the countries are facing.

He welcomed initiatives related to financing of the economies, in particular those of the G20 on the suspension of debt service and the common framework for debt restructuring, pointing at the allocation of $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

For him, the $33 billion dollars allocated to Africa “are insufficient in view of the immensity of its economic stimulus needs.” The African Union supports the objective of the Paris Summit, $100 billion dollars in SDR for the continent.

Regarding the withdrawal of the UN Mission (MONUSCO) in his country, he agreed to the timeline approved by the UN Security Council, with a transition period that expires in 2024.

He asked for the process to be “gradual, responsible and orderly”, saying that he expects “the United Nations and the Security Council to give all the necessary means to MONUSCO and its Rapid Intervention Brigade so that they fulfil their mandates.”

“This is to ensure that the troops deployed have the required capabilities and means, including the necessary training to meet the requirements of the reality on the ground and the asymmetric warfare currently waged by armed groups and Islamist terrorists,” Tshilombo said.

On the elections scheduled for 2023, he said, he hoped to contribute to “the organisation of a free, transparent, inclusive and credible” vote.

Speaking on peace and security, the President said: “the scourge of insecurity caused by the cohorts of terrorists, armed groups, mercenaries and criminals of all stripes is undermining the institutional stability of young democracies and destroying the efforts of many African leaders to develop their countries.”

He argued that the fight against DAESH was won in the Middle East, but in Africa “AQIM and other groups affiliated with DAESH are gaining more ground every day”, in places like Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Burkina Faso.

He said that “Islamist” fundamentalism had reached the east of his country, which is “paying a heavy price in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.”

“Africa refuses to serve as a base for international terrorism”, he added.

Recently, political crises had erupted in a few Member States, but Tshilombo argued that “these crises cannot obscure the enormous progress made by the majority of African countries in terms of democracy and good governance.

“This is how the Congolese people continue their noble and exhilarating struggle against dictatorship, autocracy and the values ​​that still structure our actions,” he said.

In June, the DRC entered into a programme with the IMF and is currently benefitting from the assistance of the World Bank to carry out major social projects and basic infrastructure.

Tshilombo spoke of “courageous reforms” that should accelerate economic growth to over five per cent a year.

He concluded his speech by addressing the “endless problematic reform of the UN and of the representation of Africa on its Security Council.

“It is a question of the effectiveness of the United Nations and of justice to a continent, an entire section of humanity whose role continues to increase every day,” he said.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Tshilombo as saying that his country supported the proposal that adds two additional non-permanent members for Africa and two seats as permanent members, with the same rights, including veto.

NAN

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India’s Zee Entertainment announces merger with Sony Picture Networks

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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Indian Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, on Wednesday announced its merger with Sony Picture Networks India, making it one of the largest entertainment networks in the country.

The board made the announcement in a statement attached to a notice on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Sony and Zee together run about 75 television channels and digital media platforms in India, some of which are beamed globally.

Sony Picture Networks India is a subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corporation.

Zee said Sony will invest 1.57 billion dollars in the merged entity and will be the majority stakeholder with a 52.93 per cent stake.

Zee Managing Director, Punit Goenka would retain the position in the merged entity, and it would hold 47.07 per cent stake.

The statement said the two companies will combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries.

It added that Zee’s expertise developed over three decades and Sony’s success in the entertainment, gaming and sports genres would give significant value to the merged entity.

The two firms plan to conduct due diligence and obtain the required regulatory approvals for the merger over the next three months.

The new entity is expected to be publicly listed in India.

dpa/NAN

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UN Chief to appoint special envoy for future generations, create UN Youth Office

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By Gistflash News

Sept 21, 2021

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that he would appoint a special envoy for future generations and set up UN Youth Office.

Guterres said that the young people across the world needed more than support.

“We expect 10.9 billion people to be born by century’s end. We need their talents, ideas and energies, young people need more than support.

“They need a seat at the table. I will appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations and create the United Nations Youth Office,’’ Guterres said.

He disclosed this during his address at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in the united States on Tuesday.

Sputnik/NAN

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