President Tokayev Addresses Global COVID-19 Summit as Part of UNGA 76th Assembly

NUR-SULTAN – As the United Nations headquarters hosts the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) from Sept. 21 until Sept. 27, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered a video message at the global COVID-19 virtual summit titled “Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better to Prepare for the Next” taking place at this high-level week at the UN.

President Tokayev delivers a video address. Photo credit: Akorda press service

The summit was convened by the United States and gathered heads of state and leaders from international organizations, the private sector, and non-government organizations.

In his remarks, Tokayev noted that the world is facing a global health crisis of unprecedented magnitude in recent decades. The resulting economic hardship has increased inequality and demonstrated the vulnerability of global society.

To address it, Tokayev called for expanding global access to vaccines.

“This is a matter of global ethics and solidarity since the unfair ‘vaccine access gap’ not only undermines health but deepens this gap. We applaud the multilateral effort to provide a total of more than two billion doses of vaccines and to improve our collective defense against global health threats. Contributing to global collective immunity, Kazakhstan was among the first ten countries on the planet to develop its own vaccine, QazVac,” said Tokayev. 

Commending the efforts of the U.S. leadership and President Biden’s commitment to ensuring collective action by developing partnerships within the “Building a Better World” initiative, Tokayev put forward several initiatives. 

“We should focus on capacity-building at the global level. We need to promote the core principles of the Almaty Declaration endorsed by the WHO in the area of primary health care. We need to collectively do more to prevent biological disasters and crises in the future. With this in mind, last year I initiated the establishment of the International Biosafety Agency. Practical consultations with all stakeholders are currently underway, and we invite partners to support this initiative,” he said. 

He noted the importance of work on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to help global tourism and businesses deal with COVID-19.

“Health certificates will contribute to a safer reopening, economic recovery, and job creation in the post-pandemic period. We must use social media tools to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. There are doubts or mistrust that are rooted in the lack of science-based information in the media. We need to build on the facts by explaining the importance of vaccines to build trust among the population. We must indeed ‘build better,’ but we must also ‘build new’ – a new world that is more just, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and humane,” said Tokayev.

The Kazakh delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi is currently in New York representing the country at the high-level event. 

The General Debate is taking place from Sept. 21 through Sept. 27. Heads of states addressing the General Debate are focusing on 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 revitalize the United Nations.”

Several other high-level events are taking place on the margins of the General Debate – the second annual SDG Moment on Sept. 20, the first-ever Food Systems Summit on Sept. 23, the high-level Dialogue on Energy on Sept. 24  –  the first global gathering on energy under UNGA auspices since the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy in 1981 and the Jobs and Social Protection for Poverty Elimination event on Sept. 28. 

Due to the global pandemic, the size of the delegations allowed into the General Assembly Hall itself was limited.

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