At UN General Assembly, President Biden to urge world leaders to defeat COVID-19, tackle climate crisis and defend democracy and human rights

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week, U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the U.S. delegation, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield will urge the international community to redouble efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, tackle the climate crisis and defend democracy and human rights, an official said on Friday.

The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, New York, will look different this year because of the still raging coronavirus pandemic. Fewer leaders, guests and journalists will attend in person, and the United States delegation will be smaller.

The U.S. government has worked within the UN, the CDC, and the City of New York to put into place several COVID-19 mitigation measures to protect UNGA participants and New Yorkers.

At a press briefing on Friday, Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department, said the Biden administration’s goals and objectives for this year’s UNGA will be to “advance U.S. interests and promote a healthier, more peaceful, and secure world.”

Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter and Deputy Spokesperson John T. Ice join Department Spokesperson Ned Price, as he holds the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 2, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha 
Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter and Deputy Spokesperson John T. Ice join Department Spokesperson Ned Price, as he holds the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 2, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

She said that “sustained action to defeat COVID-19 is the administration’s top priority at UNGA this year.”

“The U.S. is committed to leading the global response to COVID-19, to galvanizing commitments to bring an end the pandemic, and to financing global health security so the world is better prepared to avert and respond to future outbreaks,” she said. “We are building a global coalition to accelerate vaccine production and expand access to lifesaving treatments around the world. We look forward to working with our international partners at UNGA to end this pandemic and build back better for the future.”

Porter added that the United States will also use UNGA High-Level Week to reinvigorate global commitments to combat the climate crisis.

“President Biden committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement on Day 1 of his administration in recognition that climate change is the greatest existential threat facing our world today – and quite simply there is no time to delay,” she said. “This year at UNGA, we will urge the international community to make ambitious goals – ambitious global and national commitments to combat climate change in this decisive decade.”

The U.S. will also use UNGA High-Level Week to voice support for universal human rights, democratic values, and the rules-based international order.

“Defending human rights and democratic values at home and around the world is essential to renewing the United States’ national strength and advancing our interests,” Porter said. “It is incumbent upon democracies, including through action in the UN system, to prove that we can deliver for our people in the face of unprecedented global challenges.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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