UN Geneva chief optimistic about post-pandemic future, expects stronger multilateralism

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GENEVA, March 25 (Xinhua) — “After this pandemic, I think that as a result of this experience, we will find more unified solutions and I hope the United Nations (UN) will be strengthened and multilateralism will be strengthened,” Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, told Xinhua Thursday at a press conference.

Valovaya, the first woman to head the UN’s Geneva office, pointed to the lesson of history that in the wake of global tragedies, people around the world tend to realize the need for international cooperation. In her opinion, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the importance and necessity of more inclusive, interactive multilateralism.

“What’s really important is that we’re really sure how interdependent we are and how necessary it is to mobilize our forces in order to reach sustainable development goals, and to address the global challenges now and together,” she said.

Before the pandemic, the UN official said people tended to think they still had time to deal with such problems like climate emergency, but the pandemic “really showed how catastrophic global challenges can be for the whole world.”

According to Valovaya, the year 2020 might have been the first to have brought a global crisis, because the world had never been so interconnected before.

“I’m very optimistic. I really hope that as a result of this difficult year, we will reassess our priorities, we will understand that certain issues that we considered long-term challenges are actually already there and we have to address them in an inclusive and multilateral way, because these are global problems,” she said.

She mentioned the role of Geneva as a center for multilateralism, where the “very important political and sometimes very informal talks” lead to “necessary results.”

In 2020, the UN’s Geneva office hosted 4,274 meetings, most of which were in virtual and hybrid format, she said. “Though this represents a smaller number of meetings than usual, we were able to host more meetings than any other UN duty stations.”

Among the positive results cited by the UN Geneva chief were the “complete and permanent” ceasefire agreement signed by the Libyan military forces and the “pledges of 3.3 billion U.S. dollars” raised for Afghanistan.

Looking ahead, the UN official said that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, and one of her main priorities will be to continue working closely with all interested partners to support the effective implementation of this agenda.

Valovaya stressed the important role China can play in this process, saying that China is a very important partner for the United Nations and a key player in several fields.

“China’s economic and social potential and its experience in finding solutions for many economic and social problems over the decades can be very helpful,” she said. “When a large country like China is interested in engaging in discussions to find common solutions in common, it is very important for modern multilateralism,” she said. Enditem

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