Bahrain calls for new task force

BAHRAIN has proposed a new task force with United Nations member states to overcome the negative impact of Covid-19 on global sustainable development goals.

His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa launched the initiative – ‘Friends of the UN Secretary General’– during a high-level meeting yesterday.

Health strategies, economic consequences and the post-pandemic path forward came under the spotlight at the fourth edition of ‘Bahrain Visions – Shared Visions for a Successful Global Future’ forum held remotely under the patronage of the Premier.

“We call for the establishment of an informal group of member states that could champion political action at a multi-lateral level,” Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani said in his speech delivered on behalf of the Premier.

“We want to build a world dominated by stability, tranquillity, virtuous values, rejection of hatred, the spirit of a culture of coexistence and world peace.”

Principally, he said, such a group could act as ‘friends’ of the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, to discuss and work on the negative impact of Covid-19 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SDGs, also known as the ‘Global Goals’, were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Dr Al Zayani was speaking during an event organised by the Prime Minister’s Court in co-operation with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The forum’s theme was ‘Sustainable Development Goals in Post-Covid-19 Pandemic’. The minister conveyed the Premier’s message that it’s vital for the global community to prioritise its health strategies post the pandemic.

He said Bahrain has taken a lead in handling the crisis and continues to serve the entire community on all fronts.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and its economic, social and political repercussions have created a new reality, placing people and governments with a wide range of challenges,” added the minister.

“This has caused economic contraction with decline in growth rates, increased government spending and an unprecedented rise in global debt.”

The minister stated the pandemic remains a global health challenge and its repercussions have caused a ‘cycle of social anxiety and turmoil in all aspects of daily life’.

“We need to focus our efforts on developing a global strategy which enhances the right of people’s health security as an integral part of global security,” he said.

“Under these exceptional circumstances Bahrain continues to provide all support to citizens and residents regarding their health and safety while maintaining their economic well-being.”

Dr Al Zayani said the international community should confront dangers that pose a threat to human life and called for collective action by putting aside differences.

Also speaking at the event yesterday was WHO director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, who praised Bahrain’s efforts in dealing with the pandemic.

“I would like to back Bahrain’s commitment to multi-lateralism and proposal to create friends of the Secretary General to discuss the negative impact of Covid-19 on the SDGs,” said Dr Ghebreyesus during the webinar.

“The impacts go far beyond health livelihoods as the global economy is in recession and geopolitical divisions have deepened.”

He said everyday millions remain exposed to sickness or poverty because of the conditions they live, or work in, and a lack of affordable health care.

“There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic is a serious setback to our collective efforts to achieve the SDGs, but we cannot allow it to become an excuse for failing to deliver on our commitments,” he added,

“We cannot return to the old cycle of panic and neglect.”

The virtual event coincides with the high level meetings held on the sidelines of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, as well as UN’s 75th anniversary.

Participants at yesterday’s webinar included Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary for International Affairs Dr Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Mr Guterres, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege and other officials.




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