Poverty and inequality drive conflict and instability, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while addressing the UN General Assembly as she urged “making trade more open and inclusive.”
“The COVID-19 disrupted global supply chains while at the same time it illustrated the importance of open trade to protecting the health of people and lifting them out of poverty and hunger,” Ardern told the ongoing 76th session of the world body via video link.
She said the international community must “commit to ensuring the flow of essential goods and services, and reject any temptation to turn inwards and focus on protectionism.”
“Humanitarian crises have worsened. We are seeing this in Afghanistan and there are many more. As an international community we must rise to the challenge of meeting the growing humanitarian need. But we also have to intensify our efforts to prevent conflict and build peace,” said the two-time premier.
She said fostering and sustaining peace in societies requires an “absence of poverty, hunger, and material deprivation.”
“But it is also something more. Peaceful societies are inclusive societies, where diversity is embraced and everyone has both the means and the opportunities to contribute to the fullness of their potential,” said Ardern. “Where women and girls are lifted up and encouraged to exercise their voice and their agency.”
“Whatever our political or constitutional systems, no nation will ever be truly peaceful in the absence of these basic conditions, founded on the fundamental and equal rights of every person,” she said.
She warned when peace fails, “we must all do our part to strengthen and improve respect for the laws of armed conflict, and to enhance the protection of civilians.”
“Preventing both the use of illegal weapons, and the illegal use of legal weapons, is essential, as is ensuring there is no impunity for any such use.”
On the pandemic, Ardern said the global community will face further health risks, and “we have no excuses for remaining unprepared.”
The pandemic has pushed more than 120 million people into extreme poverty and "inequality within and between countries has deepened," Ardern said.
New Zealand, she said, will actively engage in work streams to develop a pandemic treaty, convention or other international instruments “to improve global surveillance, validation and early response, and importantly, to strengthen the World Health Organization.”
“If there is any lesson we can draw from the events of the past 18 months, it is the need for more, and better, cooperation,” said Ardern.
“And with the need for better cooperation, comes the need for responsive and adaptive global institutions, including the United Nations,” she added.
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