VIENNA, 26 June — The United Nations family in Vienna marked United Nations Charter Day on Friday with a virtual and actual gathering at the UN headquarters in the Austrian capital, and a commitment to work to fix the failings COVID-19 has exposed in our systems and social safety nets.
Austria’s Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, visited the Vienna International Centre (VIC) to help mark Charter Day and United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which also falls on 26 June.
Ghada Waly, the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna, said the world had come together 75 years ago in the sober realization that the only way to stop untold sorrow was through collective understanding and united purpose.
“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to consume lives and livelihoods, and conflict and violence rear their ugly heads, our best hope is to find inspiration in the vision of the Charter once again,” she told a Commission on Narcotic Drugs special event that was largely held virtually but had a number of high-level and other participants in the VIC appropriately distanced.
“We are fortunate to be able to meet in person today, and we do so in the knowledge that we are lucky while many others are not, and that this crisis is far from over,” said Ms. Waly, who is also the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Many of the VIC’s 5,000 personnel have been gradually returning to the VIC after working remotely since mid-March.
Ms. Waly thanked Austria for its wise management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Schallenberg said the United Nations could look back on a great history of working for the advancement of humankind, while acknowledging these standards are being constantly threatened.
“Our generation is facing a range of strongly interrelated challenges, ranging from armed conflicts to climate change and from political repression to extreme poverty. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated these challenges even further,” he said. “I believe that the family of the United Nations in Vienna is well equipped to provide the perfect framework for advancing multilateralism. It is an indispensable hub for many pressing issues of our times.”
Ms. Waly said the Charter holds the key to shaping the future we want, and the UN’s plans to help the world build back better after COVID-19 were anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The response plan launched by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 25 June will “address precisely those failings of our systems and social safety nets that COVID-19 has exposed and further weakened”.
“The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Office at Vienna remain fully committed to playing our part, along with the rest of the UN family in this headquarters by the Danube,” she said. “Guided by the famed Vienna Spirit of consensus, countries here always find a way past their differences, to come together in the face of shared threats and challenges and promote shared responses.”
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