At the in-person Opening Session of the United Nations Second Committee held on 05 October 2020 at the UN Headquarters in New York, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo reiterated the call for the United Nations to address the pre-existing and new vulnerabilities of middle-income countries especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, Ambassador Manalo cited available empirical data that show the acute impacts of the pandemic on middle-income countries. He also shared the Ministerial Declaration of the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Group held on 02 October 2020 that elaborated on the impacts of the pandemic on middle-income countries and underlined that, as we enter the Decade of Action, and amidst COVID-19, we need to work together to protect the development gains thus far achieved and to build back better.
“We will persist in our call for the UN system to seriously address the concerns and specific challenges of middle-income countries such as the Philippines. Not doing so would be shortsighted as these countries, taken together, constitute more than a hundred countries that account for more than half of the UN membership, majority of the world’s population, two thirds of the world’s poor, more than a third of global GDP, and a quarter of world’s exports and imports,” Ambassador Manalo stressed.
Ambassador Manalo also explained that within the first three months of the pandemic, the Philippines prioritized saving lives and improving its health system capacity, even while the economy took a serious hit and went into recession.
He urged for stronger cooperation and solidarity among Member States in providing support to those who are most affected by the pandemic, peoples and countries alike. He specifically called on Member States to promote and protect the human rights of migrant workers, regardless of their status, underlining that migrants are playing critical roles in the frontlines of this pandemic and thus are disproportionately exposed to the health risks posed by the virus.
Ambassador Manalo also reaffirmed the Philippines’ support for the convening of the 2021 Food Systems Summit, which aims to generate commitment and galvanize concrete actions to transform food systems to achieve sustainable development, and for reaching an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Ambassador Manalo recalled the remarks delivered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly General Debate that “COVID-19 knows no borders. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed.”
“The only way forward against this common virulent enemy is global solidarity and strengthened multilateralism. In the Philippines, our cry for battle is ‘we heal as one, we recover as one,’” he said.
The Second Committee discusses economic growth and development issues in the broadest sense, such as macroeconomic policy questions; financing for development; sustainable development; human settlements; globalization and interdependence; eradication of poverty; operational activities for development; agriculture development, food security and nutrition; information and communications technologies for development; and towards global partnerships. It covers part of the same ground as the Economic and Social Council, a charter organ with limited membership.