President Hage Geingob has called on world leaders to recommit to and strengthen multilateralism to better address global crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic that has disproportionately impacted developing and emerging economies.
Geingob’s message was contained in a pre-recorded video statement delivered yesterday evening during the virtual high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) that also marked the opening session of this year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA 2020).
“As we face the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating effects, we should reaffirm our collective commitment to cooperate in a world governed by international laws and a multilateral system in which no one should feel left out,” Geingob said.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has altered the trajectories of the world socio-economic livelihoods, and the nations’ interactions with one another.
“While not perfect, multilateralism and rules-based order are essential tools in strengthening governance, protecting civil liberties and the fundamental rights of the people we serve in our respective countries,” said the head of state.
He said an effective, rules-based multilateral system is the world insurance policy against existential threats such as war, nuclear proliferation, pandemics and climate change.
“It is therefore of utmost importance that we continue to defend multilateralism at all cost. The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into an acute health and economic crisis, the severity of which has not been seen in a century,” Geingob said.
He said the pandemic has disproportionately affected some countries more than others, exposing and exacerbating vulnerabilities and inequalities within and among countries.
“The adverse socio-economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, compounding existing challenges such as high debt burdens, reduced fiscal revenues, capital outflows, and lack of adequate and sufficient access to financial markets, does not bode well for the future of developing countries,” the President said.
This, he said is due to the fact that the unfolding crisis could halt or reverse gains in poverty eradication, food security and inequality.
“It is why this health emergency should lead to an even deeper sense of urgency and impactful multilateral solidarity,” he said, adding that the world needs it more than ever before.
In this respect, Geingob commended the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, for the launch of the US$2 billion multi-partner Trust Fund for Covid-19 Response and Recovery.
He said while he also acknowledge the debt relief initiatives announced by the IMF, the World Bank and the G20, he encourages all partners to facilitate their emergency lending mechanisms and accelerate technical support to even so-called “Higher Middle Income Countries such as Namibia”.
He said this is vital to ensure access to social protection and basic services, sustainable economic activity, and protection of jobs and incomes.
Geingob also reiterated that Namibia will continue to advocate for the self-determination of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara, currently under occupation.
“The 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals and their promise to leave no one behind by 2030, ring hollow for the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara, who still remain under occupation,” Geingob told world leaders.
“They are left behind. As a nation that has experienced the outpouring of international solidarity during the dark days of our struggle for independence, we wish to express our continued support for the right to self-determination and freedom of the peoples of Palestine and of Western Sahara.”
Geingob said he hopes that the search for the UN secretary general special envoy for Western Sahara will be concluded very soon.
In support of the pursuit of economic development, unity and prosperity for Namibia’s sister country Zimbabwe, Geingob once again call on the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
He said Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been pursuing reforms that will enable the people of that country to get on a path of sustainable development and peace.
“The continued sanctions on Zimbabwe undermine these efforts to develop the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Furthermore, Geingob reiterated Namibia’s deep concern over the continuation of the extraterritorial economic, financial and commercial embargo imposed on the people of Cuba.
“We continue to express our support for the government and people of Cuba and call for the unconditional lifting of the embargo, and for respect of the sovereignty of Cuba,” he said.