COVID-19 a litmus test of global unity: Thai prime minister

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (on screen) of Thailand addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session. — courtesy UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (on screen) of Thailand addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session. — courtesy UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

NEW YORK — The COVID-19 pandemic is a “litmus test” of the faith in multilateralism and unity among nations, the Prime Minister of Thailand told world leaders gathered virtually at the UN General Assembly, urging every country to renew their trust in international cooperation.

Addressing the Assembly’s annual high-level debate via a pre-recorded video, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called on the leaders to “remain steadfast and not be shaken by nationalist sentiments or anti-globalization tendencies.”

The global crisis, he said, should motivate us to “unite as one”, since it has been proven that no nation can face the challenges alone.

“Such is the future we want.”

COVID-19 response

In his address, Prime Minister Prayut reaffirmed the Thai government’s commitment to control the spread of COVID-19, informing the Assembly of its efforts to that effect, in accordance with the International Health Regulations 2005 and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

The measures include health screening for all inbound and outbound travellers; the “stay home, save lives” campaign; social distancing in public spaces; and providing comprehensive, timely and transparent information, while combatting fake news and disinformation. In addition, more than one million village health volunteers are supporting efforts in communities.

“All patients, regardless of nationality, have been guaranteed equal access to medical treatment,” the Prime Minister added, noting that the government has also introduced economic-response packages to help individuals and businesses.

In helping revive the economy, Thailand’s efforts focused on the bio-, circular- and green- economy, and it has applied the concept of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, a nationally driven approach to strengthen sustainability and resilience, while leaving no one behind.

Sustainable development

Turning to sustainable development, Prime Minister Prayut said that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic threaten to delay the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline.

“We must, therefore, work harder, cooperate closer, and further promote the development path with people at the center. We must also prioritize the participation of all stakeholders and emphasize utilizing technology for development,” he urged the General Assembly.

The Prime Minister also informed world leaders of Thailand’s collaboration with the international community and the UN system, including its co-hosting of the Global South-South Development Expo 2021 in Bangkok, in partnership with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Crisis teaches lessons

Wrapping up, the prime minister of Thailand said while crises bring suffering, they also teach useful lessons, which help in formulating stronger and more effective responses to future challenges.

The “new normal” and future social landscape depend on both the current as well as the youth and new generations, he said.

“Together we must create a space for all generations to join hands in collaboration in order to plan for a future that we want,” added the prime minister. — UN News