UN – Back At The Temple of Global Advocacy after 545 days: Town Hall Meeting with the President of the General Assembly

23 November 2021

(ANS – New York) - His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly held his first Town Hall meeting with civil society on Wednesday 17 with an impassioned plea to all his hearers both in person and virtual to help him make his presidency a presidency of Hope! The Salesian Congregation was also represented at this significant event, thanks to the presence of Fr Thomas Pallithanam, SDB.

It was after one year and ten months that members of the civil society had  access to the UN premises after the UN lowered its shutters for in person meetings  on 10th March 2020. Finally reopening the United Nations Security Council chamber to physical meetings in October, the UN again had to temporarily shut down its premises as five members of one national delegation had tested positive for Covid-19. From the start of his yearlong term, Volkan Bozkir, the President of the 75 Session had wanted to raise the profile of the UN globally as he contended that the Covid-19 crisis has shrouded the institution from public view.

Though Member states and UN staff has had access to the premises for the past several months, civil society had not been able to enter the UN building so far. 17th November will indeed remain as a memorable day to all who were able to attend the Town Hall Meeting.

His Excellency Abdulla Shahid outlined his vision for his Presidency of Hope: He said “This is a world in need of unity and solidarity. This is a world reeling in the wake of a pandemic that has devastated lives, destroyed economies and deprived communities. This is a world ripe with inaction, inequality and injustice; one that ignores the pleas of our planet and the most vulnerable. This is a world that needs a stronger and more effective United Nations, to bring together the best of humanity, rebuild communities, rescue the planet, recover economies and restore hope.”

To address this crisis and make his presidency a presidency of hope he would usher in “5 Rays Of Hope”: 1. Recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 2. Rebuilding sustainably, 3. Responding to the needs of the planet, 4. Respecting the rights of all and finally 5. Revitalizing the United Nations. In his response to questions from members of the civil society one could see his earnestness. Refraining from responding in UN-esque jargons he spoke from the heart, in simple language yet with the depth and passion of visionary.

When asked how he would want history to remember him when his term ends and his job is done His Excellency Abdulla Shahid replied: “A small man, who did small things, to make small changes to leave this world a better place, a place of Hope”.

“As Salesians, at this moment even as the year is drawing to a close we were exhorted by the Rector Major to live the whole year ‘Moved by Hope’” Fr Pallithanam, Salesian representative at the United Nations (UN), states.

Thomas Pallithanam


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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