Abdulla Shahid said that despite the tragic year and a half the world has faced, it was time to choose a new chapter and walk forward in his first address as the President of the United Nation's President.
In the first meeting of the 76th UNGA session, Shahid took the oath and took office as the President on Tuesday, in New York City. Maldives' Foreign Minister was elected as the President on June 7, and flew to New York on August 29.
Shahid spoke initially in Dhivehi in his first address as the President of the UNGA. He said he understands the responsibilities and the rank of the position appointed to him, and noted that these were accomplished under the guidance of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. He said that this was a great achievement to Maldives and its people, past and present, and that this showed that the international community had accepted the President's policies.
Shahid had talked about the tumultuous year the world has had a well.
"To say that it has been a challenging 18-months would be an understatement," Shahid said, highlighting the difficulties the world faced as it fought a global pandemic.
While an innumerable number of people had suffered, he said the world did not experience the pandemic in numbers, but rather on personal levels as well.
"We lost loved ones, lockdowns restricted our personal freedom, we were distanced from our family and friends, hospitals were overwhelmed, frontline workers were exhausted and at-risk, so many lost jobs, suffered, and continue to suffer economic hardships," he said.
Shahid said that vaccinating the world was his top focus on recovering from COVID-19. He said he would be holding a high-level thematic debate on vaccine equity with leading experts and world leaders.
"We simply must close the gap to vaccine access," he said.
In order to re-build sustainably from the pandemic, he would be working with the Economic and Social Council, the UN System, and International Financial Institution as well.
Other area's of focus during Shahid's term as president would include the environment, gender-balance, and youth participation. He said he all his staff would have to participate in mandatory training programs on gender equality and on the prevention of sexual harassment.
"On gender issues, I intend to reconstitute the Gender Advisory Board. I also would like to repeat my earlier pledge – that I will only participate on those panels that are gender balanced," Shahid said.
He announced that his team, including his senior cabinet, was gender balanced.