1. The “Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security” at the United Nations, which was launched at the initiative of the government of the Republic of Korea on May 12 in order for the UN to respond to health security issues, such as COVID-19, held a virtual high-level meeting themed “Protraction of the COVID-19 Crisis: Mitigating the Impact and Protecting Future Generations” on the morning of September 23, New York time, as a side event during the High-Level Week of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
° The meeting was moderated by Stewart Simonson, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) who leads the WHO office at the UN in New York, and virtually joined by Minister Kang, Kyung-wha and other high-level delegates from co-chair countries of the Group of Friends and other countries.
2. In her opening remarks, Minister Kang, Kyung-wha stressed that, under the circumstance where negative impact of the protracted COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying in not only health but also peace, security, economic and social aspects, the will for mutual cooperation among countries to overcome this crisis together should not be weakened. She went on to underscore the need to strengthen multilateral systems, including the WHO.
° With regard to COVID-19 response, the Minister highlighted the need for global solidarity based on multilateralism, including in the development of vaccines as a global public good; social solidarity to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized are given extra care and well-protected; and intergenerational solidarity to render support to future generations particularly affected by COVID-19.
3. The delegates from co-chair countries of the Group of Friends, including the Minister of Public Health of the State of Qatar, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Senior Citizens of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Minister of Health and Sanitation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, noted with appreciation that the Group of Friends is serving as a useful platform promoting discussions on health security issues, such as COVID-19, at the UN, and welcomed the virtual high-level meeting.
4. Also among the participants were Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore, CEO of BlueDot* Kamran Khan, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Asa Regner, and delegates of countries, who discussed ways to mitigate impact of infectious diseases in such areas as children, youth, women and technology, and to protect future generations, from the perspectives of the UN, private companies and civic groups.
* A Toronto-based startup that invented an AI-based early warning system for infectious diseases
° BTS, a Korean boy group, also virtually participated in the event as a special speaker and delivered a message of solidarity and hope to future generations who are facing difficulties due to COVID-19.
5. While the High-Level Week of the UN General Assembly is underway in a virtual format for the first time since the founding of the UN due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-level meeting of the UN Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security is seen to have served as an opportunity to reaffirm the significance of multilateral cooperation based on solidarity for overcoming crises.
° In particular, the meeting helped enhance the international community’s attention and understanding regarding the need for efforts to improve global health security for future generations largely affected by COVID-19, including children and youth.
6. The ROK government, through its activities in the Group of Friends, plans to continue leading solidarity and cooperation at the UN with the aim to resolve various issues concerning global health security.