Minister of Foreign Affairs Narayan Khadka addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York today.

In his address, the foreign minister highlighted the devastating impacts of the COV- ID-19 pandemic and said that the crisis had brought the world to a grinding halt, devastated the global economy, pushed an additional 150 million people into extreme poverty, and threatened to reverse hard-earned development gains. "Nowhere is this distinctly visible than in the most weak and vulnerable countries where people remain deprived of access to basic civic amenities," he said.

Minister Khadka appreciated the efforts made by the international community, including the United Nations system, to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and underscored the need to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Vaccines must be declared as public goods for the benefit of people's lives, he stressed.

He also highlighted Nepal's efforts to build a sustainable and resilient recovery from the pandemic and thanked India, China, United States, Britain, Japan and others for providing vaccines, critical medical equipment, and medicines in fight against the pandemic.

While sharing Nepal's principled position on peace, security, disarmament, terrorism, human rights, sustainable development, climate change, he condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, called for general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in a time-bound and verifiable manner, highlighted the importance of promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, ensured resilient recovery and building back better and stronger for achieving SDGs.

He reiterated Nepal's commitment to delivering climate-resilient development pathways by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 and said that the climate ambition of developing countries must be met with easier access to adequate financial and technological support for adaptation and mitigation.

Referring to Nepal's contribution to the UN peace operations to promote peace, security, and stability, he underlined the importance of safety, security and dignity of peacekeepers as well as the need for adequate training, resources, and modern technologies.

The minister also highlighted the structural impediments facing the vulnerable countries like LDCs and LLDCs and said that they needed reliable and sustainable financing, partnerships, and technology transfer to overcome these challenges.

"Nepal's plan to graduate from the LDC category by 2026 is an opportunity to bring structural transformation and make the long-held national aspiration of graduation smooth, sustainable, and irreversible.

The forthcoming LDC- 5 must be built on the unfinished business of IPOA, with a commitment to support the graduating countries with adequate measures, he added.

He emphasised that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis must not be a pretext for retracting from ODA commitments," he said.

Minister Khadka welcomed the steps taken by the IMF and G20 on debt relief and debt service suspension and called for a reformed and more equitable international debt restructuring to address the debt crisis of low-income countries. He also outlined Nepal's foreign policy priorities and said that its relations with neighbours and all other countries were based on the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, non-alignment, international law and norms of world peace.

He expressed Nepal's support on the measures and initiatives taken for UN reforms and stressed the need for a more representative, inclusive, and transparent Security Council and a more revitalised General Assembly.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 29 2021, of The Himalayan Times.