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United Nations restores surfaces after long lockdowns Pandemic – Global issues

Empty shelves on the third floor of the UN, where several news organizations are located. Credit: IPS
  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Joint press service

Guided by the High Emergency Policy Group and the Occupational Safety and Health Commission in New York, Guterres decided to make the following changes:

As of Monday, March 14, the use of masks will be voluntary throughout the building of the United Nations and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), most of which have been denied entry since May. 3 2020, will now be allowed access to UN facilities.

While diplomats were never barred from participating by the UN during the lockdown – since they “own” the building – all CSOs were barred from the facility. The UN also refused to renew their pass to enter the headquarters building.

The growing protests last year came from a number of NGOs, most of which have partnered with the United Nations and provided humanitarian assistance in conflict countries, including Afghanistan. , Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Ethiopia.

“Civil society organizations are very excited about the resumption of access to the UN building,” said a former senior UN official who regularly interacts with CSOs.

To date, most meetings and briefings have been described as “mixed,” partly face-to-face, but mostly via videoconference.

As of Monday, March 28, Intergovernmental meetings will also continue as “normal” and through Monday, April 4, United Nations headquarters will enter the “next normal” phase. .

This circular outlines decisions regarding the opening of buildings to visitors, the public, including United Nations Guided Tours, to non-resident reporters, and the organization of Events / banquets will be held in April, the circular addressed to more than 3,000 UN staff in New York.

The UN’s decision to go “fully operational” comes after criticism from member states about the lack of UN staff to serve some of the meetings.

Guinea’s Ambassador Boubacar Diallo, outgoing Chairman of the Group of 77 plus China, the largest coalition of developing countries at the UN, warned late last year that the Group continued to be frustrated by concerns about Security, Administration and Budget Committee. were deprived of interpreting services (in six official UN languages) during informal consultations.

“We look forward to the day when multilingualism is fully restored and we can enjoy interpretation services like we are doing here today. We are committed to a thorough review of the agenda items assigned to the Commission, and in this regard, please note with disappointment that a number of reports are still pending,” he added.

He pointed out that this endemic status significantly affects the work of the Commission. With a resolution passed by consensus, comprising the 134 members of the G77, he said, “The resolution of the General Assembly cannot be ignored and deafens the ears of a two-thirds majority of the Members-General. “

The UN still bans scores of UN retirees living in the tri-state region — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. One of them, who retired after almost 22 years working in the Secretariat, told IPS, UN security officers banned him from entering the building last month and said that the UN pass was retired. His pension is invalid.

“I was treated as if I was a security risk – after all these years of serving the UN,” he complained.

When asked about the status of UN staff in Geneva, which hosts one of the largest consortiums of UN agencies, Ian Richards, former Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the International Unions and Staff Associations (CCISUA) says IPS masks are still required in public spaces today. .

“Many meetings have returned to normal. The parking lot is being filled up. “We are starting to see a more stable pattern of colleagues rotating between office and home,” he added.

In Geneva, retirees have been able to immigrate since last year, he said. “There’s no reason to keep them away,” said Richards, an economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

In his announcement, Guterres said, “after two long years of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we have encouraging news to report. The number of cases, hospitalizations, and transmission rates of COVID-19 have improved significantly in New York City and the Tri-State area.”

UNHQ personnel cases also fell sharply and remained at a very low level for some time. As you know, State and City governments in New York have now lifted or revised their pandemic mitigation measures, he said. “From the outset, our approach to health and safety measures, as well as our transition from Phase 0 to the ‘Next Normal’, has been closely guided by advice and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and of local health authorities in the City and State of New York,” said Guterres. CDC has introduced a new “community level” tool to help shape prevention steps based on the latest data. The grades – defined by hospital admission and test positivity rates – were characterized as low, moderate, or high. New York is currently at a low community level, for which the CDC recommends the following:

As for the question of masks, the circular said people can choose to wear masks at any time. People who have symptoms, test positive, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

Regarding COVID-19 vaccines: “Always up to date (meaning a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible)”.

Meanwhile, authorities in New York City have decided to end COVID-19 vaccination requirements at restaurants, gyms, gyms, entertainment and cultural venues.

But the City will continue to mandate mask wearing in public transit, as well as in medical facilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools/kindergartens for 2 to 5 year olds. and the Broadway theatre. Individual businesses can choose to commission masks while in-home mask entrustment for schools has been discontinued in the Tri-State area.

“Based on the new guidelines, we are now able to make the relevant changes in our workplace, returning to full operational capacity while prioritizing the health and safety of our employees and balance the operational needs of the Organization,” the circular added.

Guterres thanked the staff for their resilience, dedication and extraordinary efforts during this long and difficult period.

“We have learned many lessons together – including how to work effectively in innovative ways. Let us build on those lessons as we carry out our essential mission to promote peace, sustainable development and human rights for all,” he added.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS


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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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