Islamabad, February 18, 2021 (PPI-OT): The Foreign Minister addressed a special meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination for all in the Decade of Action for SDGs”, held in a virtual format today. In addition to the UN Secretary-General, other eminent speakers at the meeting included the President of South Africa and the Vice-President of Costa Rica. In his video message, the Foreign Minister underscored that reducing systematic inequality and eliminating racism, including its contemporary manifestations, were at the heart of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionately impacted minorities, making them more vulnerable to extreme poverty and unemployment, as well as higher rates of infection and mortality, the Foreign Minister urged the international community to address the structural drivers of discrimination, including those rooted in the history and legacy of colonialism.
With reference to Pakistan’s neighbourhood, the Foreign Minister highlighted that the hateful political rhetoric and incitement to violence against vulnerable ethnic and religious groups had resulted in discriminatory citizenship laws, attacks on places of worship and repeated state-sponsored pogroms against minorities, in addition to the brutal occupation and suppression of peoples struggling for their right to self-determination.
The Foreign Minister called upon the international community to recommit to upholding the fundamental principles of human rights and guaranteeing substantive equality for all. He also proposed, inter alia, the forging of a global alliance against the rise and spread of Islamophobic as well as other violent nationalist and racist groups. The special meeting was convened under Pakistan’s Presidency of ECOSOC, and was aimed at addressing the linkage between structural racism, discrimination, inequalities and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals – with a special focus on building those inter-linkages that help in a better response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
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