Day 1: UN General Debate | What did the LAC countries say?

September 22, 2020

The UN General Debate, held between September 22 and 29, is the international platform where world leaders participate to express their main concerns and ideas about the international situation.

This year’s main theme, proposed by the Assembly´s President-elect, Mr. Volkan Bozkir, is “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action”.

We gathered the speeches of the Latin America and the Caribbean countries, which participated in the first day of the General Debate: Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica and Peru. Their interventions focused on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, post-pandemic recovery measures, progress towards sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Find the recording and the PDF of the speeches here! 

*Disclaimer: All quotes were translated by Cepei


“As happened in most of the world, there were some sectors of the Brazilian media that have politicized the virus, spreading panic among the population. With phrases like ‘stay home’ and ‘we’ll take care of the economy later’ they almost brought social chaos to our country. “

“We are victims of a brutal disinformation campaign about the Amazon and the Brazilian wetlands. It is known that the Amazon is immensely rich, and that explains the support received from international institutions for this disinformation campaign, accompanied by the Brazilian exploitative and anti-patriotic associations, with the purpose of undermining the government and the Brazilian country”.

“We have a rainforest and we don’t allow fires to spread in it. Fire outbreaks occur in practically the same places, in the eastern parts of the forest, where origin Brazilians indigenous burn their farmland for sustenance in clear tree areas. These outbreaks of criminal fires are strictly fought, and I continue defending my policy of zero tolerance for environmental crime”.

“Under my government, Brazil is finally leaving behind a protectionist tradition and adopting trade liberalization as a key instrument for growth and transformation.”

Jair Bolsonaro, President




“In these times of crisis is when we most need leadership and multilateral collaboration. The great powers, instead of permanently confronting each other in economic and health field, should lead the fight against this pandemic and global recession and not generate a great and worrying leadership.”

“The Coronavirus Pandemic and the global economic recession have diverted the spotlight from climate change and global warming. But these serious threats continue advancing, and our best option is definitely confronting them simultaneously.”

“Latin America has had everything to be a developed region. (…) And yet, recognizing the important progress made in many fields, we continue to be an underdeveloped continent, with almost a third of its population living in poverty, a scourge that the coronavirus crisis will significantly aggravate. We have not been able to take full advantage of the talents and opportunities of our people. We have not managed to move towards true regional integration. And we are behind in our incorporation into the Technological and Digital Revolution, which has supported the Knowledge and Information Society.”

Sebastián Piñera, President




“As well as the pandemic solution, the democratization of this indispensable Organization [United Nations] is urgent, it should respond effectively to the needs and aspirations of everybody.”

“Paradoxically, the country that hosts the UN headquarters also rejects fundamental international treaties, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change; Repudiates the consensual nuclear agreement with Iran; Promotes trade wars; Ends its commitment to international instruments of control in the field of disarmament; Militarize cyberspace; Multiplies coercion and unilateral sanctions against those who do not comply with its designs and sponsors the overthrow by force of sovereign governments through unconventional warfare methods ”.

“It is urgent to reform the United Nations. This powerful organization, which emerged from the millionaire cost in lives of two world wars and as a result of the universal understanding of dialogue importance, negotiation, cooperation and international legality, cannot delay its updating and democratization any longer. Today’s world needs as much the UN as the one in which it was born.”

“The multidimensional crisis that [COVID-19] has unleashed, clearly demonstrates the profound error of the dehumanized policies imposed at all costs by market dictatorship. Today we are painful witnesses to the disaster which the irrational and unsustainable production and consumption capitalism system has led the world, decades of an unjust international order and the application of a crude and unbridled neoliberalism.”

Miguel Diaz Canel, President



“Colombia is home of half world’s paramos, and today I invite you to join us in creating a Global Strategy for the Defense of the Paramos, guaranteeing the survival of these ecosystems and the sustainability of the communities that inhabit them.”

“Real peace is a social decision to build prosperity based on truth, solidarity, legality and rejection of any violence form. This Government has designed a lawful peace policy, based on the social stabilization and institutional consolidation of the territories historically hit by violence and poverty.”

“Multilateral tools have been a key to the contribution of the international community (…) I highlight and appreciate the support of the UN Verification Mission, which is an exceptional witness to the great advances of our Government in the aim of achieving peace with legality, a real peace.”

“Mechanisms like Covax, where Colombia actively participates, are essential for various nations to collaborate in the search and distribution of a possible [COVID-19] vaccine. Solidarity between nations and permanent collaboration are essential if we want to successfully navigate the pandemic storm. The pandemic is being a turning point to think about a sustainable and fair future.”

Iván Duque, President



“We are facing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, this terrible disease. And we are also facing what unleashed or produced this pandemic, the economic crisis, like in other countries. We are simultaneously facing two crises.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President




“Uruguay supports the role of the World Health Organization and the coordinating role of the United Nations System against this pandemic, understanding that international organizations play a fundamental coordination and guidance role which is the best possible solution to the current critical situation, and a coordinated management of its impacts in the medium and long term.”

“We want to make a special mention to the existence of vulnerable sectors of the population, particularly affected by the pandemic, such as women victims of domestic violence, a special problem of Uruguay and that has prompted us to develop specific policies to respond to this situation. And we cannot forget the migrants and internally displaced persons who are also doubly vulnerable to this pandemic.”

 “We need more coordination in speech and practice from the United Nations; An organization that actively engages with other international organizations, including financial ones, being able to implement a variety of mechanisms that allow countries to overcome external and internal obstacles to their development, considering its multidimensionality.”

“We especially value the efforts of the [United Nations] body to include civil society and the private sector, as part of the solution of economic, social and environmental problems, since inclusive and sustainable development requires participation of the whole society.”

Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, President




“If we are joining the efforts of doctors, researchers, investors and scientific systems around the planet to discover a vaccine which prevents COVID-19, we have to be able to dream and build a vaccine against social injustice, environmental predation and discrimination in all its forms (…) We maintain that the vaccine produced to prevent the disease must be a public good accessible to all nations in an equitable manner.”

“We need a 4.0 United Nations, with its founding values intact and with the lucidity to incorporate the immense technological changes, to make it more human, democratic and socially inclusive.”

“The way out of the pandemic and the 2030 Agenda Objectives, requires promoting economic, industrial and social policies aimed at structural change in our economies.”

“Argentina has been classified in the UN ranking as the country with the most gender perspective implemented during the pandemic.”

Alberto Fernández, President



Costa Rica

“For Costa Rica it is essential that vaccines [for COVID-19] reach, first of all, the most vulnerable people such as elderly, people with risk factors, women and girls, indigenous and Afro-descendants, deprived of liberty people and, of course, health and personnel workers who are in the first line of response throughout the world ”.

“A second proposal that Costa Rica is promoting is the Fund against COVID-19 Economy [which] would be an extraordinary support fund of half a trillion dollars, financed with 0.7% of the GDP of the largest and strongest economies in the world, those that represent 80% of the world GDP.”

“Our resources and priorities must converge in the realization of the most ambitious and comprehensive human development program ever conceived: The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. These objectives are more relevant today than ever. They provide us with a model to overcome the crisis and prepare us to face future ones.”

“If COVID-19 is an early warning to humanity, the climate crisis and inequality are the greatest threats of human security to this and the next generation. We must embrace the complexity of the tasks, not shy away from it (…) This complex task involves ensuring the implementation of the most relevant sustainable development instruments, which are the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the framework of post-2020 global biodiversity and the Sendai framework.”

Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President



“I encourage everyone to unite in this fight [against COVID-19], jointly and effectively, recognizing the vaccine and treatment against this virus as global public good, and guaranteeing timely and equitable access to medicines and necessary equipment to deal with the pandemic (…) This will strengthen the multilateral system and ensure the fulfillment of the commitment we assumed in 2015 to ‘leave no one behind.’”

“In the face of this multidimensional crisis, the 2030 Agenda continues to be the roadmap that guides our decisions to overcome challenges that have been made more complex by the pandemic. This is the case of poverty increase. Peru maintains its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“Peru supports the COVAX Facility initiative, the Accelerator Platform to Access Tools against COVID-19, the Alliance for Vaccines and the Preparedness Coalition Innovations for Epidemics. We encourage competition for the discovery of vaccines and treatments (…) to yield results that bring us collective benefit, as global public goods at the service of humanity.”

“My Government approved in 2018 the Law Climate Change Framework and it is committed to the national implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

Martín Vizcarra, President



Check out the LAC speeches from other sessions


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