UK Remembers 1st UN General Assembly as it Raises $1Billion for Vaccines for Vulnerable Nations

The First Session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on the 10th January 1946 at Central Hall in London. Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, addressing the General Assembly. On the podium to the rear, from top right are: Trygve Lie, First Secretary-General of the United Nations: Paul Henri Spaak of Belgium, First President of the GA; and Andrew Cordier, Executive Assistant to the Secretary-General.
UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey – Photo Date: 10/01/1946

The United Kingdom government (UK) has now mobilised $1 billion from global donors to support vulnerable countries access coronavirus vaccines in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

This coincided with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres taking a ‘virtual visit’ to UK to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

Broad Sanctuary Green in Westminster was officially re-named ‘United Nations Green’ to commemorate the first UN General Assembly meeting at Westminster Central Hall in 1946.

The UK has helped to raise $1 billion for the coronavirus COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) through match-funding other donors, which combined with the £548 million of UK aid pledged will help distribute one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year.

This vital investment will help stop the spread of the disease and prevent future waves, helping to build back better from coronavirus globally, an FCDO release stated. “The UK is using our aid budget, scientific expertise and diplomatic leverage to strengthen global health.”

The announcement coincided with a three-day virtual visit to London by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, as part of the UK’s commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary.

Over the last 75 years, the UK has played a leading role in supporting the UN and we are working together to strengthen international collaboration to tackle today’s biggest global challenges, from coronavirus to climate change.

Frieda Dalen, Alternate Delegate of Norway and Rapporteuse of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, addresses the first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.. Ms. Dalen is the first female delegate to address the Assembly.
UN Photo/VH
29 January 1946

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It is fitting that, on the 75th anniversary of the UN, the UK has led with our allies to make one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine available to vulnerable countries. We’ll only be safe from this virus, when we’re all safe – which is why we’re focused on a global solution to a global problem.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “In the midst of a second world war that was far from won, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt – later joined by leaders of China, France, the-then Soviet Union and other allied powers – courageously set out a vision to free the world of fear and want, through cooperation. This vision became the United Nations and, on this very day 75 years ago, the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held in London.

“At this time of new global turmoil, I am honoured to virtually visit the United Kingdom to mark that occasion, renew our cause of overcoming global challenges together, and celebrate a country that was instrumental in creating the United Nations and which remains, today, a crucial member state, not least in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow.”

Sunday January 10, 2021 marked 75 years after the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London. The UK hosted a virtual commemorative event which will bring together the UN Secretary-General, Lord Ahmad, and civil society to celebrate the huge achievements of this unprecedented global institution and discuss how to build our collaboration topics including gender and health.

The commemorative event marked the UK’s role in the founding of the UN, which has negotiated 172 peace settlements that have ended conflicts and over 300 international treaties from human rights conventions to agreements on the use of outer space, the arms trade and the oceans. The UN is currently running 12 peacekeeping missions to address conflict throughout the world.

As a permanent tribute to 75 years of the UN’s work, the lawn next to Westminster Central Hall, formally known as Broad Sanctuary Green where the first meeting was held, will be re-named ‘United Nations Green’.

On Monday, the UN Secretary-General will met virtually with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office Ministers Lord Ahmad, James Cleverly, Lord Goldsmith and Wendy Morton, and the COP26 President Designate, Alok Sharma.
The Secretary-General also held discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He also attended a COP26 roundtable about clean power, alongside the UK Foreign Secretary, COP26 President Designate, and Ministers from across the world.

Since 2011, UK aid has provided over 26 million people with improved access to clean energy and is looking ahead with even higher ambition, having committed to invest £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance from April 2021.

The UK announced at the United Nations General Assembly in September that it would match every $4 pledged to the COVAX AMC by other donors with £1 in UK funding, up to £250 million. Since then, other countries including Canada, Japan and Germany have committed funding to the scheme, reaching the landmark target. In total the UK has now contributed £548 million to the AMC.