Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted minorities and made them vulnerable to extreme poverty, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday urged the international community to address the drivers of structural discrimination, including those rooted in the history of colonialism.
Qureshi was virtually speaking at a 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, the Foreign Office (FO) said.
The minister said that reducing systematic inequality and eliminating racism, including its contemporary manifestations, were at the heart of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionately impacted minorities, making them more vulnerable to extreme poverty and unemployment, as well as led to higher rates of infection and mortality.
Qureshi urged the international community to address the structural drivers of discrimination, including those rooted in the history and legacy of colonialism.
The 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 Islamophobia 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, according to the FO.
In addition to the UN Secretary-General, other speakers at the meeting included President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and the Vice-President of Costa Rica.
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