Town Hall Meeting with the President of the UN General Assembly

By Paul Rahmat SVD

Civil Society Town Hall Meeting with His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly

His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), held his first Town Hall meeting with civil society on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. “Welcome home!” he said at the opening speech to the leaders of civil society organizations in the Town Hall Meeting ( The UN PGA welcomes civil society leaders back to the UN halls underlining the essential role of civil societies in responding to all forms of the humanitarian crisis in the frontline, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UN has closed its offices for visitors since March 10, 2020, due to COVID-19. Though Member states and UN staff have had access to the UN offices for the past several months, civil society has not entered the UN building so far. After 22 months, the CSO members had access to the UN halls and met in person at the United Nations headquarter office in New York. Representing VIVAT International, Paul Rahmat was present in person at the meeting together with hundreds of CSO members worldwide, joining it in person and online.

November 17 will indeed remain a memorable day to all who could attend the Town Hall Meeting. For myself, this is the day I can remember that I could be present in person at the UN events since I came to the United States to serve in the VIVAT Office on March 31, 2021.  

Presidency of Hope

His Excellency Abdulla Shahid outlined his leadership for the 76th  session of the UN General Assembly under the vision of Presidency of Hope. “This is a world in need of unity and solidarity,” he said. “This is a world reeling in the wake of a pandemic that has devastated lives, destroyed economies, and deprived communities. This is a world ripe with inaction, inequality, and injustice, one that ignores the pleas of our planet and the most vulnerable. This is a world that needs a stronger and more effective United Nations, to bring together the best of humanity, rebuild communities, rescue the planet, recover economies and restore hope.”

To address the issues that the world copes with, the PGA Mr. Abdulla Shahid has proposed five priority agendas during his leadership, which he calls “Presidency of Hope.” These include recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),  rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the plan respecting the rights of all, and finally revitalizing the United Nations.

Five representatives of Civil Society Organizations delivered speeches highlighting their efforts to address each of the five priority agendas of the UNGA Presidency of Hope. His Excellency Abdulla Shahid promises that the UN will regularly open for civil society to participate in the UN events as business as usual on January 3, 2022, while continuously taking into account the UN procedures and protocols on the Covid-19 pandemic.