Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 15, 2021
Thank you, Commissioner Abeywardena. Greetings, also, to Under-Secretary-General Flemming, our performer, and our New York City Junior Ambassadors. On behalf of the U.S. Mission to the UN, I want to thank you and the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs for bringing our diplomatic community together here this morning for a moment of reflection and to honor victims of COVID-19.
In a typical year, the diplomatic community’s work is hard. During a pandemic, and with all the other challenges we faced in 2020, hard doesn’t begin to describe it.
This community has played a pivotal role in the global response to COVID. And in a time of great need, the diplomatic community stepped up. You provided PPE to this city, you made contributions to local charities, and you donated your time. You have been at the forefront of this global response at a time when you were also concerned for, and perhaps separated from, family members living thousands of miles away. And we thank you. As a New Yorker, I thank you.
One year later, we know that this pandemic has left no network, no family, no community untouched. We mourn the lives lost — including the first responders, the essential workers, those in our governments and in our UN diplomatic community here in New York, where we were hit hard — and to the countless families suffering with grief. And we know that beyond the lives tragically lost to COVID-19, millions of people around the globe continue to struggle with myriad other consequences from this pandemic, from the economic fallout to educational disruptions to the increase in violence against women and children.
These are the challenges the diplomatic community has confronted head-on every single day throughout this pandemic, despite the risks and challenges. We know there is more and important work still to be done, but we can see now a light at the end of the tunnel — we have reason for hope. And we honor those we’ve lost throughout the past year and express our gratitude to those who have courageously stepped up to help our world emerge stronger and more resilient.
The importance of our diplomatic community’s work is clearer than ever. That’s because COVID has crystallized just how interconnected we truly are. There is no one country that will stop this pandemic alone or recover from it alone. So, if we are to recover, build back better, and prepare for the next global disruption — we’d better do it together. The United States is proud to be re-engaging with the WHO and stepping up to fund COVAX to do just that.
In closing, I want to thank again Commissioner Abeywardena, for all she and her team have done this past year to support the diplomatic community, and for providing our diplomatic community this opportunity today for a moment to pay our respects, to reflect, to remember, and to have hope.