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Oxfam reaction to President Biden's address to the UN General Assembly

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In response to President Biden’s first address to the United Nations General Assembly, Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America, made the following statement:

“Today, President Biden recommitted the United States to a policy of principled internationalism, a hallmark of American foreign policy in years past. His rhetoric rekindled the possibility — and hope — that nations can work together to solve the problems they can’t solve alone, but without bold action to back up this vision, his words may ring hollow for many around the world. Now, he must walk the talk.

“President Biden reaffirmed his belief that the US leads best ‘not through the example of our power, but the power of our example.’ This principle is more powerful and more important than ever, but it speaks less to where we are and more to where we need to go.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread across a mostly unvaccinated world, the climate crisis wreaks havoc on the world’s poorest, and refugees seeking protection at the US border are cruelly sent back to the dangers they have fled, ‘the power of our example’ must inspire action and change that will solve these challenges, not complacency.

“President Biden declared that our collective priorities should be to ‘save lives, vaccinate the world and build back better.’ In this global pandemic, there are no silver bullets, but bringing about a people’s vaccine can deliver against those important goals. That’s why at his COVID Summit tomorrow, President Biden must rally world leaders to end existing vaccine monopolies, waive intellectual property rules, mandate the sharing of vaccine technologies and know-how, invest in manufacturing capacity in developing countries as well as in research and development, and reallocate existing vaccine doses as soon as possible.

“In the face of the climate crisis, we welcome President Biden’s commitment to double the US’s existing international climate finance pledge. International climate finance is critical to a just and adequate global response to climate change and in many circumstances, in many countries, it is what makes climate action possible. This is a positive step to support the world’s most vulnerable communities, but we must ensure this finance is additional to development aid, aligns with the priorities of local communities, and is flexible enough to meet their needs. It is also crucial that at least 50% of this pledge is dedicated to adaptation initiatives.

“We also welcome President Biden’s newly announced $10 billion to fight hunger, which must now be coupled with a concrete plan to urgently support frontline organizations, reach the most vulnerable people who need aid now, and tackle the root causes of the hunger crisis. Unrelenting conflict on top of the COVID-19 economic fallout, and a worsening climate crisis, has pushed more than 520,000 people to the brink of starvation. Right now, an estimated 11 people are dying from hunger every minute. This is yet another threat that we can – and must – tackle together.

“President Biden is intent on reassuring the world that ‘America is back,’ and we hope to see this return as a step towards tackling the truly existential crises we all face and must address collectively.

“The devastating health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the scale of the refugee crisis, the perils of climate change, and the fight against poverty and inequality demand a fitting global response and bold US leadership.”

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