President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to criticize the international body over its lack of leadership during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Bukele argued the organization must reform itself or risk becoming “irrelevant.”
According to Bukele, elected to office last year, his government successfully dealt with the virus by negotiating bilaterally with countries, organizations, and companies.
“This aid has been largely a bilateral effort and not necessarily due to the United Nations system, despite having been created, largely for events like this, existential events for humanity,” said Bukele. “Leadership from this body has been lacking to unite the world and confront this virus in a common front.”
The 39-year-old leader complained that the United Nations had done practically nothing to help deal with the pandemic.
“And it is not only the General Assembly that is close to irrelevance. This year is almost over and we are still suffering the effects of one of the greatest crises in modern human history,” he declared. “And what have we done as United Nations?”
This year it has become so irrelevant that its irrelevance has not even been discussed. For the vast majority of the world’s population it is almost as if it doesn’t exist. Most of the people not only will not see these speeches, but they either don’t even remember that this Assembly exists, or, depending on their age, they never knew it existed.
I want it to change so that it survives, I want it to change so that as humanity we can use this great tool, I want it to change so that all of us together have a hand in changing the world, in the joint destiny of humanity.
The United Nations and other national and international organizations have criticized Bukele for imposing draconian lockdown measures that detractors say violate basic human rights.
“President Bukele acts as if any policy is justifiable to stop the spread of Covid-19, including adopting measures that have led to hundreds of arbitrary arrests,” noted José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch in April. “Security forces need to be subject to strict scrutiny and held accountable if they commit abuses, given their record of past and present serious human rights violations.”
In May, Bukele declared a national state of emergency and then defied the country’s Supreme Court after they ruled the move unconstitutional.
During his speech, Bukele also reflected on the importance of the internet, arguing that despite its growth people still do not understand its potential in dealing with issues such as crime and poverty.
“Never in the history of humanity have we had so many opportunities to be able to do what we want to do, to be honest with ourselves and create what we want to create,” he said. “There is something wrong in this world if millions of people have a supercomputer in their pocket and the problems remain the same.”