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Russia and Ukraine are now on board with the critical subject of road safety thanks to deft UN diplomacy

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Russia, Ukraine, and other Western nations came together at the UN for the first time ever to agree on a crucial meeting regarding road safety, thanks to the diplomatic skill of Indian diplomat Nagraj Naidu and UNGA President Abdulla Shahid.

Ambassador Naidu oversaw the informal intergovernmental consultations while serving as Chef de Cabinet to UNGA President Abdulla Shahid.

The political declaration will be adopted during a high-level meeting on road safety that the UNGA will hold in New York from June 30 to July 1. It is being billed as the most anticipated event of the 76th General Assembly session.

“These very testing times, to have member states rise above their differences and establish consensus on a very critical matter such as road safety is nothing but the triumph of multilateralism,” UNGA President Abdulla Shahid said in a speech to WION.

The meeting and the approval of the political statement were on the verge of falling apart against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The co-facilitators of the road safety process were Russia and Cote d’Ivoire. The US, Canada, New Zealand, and the EU, along with Japan and South Korea, requested that the President of the General Assembly remove the Russian delegate from his position as one of the co-facilitators of the process.

The WEOG nations declined to discuss any parts of a draft text that had previously been utilized by Cote d’Ivoire and Russian co-facilitators.

He said, “As President of the General Assembly, I had a responsibility to provide a political declaration for the High-Level Meeting on Global Road Safety when the road safety process led by the cofacilitators – Russia and Côte d’Ivoire — reached a deadlock.”

Although the Member States have different opinions on several topics, he continued, “I have dubbed my Presidency the “Presidency of Hope” and I am strong of the opinion that it is always possible to bring everyone together.

When the process was returned to him, he declared, “I gave the Member States my word that my Office would oversee a transparent procedure and present a political proclamation that would be succinct and action-oriented.”

He remarked, emphasizing how all parties were brought together: “We just had a little more than two weeks to produce an ambitious political statement. This is a win for multilateralism, he said, “because we achieved exactly what we set out to do in the most sincere of ways. Together, we can always do well.”

In the General Assembly, it would have been unwise to remove Russia as a co-facilitator. According to the procedure, no President of the General Assembly had ever dismissed a co-facilitator due to objections raised by member nations.

There was no progress made on the process during the impasse. On the draft text submitted by the Russian and Cote d’Ivoire co-facilitators, even the “silent process” was quickly broken.

The member states had given up on the possibility that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine would prevent the adoption of a political declaration on road safety, which is a wholly non-political process.

However, once President Shahid decided to have his Chef de Cabinet, Ambassador Naidu, lead the intergovernmental consultations on the political declaration, a fresh draft text was quickly disseminated around the member states.

It was made sure that the “quiet” on the text would not be broken before 6 p.m. on June 27 by holding only three casual meetings and conducting numerous skillful discussions behind the scenes with important delegations, including Russia and Ukraine.

The UN will strive to take action on the issue during the summit on road safety. On June 30, the Assembly is anticipated to endorse the political declaration in the morning. The future of mobility, one that supports health and wellbeing, will be the main topic of the proclamation. In an effort to maintain momentum, the political declaration also calls for the holding of a follow-up meeting on road safety in 2026.

In addition, beginning on Thursday morning, a flower arrangement will be on display in the General Assembly foyer in honor of everyone who has lost their life due to traffic accidents around the world. The flowers will be accessible through Friday night.

Road traffic accidents are the greatest killer of children and young people globally, resulting in an estimated 50 million injuries and about 1.3 million avoidable fatalities per year. Nine out of 10 fatal car accidents happen in low- and middle-income nations. A cyclist or pedestrian makes up one of the four.

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