President Joe Biden used his biggest moment so far on the international stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to call on global leaders to take stronger action on Covid-19 and climate change. As he sought to re-establish America’s alliances and role in the international community in his remarks, the President indicated he would lay out a new strategy and commitments to address the coronavirus crisis at a Covid summit led by the U.S., which will focus on vaccinations, treatments, and technologies to help end the pandemic.
The speech, his first as President at the meeting, was at a gathering very different than those in the past, with many world leaders opting to deliver their remarks virtually. President Biden also planned to meet Tuesday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in New York, and with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the evening back at the White House.
The President said that the world stands “at an inflection point in history,” saying that, “to fight this pandemic, we need a collective act of science and political will. Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms,” President Biden said. “Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19, or its future variants.”
Looking to make a clean break from his predecessor’s racially isolating “America First” policies, President Biden repeatedly pledged to work with other nations and to establish the United States as a leader in tackling the challenges facing the planet. “We will lead, we will lead on all the greatest challenges of our time from Covid to climate, peace and security, human dignity and human rights, but we will not go it alone,” President Biden said. “We will lead together with our allies and partners and in cooperation with all those who believe, as we do, that it is within our power to meet these challenges, to build a future that lifts all of our people to preserve this planet.”
It was an honor to address the UN General Assembly this morning. We stand at an inflection point in history, and the United States is committed to working with our allies and partners to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.
We will build a better future — together. pic.twitter.com/M7xAx72PqE
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 21, 2021
President Biden also addressed the issue of counterterrorism and the prospect of competition with other global powers without triggering a new Cold War. There was no mention of China in the 30-minute remarks, though he has identified the country as one of the biggest international threats facing the U.S. “I stand here today for the first time in 20 years and the United States is not at war, we’ve turned the page,” he said. “All the unmatched strength, energy, commitment, will, and resources of our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what’s ahead of us. Not what was behind.”
Biden closes his UN speech with this and gets big applause: "I stand here today for the first time in 20 years with the US not at war. We have turned the page … Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot afford to waste any more time. Let's get to work. Let's make our better future now." pic.twitter.com/qM71Gw8iRj
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 21, 2021
The World Health Organization has called for a “moratorium” on boosters, and other international medical groups have blasted the U.S. for its plans to provide them. Only 20 percent of eligible people in lower-income countries have been at least partly vaccinated, compared to around 80 percent in some of the wealthiest countries, according to the WHO.
President Biden insisted on Tuesday that the U.S. and its allies remain vital partners in confronting dire global challenges. “Our security, our prosperity and our very freedoms are interconnected,” he said at the UN General Assembly. https://t.co/CbqyrOaB8P pic.twitter.com/T5LoiJ8l4h
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 21, 2021
The U.S. has already donated 140 million doses to other nations, and plans to provide another 200 million doses by the end of the year.