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Background & Objectives

In his vision statement “Presidency of Hope: Delivering for People, for the Planet and for Prosperity”, the President of the General Assembly (PGA), in addition to laying out his “Five Rays of Hope”, highlighted that he will work on building trust and cohesion with Member States, the Secretariat, United Nations major groups and international organizations.

The PGA has further asserted that a more effective and responsive United Nations will require engagement with an array of relevant stakeholders, including civil society, businesses, philanthropic organizations, academia, the scientific community, and other partners on the key issues under discussion in the General Assembly.


The Town Hall Meeting will be held in person on Wednesday, 17 November 2021, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters in New York. The meeting will be webcast live on UN WebTV. The event will consist of an opening statement by the President of the General Assembly, followed by five short keynote statements from civil society representatives that will address the “Five Rays of Hope” of PGA76. The floor will then be opened for interventions and questions from civil society representatives.


Civil society representatives are invited to attend the meeting in the GA Hall in person.

Due to pandemic-related restrictions at UN Headquarters, all in-person participants are required to register here no later than 9 November. Entry to the GA Hall will be by Special Event tickets distributed at the Visitors’ Entrance (46th Street and First Avenue) immediately prior to the event on 17 November 2021. Attendance will be limited to the first 400 people to register. By registering to attend in-person, all participants attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Keynote statements on the “Five Rays of Hope” may be delivered in person or by pre-recorded video. To register an interest in delivering a keynote statement, please fill in the online form here no later than 9 November. Civil society representatives will be selected taking into account geographical and gender balance, as well as thematic diversity.

To ensure a wider participation from all geographical regions, civil society representatives will also have the opportunity to submit pre-recorded questions. Due to time constraints, remarks will be limited to 2 minutes. Please register your interest in submitting a pre-recorded question here no later than 9 November.

Maher Nasser
Maher Nasser Director, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications

Mr. Maher Nasser has over 30 years of work experience in the United Nations System during which he has worked in various capacities in Gaza, Jerusalem, Amman, Cairo, Vienna and New York. In the last six years, Mr. Nasser was appointed three times as Acting Under-Secretary-General in charge of the Department of Global Communications. Mr. Nasser took up his current position as Director of DGC’s Outreach Division in February 2011. He first joined DGC in January 2006 as Director of the UN Information Centre in Cairo. Before joining DGC, Mr. Nasser worked in various positions with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza, Jerusalem, Vienna, Amman and New York. From 1992 to 1994, he worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. Prior to joining the United Nations, Mr. Nasser worked with two Jerusalem-based NGOs focusing on development and human rights. Mr. Nasser also attended the Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991 and the subsequent bilateral negotiations in Washington DC as the personal assistant to Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi, the Head of the Palestinian Negotiating Team.  Maher Nasser holds a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Bir Zeit University in Palestine and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Warwick in the UK.

Welcome remarks
President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Abdulla Shahid is widely recognized as an exceptional politician and a seasoned diplomat, with a long and distinguished career serving in both the Government and legislature of Maldives.

Since his appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2018, for the second time, Mr. Shahid has worked incessantly to reposition Maldives as a responsible and respected member of the international community, by renewing previously strained relationships and building new ones, both in the bilateral and the multilateral domains. He has reinvigorated the country’s efforts in the multilateral arena and led national efforts to rejoin the Commonwealth after a four-year hiatus.

Maldives also won the bid to host the 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games, after tireless lobbying efforts conducted under the leadership of Mr. Shahid. The Games will be the first-ever international multisport competition held in Maldives.

As a strong advocate for gender equality, he is credited with achieving gender parity among the country’s diplomatic Heads of Missions for the first time, as well as in the country’s foreign service.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr. Shahid has been one of the leading voices in the international arena highlighting the devastation caused by the global health crisis on the economies and societies of small island developing States. He has continuously drawn attention to the inherent economic vulnerabilities of small island developing States to external shocks and their limited ability to bounce back from disasters.

  • Introductory remarks by moderator, Mr. Maher Nasser, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications both arrive at the General Assembly Hall. Mr. Nasser
  • Opening statement by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid
  • Remarks by keynote speakers from Civil Society Organizations:
      • FIRST RAY – RECOVERING FROM COVID-19 – Mr. Mandeep Tiwana (South Africa), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
      • SECOND RAY – REBUILDING SUSTAINABLY – Ms. Neo Monwela (Botswana), Volunteers Network for Global Change Association & Botswana Green Crescent
      • THIRD RAY – RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF THE PLANET- Ms. Kehkashan Maushum Basu (Canada), Green Hope Foundation,
      • FOURTH RAY – RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF ALL –Ms. Mabel Bianco (Argentina), Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM), Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Coordinating Mechanism
      • FIFTH RAY- REVITALIZAING THE UNITED NATIONS –Mr. Radzhiv Valiev (Russian Federation), Sail of Hope.
  • Discussions and questions
  • Closing statement by the President of the General Assembly