Civil society is looking to the High-level Meeting on Road Safety in New York in June 2022 with an equal sense of excitement and hope. The Second Decade of Action for Road Safety has started, with its Global Plan in place, and the Supporting Event for the High-level Meeting in December 2021 has built high expectations that the High-level Meeting will be an important milestone in the global effort to reduce the unacceptable number of people killed on our roads, every minute, every day and every year. We hope that the High-level Meeting will set the stage for real leadership, allocation of resources and implementation of actions to meet this objective.

However, the disastrous war in Ukraine gives us cause for great concern with regards to the chances of ensuring successful negotiations of the High-level Meeting Declaration. It appears very likely that a large number of United Nations Member States will be reluctant to engage in a dialogue led by the Russian Mission to the UN and that we will lose the opportunity to negotiate a powerful and unifying text that is so critically needed to give momentum to the Second Decade of Action.

For more than a decade the Russian Federation had been playing a constructive and leading role at the United Nations on the Global Road Safety agenda. Yet through its invasion of Ukraine, which has received condemnation by the majority of the UN General Assembly, Russia has forfeited any credibility to lead on a major issue of global public health. We urge the Russian Federation to voluntarily step aside from its current negotiating role. As an alternative it could be considered that Sweden could share this responsibility with Cote D’Ivoire, given its success in hosting the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm in February 2020.

We must find a way forward. Without it, we are concerned that the vital opportunity to make a real change for road safety that will save the lives of many thousands of people around the world every year may be missed.