UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the U.N. Security Council that the coronavirus pandemic is threatening international peace and security — “potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”
He urged the U.N.’s most powerful body, which has been silent on COVID-19 since it started circling the globe sickening and killing tens of thousands, to unite on tackling the virus, saying its engagement will be “critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic” and “would count for a lot at this anxious time.”
The closed meeting was the first by the council on the pandemic and afterward it issued its first brief press statement expressing “support for all efforts of the secretary-general concerning the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected.”
Guterres said the crisis has “hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most.”
He cited other pressing risks to global security from the pandemic: militants seeing an opportunity to strike, potentially with a biological attack, the erosion of trust in public institutions, economic instability, political tensions from postponing elections, uncertainty sparking further division and turmoil in some countries, and COVID-19 “triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges.”
The secretary-general reiterated that the United Nations faces “its gravest test” since the organization was founded 75 years ago from the pandemic and concluded saying: “This is the fight of a generation — and the raison d’être of (the reason for) the United Nations itself.”
Guterres spoke by video conference at the meeting on COVID-19’s impact on the council’s mandate, which is the preservation of international peace and security. While the meeting was closed, the U.N. spokesman released Guterres’ briefing, and a number of ambassadors released their remarks to the media.
Diplomats said the Security Council was initially blocked from issuing a statement or adopting a resolution by U.S. insistence that the origin of the virus in China or Wuhan be included, which China objected to. Belgium’s U.N. Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, an elected council member, said that was not mentioned on Thursday.