Diamond Light
Newsletter of the Aquarian Age Community
2020 No. 1
Index | Back Issues


Update Report on the COVID-19 Appeal for a Global Ceasefire1

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

 

This note provides an update on the responses to my appeal for a Global Ceasefire of 23 March 2020.  It documents the broad international support with which this appeal has been greeted, the response by conflict parties in a number of situations of armed conflict and the efforts on the ground by United Nations representatives and other actors to press forward and try to consolidate fragile advances towards laying down weapons.  While I am pleased to be able to report on these positive signals, they come with a note of caution: it will take time and sustained diplomatic engagement to agree and then maintain ceasefires in settings of deep mistrust.  Underscoring the urgency of our efforts to do so is our shared imperative, at this time of global crisis, to stop the fighting everywhere — now.

I. IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19 ON INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

1. The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest test the world has faced since the formation of the United Nations.  It is a global health crisis that is killing people and spreading human suffering.  It has and will have profound social, economic and political consequences, including relating to international peace and security.

2. As detailed in my report of 31 March on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, the crisis brought on by the pandemic “risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and exacerbating already high levels of inequality within and between countries”.  The postponement of elections or limitations on the ability to vote, sustained restrictions on movement and access to food and other resources, as well as spiraling unemployment and discontent over the capacity of public institutions to respond, may all increase political tensions.  In conflict settings, the uncertainty created by the spread of the pandemic may create incentives for some actors to press their advantage, potentially leading to an increase of violence.  Terrorist groups in particular may see opportunities to strike as the attention of governments and the international community is absorbed by the health crisis.  COVID-19 also risks diverting international attention and resources away from conflict prevention and mediation, when diplomatic engagement is needed most.

3. More immediately, the pandemic has the potential to devastate fragile and conflict- affected states, overwhelming already weak and faltering health systems and assailing the most vulnerable: those caught up in conflicts, refugees and others forcibly displaced by violence and persecution.  As set out in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID-19, the lack of adequate health systems and governance structures, combined with poor basic service in countries already facing humanitarian crisis, will severely constrain these states’ ability to prevent the spread of the pandemic and provide sufficient health care to infected people as well as to sustain health services.  Women and children in fragile settings are particularly likely to face obstacles accessing health care, livelihoods/education and other critical support.  Meanwhile, their needs for pro-tection — including in relation to domestic and gender-based violence — may increase with the imposition of much needed social distancing measures and movement restrictions.

II. APPEAL FOR A GLOBAL CEASEFIRE

4. The severity of the crisis we face in the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the tragedy and folly of the ongoing suffering caused by armed conflict.  On 23 March 2020, I accordingly launched an appeal for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world, urging all warring parties to pull back from hostilities, to put aside mistrust and animosity and to silence their guns as a means to help create conditions for the delivery of aid, to open up space for diplomacy, and bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

5. This appeal for a global ceasefire rests on my belief that the urgency and tragedy of the current moment warrants confidence-building measures between conflict parties to alter their calculations about the benefits of continued fighting.  It is a call for conflict parties to end the scourge of war and fight the virus ravaging our world instead, and for the international community — necessarily focused on our joint battle against the pandemic — to recognize such entry points as they emerge and prioritize efforts to bring armed conflicts to an end.

6. Countries and populations devastated by years of war need our support.  Stopping the fighting will allow those places where coping mechanisms are already at a breaking point to better prepare themselves for what might be coming.  Foremost in our attention must be those who are paying the highest price, including women, children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced….Together, we must work to build more peaceful, resilient and prosperous societies. 


1 The initial call, The Fury of the COVID-19 Virus Illustrates the Folly of War was issued on 23 March 2020:  Video; TEXTThe [Full] Update Report, the source of these excerpts, was issued on April 2, 2020.  As of 24 May 2020, the World Health Organization reported 342, 029 confirmed deaths.To start creating your document, select the desired template using the "Templates" button in the above toolbar.

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