Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, during the closed VTC of Security Council Member-States on COVID-19
I would like to start by not only thanking SG for this briefing, but also by commending him for his leadership that he demonstrated at the face of pandemic.
While SC and GA were still discussing how to continue working in these new and unprecedented circumstances, SG was raising his voice calling for cooperation and solidarity, in particular by issuing his report “Shared Responsibilities, Global Solidarity: Responding to the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19”.
Formally a pandemic is not the agenda of the Security Council. But it may affect the way we operate and adopt decisions. It has already. Besides, it’s a warfare. Warfare against an invisible enemy. To win against it and to overcome its consequences we need also to overcome our prejudices, phobias, hatreds, distrust, suspicions.
COVID-19 has affected the lives of almost every citizen on the planet. Not a single state, no matter how powerful and wealthy it is, has all tools to fight the pandemic. Everyone had to introduce drastic measures that can be harmful for national economy, to contain the epidemic. No one has the vaccine and efficient treatment so far.
Every crisis is not only a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. We now must feel even stronger the necessity to work together and coordinate global response to such situations. It’s not the time for contests who did what and who was more successful than others. It’s not the time for blaming and finger pointing. It’s time to help, to share experiences and to listen to each other and find ways to work together.
We are convinced that the response to this global threat should also be global. It would be a mistake to fragment and lock measures within our national borders. UN must play a pivotal role here. It is important that we all support WHO as the main specialized UN agency, help it to coordinate global measures and listen to its recommendations.
G20 should play the same role in terms of economic agenda, help us establish common framework for economic responses to resuscitate world economy after the shock caused by the pandemic.
It’s also time for solidarity regardless of political agendas and preferences. Developing countries face enormous challenges and should be assisted first and formost. UN is the best platform to coordinate such assistance. In this context we call on everybody to lift all non-UN multilateral or unilateral coercive measures and sanctions against developing countries. We can’t help with one hand and harm with another.
To say that the pandemic would not affect the maintenance of international peace and security would be simply wrong. The necessity to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak affects the ability of the states to fight international terrorism. On the other hand, conflicts undoubtedly hamper the capacities of national governments to tackle the health crisis and provide relief to the population. With that in mind the ceasefire initiative by SG is really timely.
The COVID-19 outbreak has also significant impact on the performance of UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions and ability to effectively deliver their mandates due to the fact that cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in all Host States. Under these unprecedented circumstances, it is of utmost importance to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers and undertake appropriate measures which will allow to continue effectively implement the mandates of the missions and at the same time reduce the risk of the spread of virus inside the missions. Support to Host States in their response to COVID-19 could be provided, where possible, within the respective mandates and upon the request of national governments. We appreciate the efforts of the Secretariat in this direction and wish to emphasize the importance of close collaboration with Troop- and Police Contributing Countries on any steps in this regard.
Time to draw conclusions and learn lessons from the current crisis has not yet come. So let’s not rush at that. But it will arrive. And that will be a test of our maturity, individual, national.