UN Secretary-General António Guterres called Monday for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.” The stark language comes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically altered life in nations the world over, including many engaged in ongoing armed conflicts. The UN leader characterized the virus as a problem faced by all humanity, a common enemy that forces people to putting aside their differences.
“The virus does not care about ethnicity or nationality, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly,” Guterres said in a video speech. “Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable—women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced—pay the highest price.”
On Tuesday the Secretary-General also issued a letter pleading for G20 nations to convene an emergency summit and adopt aggressive measures both to combat the virus and protect the most vulnerable from the economic fallout of the pandemic. “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,” he wrote. At the same time as the UN leader decried the continuation of armed conflict during this fraught moment, he presented the coordinated response to COVID-19 as one requiring “a ‘war-time’ plan in times of human crisis.”
The two statements from the Secretary-General illustrate the urgency of the moment world-wide. Guterres called at once for unprecedented collaboration in suppressing the virus and the imperative of abandoning long-standing fights among peoples and nations. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” Guterres said.
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