UN Secretary-General António Guterres, On Friday, said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for global solidarity and greater international cooperation, stressing that it must be turned into an opportunity for fundamental change.
He made the call through a video message while addressing the Nobel Peace Prize Forum a day after the UN World Food Programme officially received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its life-saving work in assisting to feed millions of hungry people across the globe.
Guterres also reiterated policies he has pressed for as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the globe.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown above all the urgent need for human solidarity. We can only tackle shared threats through shared resolve,” Guterres said.
The Nobel discussion focused on multilateralism and global governance in the aftermath of the pandemic that has affected practically every corner of the world
The ever-growing economic and social fallout means the world is facing the biggest global recession in 80 years, rising levels of extreme poverty, and looming famine.
Based on this, the UN Chief called for a “reset”, adding, “We cannot respond to this crisis by going back to what was, or withdrawing into national shells.
“We need more international cooperation and stronger international institutions.”
It is nearly a year since COVID-19 first emerged in China. Exactly on December 31 2019, the
Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province, after which a novel coronavirus was eventually identified.
Since then, over 68 million cases have been reported globally, including some 1.5 million deaths, according to the latest data from the World Health Organisation.
According to the UN chief, although countries are facing a common enemy, they have not mounted a joint response, and have also been competing against each other for essential supplies and frontline workers.
“We cannot let the same thing happen for access to new COVID-19 vaccines, which must be a global public good”, he stressed.
Days after the pandemic was declared, the Secretary-General issued an appeal for a global ceasefire, urging warring parties to “silence the guns” and focus on fighting the virus.
“I am encouraged by the support this call has received – and by the positive response by governments to my call for peace in homes around the world and an end to violence against women and girls”, he said.
The UN chief also saw other areas for global concern, and emphasised the need for greater global cooperation and governance beyond the pandemic,
While addressing the issue of climate emergency, Guterres spoke about humanity’s “suicidal war on nature”, but he also pointed to “signs of hope”, such as the growing coalition of people pushing for action.
In the meantime, more than 100 countries have committed to achieve carbon neutrality in the next three decades.
27 Member States of the European Union, announced that they had reached agreement to raise their target for CO2 emissions cuts, to 55 per cent by 2030, up from 40 per cent, putting the EU on track to net-zero by 2050.
Guterres said, “Every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050.
“I encourage the main emitters to lead the way by taking decisive decisions now.”
With this year also marking the UN’s 75th anniversary, Guterres said he has been engaging governments, civil society, thought leaders, and others, on how to “reinvigorate” multilateralism.
The UN chief used the time to call on countries to address the inequalities at the foundation of global power relations, so as to achieve a more inclusive and fairer world.
“Multilateral cooperation should be firmly based on the universal values of community, solidarity, equality and humanity; recognizing the fundamental human rights of all and providing opportunities for all,” he said.
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