Jakarta. The Covid-19 pandemic could do damage to the international peace and security as it has raised the fragility of conflict-ridden countries -- some of them are very close to falling back into crisis, the Indonesian foreign minister told a UN Security Council debate on Wednesday.
“Many unresolved conflict drivers may add to the heightening of tensions -- from inequalities to weak governance, from rampant poverty to poor health infrastructures, and from collapsing economies to food shortages,” Retno Marsudi said in a virtual debate on “sustaining peace in the post-pandemic world”.
“This unprecedented disruption may reverse years of peacebuilding efforts that have been made,” she added.
Indonesia holds presidency of the 15-member council for the month according based on the alphabetical order of member states.
Retno, who chaired the session, said the pandemic requires UN peacekeepers to adopt new skill in mediating conflicts on the ground, including by addressing “unequal access to public health goods and Covid-19 treatments in conflict-affected countries”.
“It is imperative for us to continue supporting these countries in conflict to take a holistic approach in addressing the inter-linkages -- between health crisis and its implications and from socio-economic to peace and security,” she said.
Retno also called on the Security Council to pursue “the full implementation of Resolution 2532”, which was adopted in July from an appeal by Secretary-General António Guterres for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic.
The Security Council Resolution 2532 calls on a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations.
Guterres was also present as the briefer during the Wednesday’s teleconference, along with his predecessor Ban Ki-moon.
The Secretary-General began his briefing by extending appreciation to Indonesia for convening the open debate on a highly relevant topic as Covid-19 continues to rage on in most parts of the world, including regions where tensions are high.
“The concept of sustaining peace is essentially about positive peace as opposed to simply ending wars. In other words, it is the idea that the international community accompanies a country well beyond the point of simply putting down guns to the point where people feel protected and represented,” Guterres said.
“But the unprecedented challenges from Covid-19 clearly risk pushing things in the wrong direction. As I highlighted in my previous briefings to the Council, the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated communities and economies throughout the world, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable the most.”
He shares Retno’s view that the pandemic threatens not only hard-won development and peacebuilding gains, but also risks exacerbating conflicts or fomenting new ones.
“Questions are growing about the effectiveness of health systems, social services, trust in institutions and systems of governance,” he said.
“All of this means that our commitment to sustaining peace is more urgent than ever.”
More than just a health crisis, the pandemic could erode faith in governments and public institutions in many countries, making them more vulnerable to new conflicts, he said.
It also caused the destabilization of the global economic order that could further trigger inequalities, global poverty and the potential for instability and violence for years.
In the political spectrum, the pandemic has forced at least 23 countries to postpone national elections or referenda, he added.
Guterres noted that his appeal for a global ceasefire earlier had prompted positive responses from governments and non-state actors across the globe.
“The world is looking to all leaders -- including the Council -- to address this epic crisis in ways that make a concrete, meaningful and positive contribution to the lives of people. It is our responsibility to deliver,” he said.