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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

The strong statement delivered at the United Nations’ most powerful body, the Security Council, by UN chief António Guterres

The strong statement delivered at the United Nations’ most powerful body, the Security Council, by UN chief António Guterres

'We are seeing stigma, hate speech, and white supremacists and other extremists seeking to exploit the situation. We are witnessing discrimination in accessing health services. Refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable. And there are growing manifestations of authoritarianism, including limits on the media, civic space and freedom of expression.”

The Secretary-General called the coronavirus pandemic a “significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security – potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”

“This is the fight of a generation -- and the raison d’être of the United Nations itself,” he said.

Guterres outlined eight threats to international peace and security posed by the pandemic:

  1. The further erosion of trust in public institutions.
  2. The economic fallout could create major stressors, particularly in fragile societies, less developed countries and those in transition. Economic instability will have particularly devastating impacts for women, who make up the vast majority of those sectors worst affected.
  3. The postponement of elections or referenda, or the decision to proceed with a vote can create political tensions and undermine legitimacy.
  4. Uncertainty created by the pandemic may create incentives for some actors to promote further division and turmoil in conflict settings.
  5. Terrorist groups may see a window of opportunity to strike while the attention of most governments is turned towards the pandemic.
  6. The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bioterrorist attack might unfold – and may increase its risks.
  7. The crisis has hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most.
  8. The pandemic is triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges.

Regarding that fairly all-encompassing eighth point, he said:

'We are seeing stigma, hate speech, and white supremacists and other extremists seeking to exploit the situation. We are witnessing discrimination in accessing health services. Refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable. And there are growing manifestations of authoritarianism, including limits on the media, civic space and freedom of expression.”

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