World

Virus threatens global peace, security: UN

By AAP Newswire

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the United Nations Security Council that the coronavirus pandemic is threatening international peace and security, "potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease".

The UN's most powerful body, which has been silent on COVID-19 since it started circling the globe sickening and killing tens of thousands, issued its first brief press statement on Thursday after the closed meeting.

It expressed "support for all efforts of the secretary-general concerning the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected".

Guterres, who called for a ceasefire for all global conflicts on March 23, said the crisis has "hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most".

He cited other pressing risks to global security from the pandemic: terrorists seeing an opportunity to strike, groups seeing how a biological terrorist attack might unfold, the erosion of trust in public institutions, economic instability, political tensions from postponing elections or referenda, uncertainty sparking further division and turmoil in some countries, and COVID-19 "triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges".

The secretary-general reiterated that the United Nations faces "its gravest test" since the organisation was founded 75 years ago from the pandemic and concluded saying, "This is the fight of a generation - and the raison d'etre of (the reason for) the United Nations itself."

The UN chief said the engagement of the Security Council will be "critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic".

"A signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time," he added.