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UN Security Council held a discussion on COVID-19’s potential effect on peace and security at Estonia’s initiative

10. April 2020 - 8:23

Yesterday 9 April, as a result of Estonia’s initiative and pressure from like-minded countries, the UN Security Council held a VTC meeting to discuss the spread of the coronavirus. Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres briefed members on the fight against the pandemic and ways to prevent the crisis from potentially affecting peace and security.

“In the UN Security Council, Estonia has driven the conversation on how the Council should address the rapid spread of the coronavirus and resulting instability that could affect international peace and stability. Yesterday’s meeting was the result of this work and it holds international significance,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said, explaining the background of the meeting.

According to the foreign minister, civilians in crisis areas are in a particularly vulnerable situation. “From a security and humanitarian perspective it is crucial to follow the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire. Whereas the humanitarian situation in, for example, Syria and eastern Ukraine was already very poor before the pandemic, innocent people are now in an extremely precarious situation,” the foreign minister emphasised.

In his statement, Estonian Ambassador Sven Jürgenson highlighted the fact that enormous stress on healthcare systems, economies and societies may subsequently affect peace and security. “The impact of the pandemic underscores the need for all parties to comply with international humanitarian law to protect people in situations of conflict, whose vulnerability is exacerbated by COVID-19. We urge all warring parties to guarantee unimpeded access for humanitarian aid and ensure the safety of humanitarian workers,” he said.

Jürgenson also emphasised that in addition to addressing urgent life-saving humanitarian needs we should prepare for the global socio-economic impact the pandemic will have in the long term. Identifying and overcoming gaps in digital development should be an essential part of any long-term exit strategy.

Estonia’s statement also underscored the continued importance of peacekeeping missions in the current situation. Estonia and other European Union members of the Security Council remain committed to participating in peacekeeping missions. It is also crucial to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the crisis, and pay attention to vulnerable social groups. “We support the Secretary-General’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on women and girls and the call for measures to address the surge in domestic violence,” the Estonian ambassador said.

Members of the Security Council also adopted press elements at the meeting where they expressed their support — for all efforts of — the Secretary-General — concerning — the potential impact of COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries.

Read the full statement of Estonia:
Press elements:

Additional information:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Communication Department

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