At UNSC meet, UN chief Guterres warns of bio-terrorism, social unrest
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the UN Security Council on Thursday 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 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 cease-fire 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 organization was founded 75 years ago from the pandemic and concluded saying: “This is the fight of a generation — and the raison d’être of (the reason for) the United Nations itself.”
Guterres spoke by video conference at a closed council meeting on Covid-19’s impact on the council’s mandate, which is the preservation of international peace and security. It was the first discussion by its 15 ambassadors on the pandemic. While the meeting was closed, the UN spokesman released Guterres’ briefing and a number of ambassadors released their remarks to the media.
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.” He added that “a signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time.”
Diplomats said the Security Council was initially blocked from issuing a statement or adopting a resolution by U.S. insistence that the origin of the virus in China or Wuhan be included, which China objected to, but Belgium’s UN Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, an elected council member, said that was not mentioned on Thursday. He and the nine other elected council members had been pressing for a meeting and succeeded in getting the secretary-general to brief on Thursday.
According to diplomats, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump agreed to organize a video conference of leaders of the five permanent council members, also including China, Russia and Britain, and France wanted that before a council meeting, but it couldn’t be arranged. Meanwhile, the 10 elected members had been pressing for a council meeting and briefing from Guterres — and they had the nine votes needed for it to happen on Thursday.
Pecsteen de Buytswerve said even though the press statement from the council was “very minimal” it is an expression of support for the secretary-general and his call for peace and a cease-fire “and that’s the most important thing at this stage.”
A pair of mobile phones belonging to former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, who recently said he made a video naming all those planning to 'assassinate' him, were stolen in Sialkot, a key aide of the Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman has said.
Centrist politician Elisabeth Borne was appointed France's new prime minister on Monday, becoming only the second woman in history to hold the post. French President Emmanuel Macron's choice of Borne was criticized by some left-wing politicians and their supporters. Macron also promised a bill addressing the rising cost of living in France, where food and energy prices are surging. Macron vowed to go “twice as fast” in his second term to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
An Indian American Democratic body is hosting a “Dream with Ambition” summit gala this week which will be addressed by Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, and Raja Krishnamoorthi -- the four Indian American lawmakers. Organised by the 'Indian American Impact' during the AAPI Heritage Month, the event on Wednesday will bring together more than 300 South Asian American community leaders, philanthropists, celebrities and organisers to celebrate and educate, a media release said.
Karine Jean-Pierre held her first briefing as White House press secretary on Monday, observing that her ascension to the role of President Joe Biden's chief spokesperson broke race and sexual-orientation barriers. The daughter of Haitian parents, she was born in Martinique and raised in New York. Jean-Pierre served as former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki's principal deputy until Psaki's resignation on Friday. Jean-Pierre will be the seventh woman to hold the post.
North Korea has deployed its army as the isolated nation battles a suspicious 'fever,' days after announcing its 'first' Covid-19 case. Even senior members of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful politburo were on the ground, visiting pharmacies and medicine management offices, after leader Kim Jong Un criticised 'ineffective distribution' of drugs, the state Korean Central News Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Overall, 663,910 citizens were under medical treatment.