Amidst of the mayhem of a global emergency, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was a voice of reason cutting through the havoc. On March 23, responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, Guterres called for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” so countries could work together in a unified effort to combat the virus. Guterres said: “End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”
To issue his appeal, the Secretary-General conducted a “virtual press conference” broadcast over the internet from UN headquarters in New York. The 9 minute video of Guterres’ statement is here. Text of his statement is here.
The Secretary-General’s appeal did not fall on deaf ears. Physicians for Social Responsibility, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), and many of our allied organizations welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative; the global ceasefire is a completely rational response to this medical emergency. On March 24, the National Security Council (@WHNSC) tweeted:
“The United States hopes that all parties in #Afghanistan, #Syria, #Iraq, #Libya, #Yemen, and elsewhere will heed the call of @antonioguterres . Now is the time for peace and cooperation.”
On March 25, The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement about Covid-19 that included this: “We support the respective statement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of March 23.” On March 29, Pope Francis expressed support for the ceasefire.
The next day, 53 nations, including Canada, Mexico, Japan and 24 European nations, issued a joint statement of support for the Global Ceasefire. “We welcome and fully support the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We echo the Secretary-General that it is, ‘time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.’”
The statement and list of 53 nations is available here, at the website of the Iceland diplomatic mission.
Several other countries have since piled on. On April 3, in a progress update, Guterres reported that over 70 UN member countries had endorsed the global ceasefire. But he urged all combatants to actually lay down their weapons, saying: “We need to do everything possible to find the peace and unity our world so desperately needs to battle COVID-19.” World Beyond War is tracking the list of endorsing nations here.
What about the UN Security Council? France has officially endorsed the ceasefire, and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told CNN: “The UK supports the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.” So far, despite initial positive signals, the governments of the Russian Federation and the United States have blocked a binding UN Security Council measure to the ceasefire, citing counter-terrorism concerns. But French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a non-binding security council resolution and he claims to have won support from the U.S. and China.
If you would like to support the Global Ceasefire, contact your U.S. senators here.