This Month in the Security Council – April 2020
For the month of April, 2020, the work of the Security Council was conducted remotely via the United Nations’ Video-Teleconferencing (VTC) system. Despite the lockdown policies implemented in response to COVID-19, all Council members telecommuted in order to satisfy Article 28 of the UN Charter which stipulates that the Council “shall be so organized as to be able to function continuously.”
1. COVID-19: The pandemic was the primary feature of the work of the Security Council during the month, affecting its working methods, and featuring in all discussions on the Council’s agenda. At a VTC meeting dedicated to this topic, SVG highlighted that the pandemic, the likes of which we have not experienced in over a century, is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today with far reaching social, political, economic, health, and security implications. We emphasized that now, more than ever, all states must put their narrow economic self-interests and political agendas aside in order to fashion a coordinated international response to the pandemic including by enforcing the UN Secretary General’s calls for an immediate global ceasefire. We also called for an immediate end to all unilateral coercive economic measures (sanctions) that serve to undermine, rather than facilitate cooperation, including but not limited to those imposed on African countries.
2. Mali: A joint statement was delivered by His Excellency Abdou Abarry, the Permanent Representative of Niger on behalf of the African members of the Council and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (A3+1) on this topic. Our delegation contributed significantly to the formulation of this statement and promoted language to reiterate that development and sustained security are interconnected and inextricable. The A3+1 encouraged the authorities of Mali and the United Nations Integrated Mission for the Stabilization of Mali (MINUSMA) to pay due attention to the sustainable development aspects of the peace agreement in the country.
3. Western Sahara: Our delegation highlighted that there is no easy fix to the current crisis but emphasized that an imposed solution will not guarantee lasting peace and stability in the region. We reiterated our support to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and suggested that the African Union also has a meaningful contribution to make in advancing the peace process. We welcomed all serious and credible efforts to achieve a final solution to this dispute and reiterated that the only solution to the conflict is through peaceful negotiations.
4. Colombia: For the first time in the Security Council, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines delivered a joint statement on behalf of the A3+1. Our delegation highlighted that the peace process is at a critical stage, and neither the Colombians, nor the people of Latin America and the Caribbean region, can afford for this process to relapse. The A3+1 reaffirmed its support to the government and people of Colombia in their pursuit of lasting peace, as well as to the UN Verification Mission and country team to assist with the comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement. We also emphasized the importance of all parties to remain committed to the peace agreement in order for all communities to benefit, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Yemen: Our delegation highlighted that COVID-19, and its far-reaching consequences, adds another layer of complexity to the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Yemen’s infrastructure has been devastated during the years of conflict, making it extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of the pandemic; in this regard, we encouraged cooperation between all relevant national agencies and the WHO to contain the spread and stressed the need for regional and international collaboration in this shared fight. We welcomed the WHO’s efforts in building the capacity of intensive care units in hospitals as well as the training of healthcare personnel across Yemen.
6. Conflict-Induced Hunger: Our delegation emphasized that while humanity grapples with the immense challenges of COVID-19 as well as the ever-growing Climate crisis, our fight against hunger and acute food insecurity persists. We highlighted the our efforts to eradicate hunger in SVG through our “Zero Hunger Trust Fund” and proposed that a similar trust fund initiative should be implemented under the auspices of the World Food Programme (WFP) to cover budgetary shortfalls that stymie the assistance offered to conflict-affected and food insecure populations. We further highlighted that the recent announcement of the WFP to cut food aid to some parts of Yemen in half due to reductions in donor support is an absolute tragedy, and emphasized that people-centred solutions are needed if we are to effectively end hunger by 2030.
7. Israel/Palestine: We commended the solidarity and support between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and urged both parties to continue to enhance their cooperation. At the same time, we highlighted that the continuation of illegal settlement activity and threats of annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory poses a serious challenge to the internationally agreed two-state solution. Our delegation emphasized that the needs of all parties must be adequately addressed and imposed solutions will not work as the two-state solution remains the most coherent framework for the peace and security of both Israel and Palestine, as well as for the stability and prosperity of the wider region.
Our delegation continued to work closely in the “A3+1” configuration alongside our African brothers and sisters on the Council, including by collaborating on issues regarding the African Great Lakes Region, and the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Thematic areas, such as the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, as well as the Security Council’s response to COVID-19 also featured in the agenda. Meetings scheduled to discuss Syria’s humanitarian situation and political process would have taken place by the time of publication. A Security Council resolution addressing the pandemic is currently being negotiated.
Please visit svg-un.org for the full text of all statements and other updates.