PAX and more than 190 organizations have called upon the United Nations Security Council to help realize a global ceasefire in order to combat the coronavirus. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for such a global ceasefire, and over 70 countries have already expressed their support. Now UN Member States must put words into action
To back up their call to action, PAX and the 190 organizations have sent letters to Secretary-General Guterres and to the members of the Security Council calling upon them to combine words and deeds and make a global ceasefire a reality now. PAX further calls on Member States, including the Security Council, to include an international halt in arms transfers in any action plan for implementation of such a global ceasefire.
COVID-19 and armed conflict
The COVID-19 crisis does not take place in a vacuum. Even before the pandemic, the number of refugees around the world was higher than any time since the Second World War. The last decade was one of the most violent since the end of the Cold War, and the global arms trade has been spreading weapons at an unprecedented rate, feeding escalating levels of violence.
In addition, the virus is more greatly impacting those in conflict areas as the measures to necessary to mitigate harm are not nearly as feasible. In Syria and Yemen, hospitals have been deliberately destroyed. Millions of refugees are on the run or are stuck in overcrowded camps. They have little or no access to health care nor facilities for basic hygiene, and suffer from food and medicine shortages. Social distancing is not an option. This means that people affected by armed conflict are extremely vulnerable.
Time for action
PAX fully supports the global ceasefire. In order to make it last and contribute towards sustainable peace, a halt in arms trade is key. This can offer some respite and protection for those who are most vulnerable; by stopping the flow of weapons into conflict areas, countries can give health care workers and those providing humanitarian aid, particularly those who have been targets themselves, a fighting chance.
It is also the time for increased international solidarity for lasting peace. Combatants in Colombia, Cameroon and the Philippines, among others, have taken steps to reduce violence in those countries. Over 70 States have supported the call for a global ceasefire, as has Pope Francis and other faith leaders.
The countries that support the global ceasefire must follow up that support with concrete action, including halting arms transfers originating from within their borders. The members of the UN Security Council came together during the Ebola crisis, the Council must do the same now, and support a ceasefire and a halt to the global arms trade.