By Saddia Mazhar
Lahore, May 6 (newsin.asia): It might be dubbed as callousness if in these difficult times one speaks of “opportunities” emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. But when I survey countries which are not on newspapers’ front pages, fragile states emerging from war or from the brink of economic collapse, I see the possibility of what scholars call a “positive peace” coming out of the pandemic.
Positive peace, represents an ambitious and forward looking conceptualization of peace that moves beyond conflict and violence. It creates better economic and societal outcomes, as well as lessening the number of grievances and the levels of violence associated with them.
As the world’s privileged like United states , UK, China and others cope with the COVID pandemic through telework and sheltering at home, millions of people face grim struggles for survival, packed into informal settlements or camps for people already displaced in war-torn or fragile states like Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Governments have missed opportunities for a stronger international response, partly because of great-power rivalries. The economically powerful Group of 20 and international financial institutions have made a start at buoying up the world’s economy. But other multilateral forums are mired in stasis. The U.N. Security Council should get its act together ahead of the pandemic in fragile states and seize the moment to advance peace in some of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
The COVID-19 virus has only begun to badly affect the poor and under developed countries. Bad governance and weak social contracts disable them from resolving internal conflicts peacefully. Lack of testing may be under-reporting COVID’s wide spread in such countries. “Social distancing” is nearly impossible in many countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh where more than 1 billion people live under the poverty line and have to work on a daily basis to earn their bread.
In countries where a family of six to eight individuals lives in a single room with little or no sanitation governments have to cope with hunger, poverty and inflation beside Covid-19. As with climate change and any other catastrophe the world’s poor, and those displaced by warfare, will suffer and die in vastly greater proportions.
Despite the lack of international unity, the world’s premier multilateral bodies like the G20 , WHO ,IMF and , World Bank must urgently broaden and follow-through on their commitments in the hope of being ahead of the crisis in fragile and conflict-affected states.
International leaders could focus attention and resources on the most vulnerable populations and accelerate the World Health Organization’s efforts to steer assistance to countries with weak public health systems and a high propensity for rapid spread. The United States should not get involved in any conflict with WHO about its functioning and funding as it will divert attention from helping the vulnerable across the Third World.
The best way for any country could help others against COVID-19 is to share information and research about the retention and spread of the virus.
The UN Security Council is the world’s primary mechanism for addressing threats to peace and security, with its resolutions carrying the force of international law. It is thus uniquely positioned to steer and augment the international response to COVID-19. It also can seize the momentum from COVID-19 related cease-fires to advance peace processes in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.
Now is the time the UN Should immediately apply pressure for ceasefire in violent conflicts, urge member states to coordinate production of critical medical matériel, encourage countries to stop producing weapons and convert weapon factories into medical facilities.
Most importantly, action from key multilateral bodies will reinforce the necessity of international cooperation to address a serious threat to global peace and security that respects no border, the worst of which we may not have witnessed yet.
With millions of the world’s most vulnerable people facing the coronavirus pandemic, the time for concerted international action is now. COVID-19 is an opportunity for humans to come closer and use every possible means to ensure the survival of mankind.
Nature has given us a great opportunity to rethink our approach towards the use of technology and the mind. Hence instead of being demoralized, we should take COVID-19 as a test of nature through which we have to pass successfully and plan for a peaceful and prosperous future.