By Saddia Mazhar
Islamabad, April 14 (newsin.asia): It might sound callous in these difficult times, to speak of “opportunities” emerging from the coronavirus COVID-19. But when I survey newspapers’ front pages, and find fragile states emerging from war or from economic collapse, I see possibilities of what scholars call “positive peace” following an pandemic.
As the world’s privileged nations like the United states , UK, China and others cope with the COVID pandemic by using on-line communication and working from home, mllions of people are facing a grim challenge to keep body and soul together. They are packed into make-shift settlements or camps in war-torn or fragile states like Syria, Afghanistan and Yamen.
Stronger international response to the coronavirus pandemic has not been forthcoming due to great-power rivalries. The economically powerful Group of 20 nations and international financial institutions have made a start buoying up the world’s economy. But other multilateral forums are mired in stasis. The U.N. Security Council should act to control 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 now begun to badly affect the poor and under developed countries states. Poor governance and weak social contracts disable them from resolving internal conflicts peacefully. Lack of testing may be underreporting COVID 19’s widespread 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. There are countries where a family of six to eight individuals lives in a single room with no sanitation worth the name. The governments of such countries have to cope-up with hunger, poverty and inflation besides Covid-19 with almost no economic resources.
As with climate change and any other catastrophies, the world’s poor, and those displaced by warfare, will suffer and die in great proportions.
The world’s premier multilateral bodies like G20 , WHO ,IMF , WORLD BANK must urgently broaden and follow-through on their commitments in the hope of rescuing 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 of the virus.
The United States should not get involved in any conflict with the WHO about its functioning and funding as that will take away attention from helping the vulnerable across the world. Countries could share information and research on 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 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 UN should apply pressure for ceasefire in conflict areas, urge member states to coordinate production of critical medical matériel, encourage countries to stop producing weapons and convert weapons factories in to medical facilities.
Most importantly, action from key multilateral bodies will reinforce the necessity of international cooperation to address a generational 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 pandemic, the time for concerted international action is now. COVID-19 is an opportunity for humans to come closer and use every possible means for the survival of mankind on mother earth.
Nature has given us a great opportunity to rethink our approach towards the use of technology and the mind. Hence, instead of getting demoralized we should take Covid-19 as nature’s test of our capabilities and strive to come out with flying colors.