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Guterres Launches Report on COVID19 Impact: Solidarity Can Defeat the Virus

Facing the greatest challenge since World War II, “We are as strong as the weakest system," says United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Il Segretario Generale delle Nazioni Unite Antonio Guterres (Foto ONU)

Guterres underlined the need for a global response where developed countries assist the less developed ones. It is extremely important to avoid an uncontrollable spread of the disease in the global South, which would cause millions of deaths and the risk of having the disease re-emerging again in areas where it was previously suppressed.

On March 31st, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres launched the report Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts on Covid-19, in which he tackles the social and economic dimensions of the global crisis. 

“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” said Guterres, and it requires “an immediate coordinated health response to suppress transmission and end the pandemic.”

Guterres emphasized: “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”

In order to face the crisis, governments must act quickly and decisively to prevent the further spread of the virus, they must strengthen the resilience of their health systems, and ensure that vaccines and medicines are available to all. 

As for the policies that need to be promoted, the focus must be on the most vulnerable. Governments need to provide ample social protections, health and unemployment insurance, as well as bolster business in an effort to prevent bankruptcies and job losses. Another area that must be prioritized is debt alleviation, which the UN is planning to support by establishing a new multi-partner Trust Fund for COVID-19 Response and Recovery created specifically to respond to the global emergency and to help economies recover from the shock.

According to multiple UN agencies such as the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD),  socio-economic estimates for 2020 look grim. To tackle this, the report calls for a global response that has to be large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive: at least 10 percent of the global GDP needs to be mobilized in efforts that are innovative and human-centered. 

Governments must resist the temptation of introducing protectionist policies; on the contrary, measures need to be taken to boost economies of developing countries and sanctions on countries should be waived to ensure access to food and essential supplies.

Guterres concludes by reinforcing his message of global cooperation. “What the world needs now is solidarity,” he previously said. “With solidarity, we can defeat the virus and build a better world”.

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