UN tallies action so far to fight COVID-19, and road map out of the pandemic

UN has mobilized to save lives, control transmission of the virus and ease the economic fallout, Secretary-General António Guterres said.

NEW YORK — Amid the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN has mobilized to save lives, control transmission of the virus and ease the economic fallout, Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists while speaking at the virtual launch of his report on the organization’s response to the crisis.

Not only does the report outline actions taken since the pandemic was declared, he said, it also offers a road map for building back better through greater global solidarity and unity.

"The pandemic has laid bare severe and systemic inequalities. And it has underscored the world’s fragilities more generally — not just in the face of another health emergency but also the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and the risks of nuclear proliferation again," he said.

The report reveals how the UN has been fighting the battle against COVID-19 on many fronts. Response has been centered around three pillars: human health, recovery, and addressing the socioeconomic, humanitarian and human rights aspects of the pandemic.

Guterres reported that the UN has shipped more than 250 million items of personal protective equipment destined for health workers in over 130 countries.

The organization placed its supply chain network at the service of member states, and established global air hubs which have delivered nearly 70,000 cubic meters of medical goods in the past six weeks alone.

It is also supporting research into the development of an affordable and accessible "people’s vaccine" for the disease and has launched the Verified campaign to tackle "the plague of misinformation" surrounding COVID-19.

"My appeal for a global ceasefire has been endorsed by nearly 180 countries, more than 20 armed groups as well as religious leaders and millions of members of civil society. The difficulty is to implement it," said the secretary-general.

The report was launched Thursday on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter, the founding document of the organization.

This year’s commemoration comes at a time of "colossal global upheaval and risk", as Guterres observed, falling as the pandemic deepens with nearly 10 million cases confirmed, climate disruption, protests over racial injustice, and rising inequalities.

Looking beyond the pandemic, the secretary-general underlined the UN’s strong commitment to leading renewal efforts. "We cannot go back to the way it was and simply recreate the systems that have aggravated the crisis," he stressed. "We need to build back better with more sustainable, inclusive, gender-equal societies and economies."

The secretary general called for effective and inclusive multilateralism. He urged countries to reimagine the ways in which they cooperate, and to draw on the "indispensable contributions" of civil society, business, youth, and others.

"We need to give multilateralism the capacities to confront our challenges, not only to meet immediate needs but to enable future generations to meet theirs." — WAM