Pandemics and security – Security Council Open Debate (2 July 2020)

High-level open debate of the Security Council on the theme “Pandemics and security”.

Global health risks, such as pandemics and epidemics, can become a threat to international peace and security. Striking examples of epidemics turning into global health risks include the epidemics of severe acute respiratory syndrome, HIV/AIDS and Ebola virus disease. In the case of Ebola, the Security Council determined in its resolution 2177 (2014) that the outbreak constituted a threat to international peace and security and undermined the stability of the most affected countries, possibly leading to further instances of civil unrest, social tensions and the deterioration of the political and security climate.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with more than 400,000 victims to date, has become a global public health emergency and has challenged global cooperation, including in the framework of the United Nations.

So far, the most immediate impact of COVID-19 on conflict settings has been a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. For instance, in Yemen, the virus is spreading throughout the country and overwhelming an already failing health-care system. In addition, ongoing ceasefire negotiations of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen are further complicated owing to the uncoordinated response to the outbreak.

In the mid and long term, there is reason to be concerned about the far-reaching economic and social consequences of COVID-19, which are likely to have an impact on political stability in many countries. The pandemic is in fact exacerbating root causes of armed conflict: unemployment, inequalities, social stigma and distrust in State institutions. These are all strong possible indicators of emerging or prolonged violence.

The meeting will be chaired by Heiko Maas, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany.

The following speakers have been invited to give briefings:

• António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (to be confirmed)
• Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (to be confirmed)
• Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union (to be confirmed)

Concept note (S/2020/571):

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