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COVID-19 Crisis: The Group of 77 Call for Strengthening South-South and North-South Cooperation

Applause for UN Chief’s Leadership While Missing Out His ‘Global Ceasefire’ Plea

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – Short of referring to the clarion call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on March 23 for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”, in support of the bigger battle against the devastating pandemic, the Group of 77 (G77) has in a statement congratulated him for his “strong leadership in this time of crisis” and welcomed the launch of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund “to strengthen health systems and assist vulnerable populations across the globe”.

The Fund underpins the UN’s coordinated multi-agency and multi-sectoral approach to addressing the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis at the national and local levels. In this connection, the G-77 calls for “greater sharing of information and technology for the detection, prevention, treatment and control of the pandemic”.

The “global ceasefire” proposed by the UN Chief would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus which first emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and has now been reported in more than 180 countries. So far, there are nearly 1.3 million cases worldwide, including 72,776 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The statement on April 3 by the G-77 and China on the pandemic threatening all of humankind salutes “the dedicated and hard-working healthcare professionals, medical researchers racing to develop vaccines and treatments, and other frontline workers around the world, who are bearing the brunt of the response to the current health crisis”.

The largest single grouping in the UN, the Group of 77 and China commends those Governments that have swiftly implemented measures to combat the spread of the disease. It calls on those that have not yet done so to take urgent steps in this direction. The Group is particularly concerned by the immediate and longer-term impacts of the disease on developing countries and commends those donor partners and institutions that have initiated special measures to assist developing countries in their efforts to combat the pandemic.

The 135-nation Group welcomes the “Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit” Statement on COVID-19 emerging from the videoconference from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 26. It emphasises the G20 commitments to safeguard the global economy and support developing countries amidst the pandemic. “We also commend the solidarity and cooperation among developing countries, within the framework of South-South cooperation, in contributing to the efforts to confront the pandemic,” says the statement.

The G-77 and China also welcomes the announcements by various heads of United Nations Funds, Programmes and Agencies of measures to provide immediate and longer-term assistance to developing countries for addressing the human and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

“The pandemic and the challenges posed by climate change and other development obstacles together serve to underscore the urgency of the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development and the importance of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, as an opportunity for reflection and recalibration of our efforts.

“We are undoubtedly at a decisive juncture. Many of our member countries are confronted by debilitating economic uncertainties, including severe fiscal and foreign exchange constraints, amidst the inevitable slowdown in global economic growth. Now more than ever, our global community must remain focused on accelerating the implementation of the people-centered 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” says the Group of 77 and China.

The Group rightly accentuates that ending global poverty and leaving no one and no country behind now require tangible action, including the acceleration of efforts to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

“To that end, our efforts must be redirected to the immediate challenge of strengthening our collective action to combat the pandemic using effective strategies,” says the Group and adds: “We call upon the international community to take coordinated and effective measures to maintain the stability of global financial markets and supply chains, including by cutting tariffs and removing trade barriers, particularly for pharmaceuticals and health supplies, in order to facilitate the unfettered flow of trade and promote global economic recovery.”

The Group also calls on the international financial institutions to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on developing countries, through greater flexibility in assessing their fiscal situation and through use of appropriate financial instruments.

The April 3 statement appreciates the WHO for its leading role in coordinating pandemic preparedness and response and encourage it to also take the lead in developing a strategy to ensure that Governments have adequate supplies of essential medical equipment to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its impacts.

The statement also calls on national governments and local authorities to engage their publics in the effort to stem the spread of the disease and we appeal for greater coordination of these efforts at the regional and international levels, including the sharing of information and data in real time.

Emphasising yet another critical aspect, the Group of 77 and China considers that at this juncture, the enactment and application of unilateral coercive economic measures will have a negative impact on the capacity of States to respond efficiently, specifically in the acquisition of medical equipment and supplies to adequately treat their populations in the face of this pandemic.

Ultimately, these measures also affect the essential cooperation and solidarity that should prevail among nations, argues the Group and therefore calls upon “the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries”.

The above and the following appear to be alluding to some actions and remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump: “The Group of 77 and China is resolved not to allow any stigmatization or discrimination of States, peoples or individuals in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a time for the international community, developed and developing countries alike, to demonstrate our capability to work together in solidarity to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and to build a community of shared future for humankind.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 07 April 2020]

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IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

Take care. Stay safe in time of Corona.

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