UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said global leadership had been lacking in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual news conference in New York, Mr Guterres blamed the situation on “division in the international community.”
He said international cooperation was critical not only in tackling the pandemic but also in addressing its socio-economic impacts.
“It is obvious that there is a lack of leadership”, Mr Guterres said in response to a question on whether he thought global leadership had been adequate given the scale of the pandemic.
“It is obvious the international community is divided in a moment where it is more important than ever to be united.
“There is indeed a problem of leadership but if you want a disconnect between leadership and power.
“We see remarkable examples of leadership but they are usually not associated with power.
“Where we see power we sometimes do not see the necessary leadership,” he stated.
There are growing concerns that the worsening relations between the United States and China is harming international cooperation to combat the pandemic.
Recently, President Donald Trump announced suspension of U.S. funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for allegedly turning a blind eye to China’s “lack of transparency” during the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The U.S. has also shunned a recently launched initiative on global cooperation to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Mr Guterres described the U.S. and China as “two extremely important countries” in the international community from the “economic, political and military dimensions.”
He said their contributions were “absolutely essential” not only in the fight against COVID-19, but also in the development of international relations.
“We need to go on hoping and go on promoting the forms of dialogue that are necessary for an understanding to be established and for countries to be able to come together.”
The UN Chief also spoke on a seeming inactivity by the Security Council which has not adopted a resolution since the start of the pandemic.
Mr Guterres indicated that it would be difficult for the 15-member council to reach a decision in the face of disagreements between the major powers in its membership.
“I think we need to be realistic. The Security Council is a group of countries, and we know that relations between the major powers in the world today is very dysfunctional.
“This makes it difficult for the Security Council to decide, and it makes it difficult in many other areas for international cooperation to work.
“So, what we need is to make sure that we have the capacity of especially the biggest countries in this world to come together and to find ways to reach a consensus.
“This would allow for effective action both in fighting the pandemic and addressing the huge security and peace challenges that we are facing, and at the same time hoping to create the conditions for an effective recovery and for an effective support to the developing countries,” he said.
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