The spread and unprecedented impact of the new coronavirus has revealed a wide range of vulnerabilities that human society should overcome as a human community. We are concerned that this pandemic poses a threat to the peace and security of humankind, and in order to overcome it, we need to aim at restoring multilateralism and building new global governance for conflict and disaster prevention.
Current Situations and Issues
The global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is presenting enormous challenges all over the world. Though the state of emergency was lifted in Japan, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is still growing in the world; as of June 22, 2020, there have been approximately 8,860,000 cases and approximately 470,000 deaths reported, and these numbers are increasing on a daily basis. This unprecedented crisis unveiled a wide range of vulnerabilities that the human society sharing a common destiny as a whole must overcome together. Despite the aggravation of this pandemic, parties involved in conflicts around the world have yet to accept the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire. Economic depression and unemployment caused by restrictions on human movement and day-to-day activities, city-wide lockdown and border closures have disproportionately affected the socially vulnerable people and increased the risk of further social unrest, violence and conflicts through the growing inequality and discrimination among and within countries. Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan, being deeply concerned about enormous threats of this pandemic to the peace and security of mankind, issues this statement.
Issues to be Addressed by the International Community
This pandemic will continue to attack all countries and their people equally until vaccines are developed and disseminated widely. For the time being, we are forced to adapt to the irreversible societal conditions of so-called “New Normal.” Responses to the pandemic varies by country, region and their citizens, and there is a concern that further poverty, diseases and inequality will allow the seeds of new conflicts and terrorism to emerge and accelerate the world fragmentation. These challenges are brought by not only disputes and conflicts among countries that take advantage of or abuse the pandemic to advance their position in the conflicts, but also the disparity in people’s capability to secure medical treatments, hygiene and digital access that are essential for the safety of people.
It is our concern that this pandemic seriously affects the lives and the rights of socially vulnerable people such as refugees, internally displaced persons, women, children, and the elderly in countries with fragile political situation and security including Africa and Latin America. Moreover, there is no global roadmap to build back better after the disasters aiming at preventing future pandemic and realizing the prosperous future with resilience based on sustainable environment and social and economic development.
Promotion of Global Cooperation
In order to address and resolve the above issues, we must rebuild global partnership and solidarity and restore multilateralism, with a focus on ensuring evidence-based consensus-making and establishing inclusive and humanity-oriented global governance.
Specifically, in the field of peacebuilding, we should accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for the SDGs, which aims to build a human society in which “no one is left behind,” eliminates the root causes of conflicts, and promotes sustainable peacebuilding from the perspectives of conflict and disaster prevention. The UN system including the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to construct a comprehensive system-wide framework for early warning and disaster risk reduction against conflict and multi-hazardous disasters modeled on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Such a framework will help break compartmentalized silos and integrate the existing strategic plans relating to: e.g. disaster risk reduction by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), humanitarian assistance by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)^1, sustainable development system by the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), special political missions by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), and peacekeeping operations (PKOs) by the Department of Peace Operations (DPO).
For the UN system to act as a nucleus of global governance dealing with the pandemic, it must provide an assessment based on scientific evidence and be transparent and accountable for credible institutional activities. Therefore, it needs to secure adequate technical and financial resources from Member States to assist affected countries in locating all Covid-19 patients through systematic immunological/antibody testing and health-condition surveys, disclosing risk information and promoting proactive risk communication with residents in each country. Further, the UN system should focus on international cooperation for vaccine development, production, and dissemination, while pursuing economic recovery paying a sufficient attention to the interests of the minority groups such as those most vulnerable. The international community as a whole must also share various experiences with a view to learning from the experience of this time and preparing for future crises.
Japan’s Role in the Efforts Above
We believe that Japan should play a significant role in building a global system that offers free and inclusive security measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of people around the world from any kind of conflicts and disasters. Thus far, Japan has promoted international cooperation in various fileds with different government and civic organizations, academic groups, and private companies, taking account of the viewpoints and the needs of the people of other countries from the grass-root levels. The sincere relationship that Japan has built with the international community so far will effectively work for globally developing measures against infectious diseases that need to be supported by each citizen’s awareness and discipline. Japan should play a leading role in the global cooperation under the current situation, where many counties and regions are exhausted from the fight against this pandemic and tend to prioritize the interests of their own countries. In particular, Japan should involve young people who will lead the next generation and promote cooperation for this purpose.
Our Aspiration as the Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan
Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan will widely inform the public of our views as the practitioners and academics concerning the challenges in peacebuilding under the present situation and their impact on the citizens. Simultaneously, we will be committed to promoting inclusive dialogues aimed at establishing new global governance in cooperation with numerous domestic and external stakeholders who have the aspiration for peacebuilding.
^1… On March 28, 2020, the UN Secretary General advocated the UN’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan through the OCHA’s global appeal. Its latest version published on May 7, 2020 covers humanitarian-assistance activities of all UN-system organizations including the WHO in 63 fragile countries. The Plan requires 6,690 million dollars for the activities at the emergency phase (from April to December 2020) of WFP, UNICEF, UNDP and other UN humanitarian entities. Besides this, the DPPA has a Strategic Plan with the Multi-Year Appeal (MYA) of 135 million dollars for 2020-2022 that includes expenses for the COVID-19 measures.