Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council High-Level Open Debate on “Pandemics and the Challenges of Sustaining Peace”
12 August 2020
China welcomes Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi of Indonesia to chair this open debate. I thank the Secretary-General and Mr. Ban Ki-moon for their briefings. I listened carefully to the remarks by Ms. Sarah Cliffe.
COVID-19 poses an unprecedented threat to lives and health of people of all countries. The world economy is heading to a recession. The international community’s efforts for sustaining peace are facing big challenges. As noted in Security Council resolution 2532, the pandemic could reverse the peacebuilding and development gains made by conflict-affected countries. We must step up our efforts to prevail over the pandemic and build back better at an early date.
Solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon in the global fight against COVID-19. Conflict-affected countries are the weakest link in this fight. Helping them build a strong line of defense is most important for ensuring victory over the pandemic and consolidating peacebuilding gains.
China calls on all parties to conflict to respond to the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire as soon as possible, not only to lay down their arms and silence the guns, but also to coordinate actions against COVID-19.
We should support the UN and the WHO in mobilizing countries to further strengthen policy coordination and increase resources to help with the preparation and response of the conflict-affected countries.
China appreciates and supports the assistance to relevant countries by UN peacekeeping operations. We support the Peacebuilding Commission in providing tailored response and reconstruction programmes for the countries. And we encourage the Peacebuilding Fund to reprioritize its projects and resources for that purpose.
As we have seen, unilateral sanctions are seriously undermining the basic capacity of targeted countries in responding to the pandemic and safeguarding livelihoods, making innocent civilians the biggest victims. We once again strongly urge relevant countries to acknowledge the negative humanitarian consequences and immediately lift their unilateral coercive measures.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been actively engaged in the global fight. China has been doing its utmost to support and assist countries in need, including many on the Council’s agenda. In June, President Xi Jinping chaired an extraordinary China-Africa summit on solidarity against COVID-19. It demonstrated the determination of China and Africa to fight COVID-19 together. China has decided to cancel the debt of interest-free loans of relevant African countries due by the end of 2020. China has also announced that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. China is ready to continue providing medical supplies to affected countries, share experience in diagnosis and treatment, and send medical experts to assist the countries’ response.
Facing the impact of COVID-19, we need to better understand sustaining peace, improve and strengthen our approaches to peacebuilding.
First, we should always be people-centered. Experience of many countries shows that as long as we put people and life first, we can develop a set of effective methods to fight the pandemic. In peacebuilding, we should also put people’s interests front and center, respect the ownership of people of the host countries, and promote an inclusive peace process.
Second, we should promote sustaining peace through development. Peacebuilding process in conflict-affected countries can easily go back to square one after one or two crises due to the countries’ weak socio-economic foundation. Development is the master key to solve all problems. The international community should attach great importance to the impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic situation of conflict-affected countries, help them improve the capacity for sustainable development, strengthen public health systems, and preserve and advance peacebuilding gains to build a solid foundation for sustaining peace.
Third, we should strengthen political leadership and participation of the whole society. In many countries, strong political leadership and social cohesion have made possible early detection, isolation, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 cases. Rebuilding political consensus, mutual trust, and social cohesion also provides important underpinning for national reconstruction. We need to support strengthening the authority of the legitimate governments of conflict-affected countries, so that they can lead the entire society in safeguarding hard-won gains of peacebuilding and achieving long-term security and stability.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous impact and challenges to the world. However, we have every reason to believe that humankind will eventually prevail and make the world a better place. To make that happen: We must be united and uphold multilateralism. Countries are dependent on each other and have a shared future. No one can artificially sever the ties that connect us. Unilateralism is a one-way train heading to a dead end, and there is no other option but turning back. We should give stronger support to the UN, and better meet challenges and pursue common development through multilateral cooperation. We must uphold justice and the rule of law. Justice is the hope of all, and is rooted in the hearts of the people. International law and the norms of international relations are important guarantee for international fairness and justice. All countries should honor their commitments and fulfill due responsibilities and obligations. We cannot allow practice of power politics, bullying and exceptionalism to take the world back to an age of the jungle. We must respect science, and support technological progress. Advances in science and technology are the common pursuit of humankind. Every one is entitled to a better life. So are those in developing countries. The practice of putting up artificial barriers to hinder other countries’ scientific and technological development, and to interfere with market competition for selfish gains is immoral, irresponsible, and against one’s own interest. It is our sincere hope that UN members and the international community will act together, shoulder responsibilities together, share the benefits together, and jointly build a better future for all.
Thank you, Madam President.