UN Security Council’s lack of leadership


Sir, – In 50 years of Concern’s work, we have never seen anything of the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic, a humanitarian crisis that has attacked almost all countries of the world. In the most vulnerable areas about to be hit by the worst effects of the virus, frontline workers and NGOs have a central role to play.

Concern is one of many humanitarian organisations which has hit the ground running – turning our cars in to ambulances in Niger, distributing hygiene kits in the displacement camps of Iraq, and introducing prevention methods such as hand sanitiser and protective masks in the prisons of Afghanistan.

But the efforts of everybody on the frontline must be buttressed by a far more ambitious multilateral economic intervention and vision for systemic change – one that ensures secondary catastrophes caused by Covid-19 are averted.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres made a call for a global ceasefire – to ensure that those who are trapped by conflict are not without help in the face of Covid-19. In any other time, such a sweeping call might have been dismissed as naïve. Now however, aware of the gravity of the situation, rebel groups from Colombia to Cameroon have dropped arms for a period of time. Change is happening. Except at the UN Security Council. The world’s most powerful multilateral instrument is only now planning to meet for the first time since this crisis began.

The vacuum of leadership from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council undermines the heroic efforts to fight Covid-19. A global ceasefire to facilitate a global health response is a necessity.

The past two weeks have shown that mountains can be moved when we are facing a threat that will impact directly on our entire society. Whether this involves collective societal sacrifice, or immense decisions on national finance, in times of crisis, the determination to find solutions is remarkable. That determination and political will must now be mirrored at the UN Security Council. These are extraordinary times and they demand extraordinary measures. – Yours, etc,


CEO, Concern Worldwide,

Dublin 2.