UN calls for global ceasefire to tackle COVID-19 pandemic
UN calls for global ceasefire to tackle COVID-19 pandemic
UN calls for global ceasefire to tackle COVID-19 pandemic

Marking UN International Day of Living Together in Peace

By Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, Head of 'Peace Operations and Peacebuilding' at the GCSP

The United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire in all conflicts around the world so that the global community can instead concentrate their resources on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement released to mark the UN’s International Day of Living Together in Peace on 16 May 2020, HE Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the UN’s General Assembly, called the pandemic “the most challenging crisis since the Second World War” and warned that it “poses a serious threat to maintenance of international peace and security – potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would undermine our ability to fight the disease”.

Underlining the UN’s demand for an immediate cessation in hostilities, Muhammad-Bande stated: “It is time to silence the guns and bring hope to those who are most vulnerable,” adding that “the challenges we are facing today are huge. They require international solidarity. The international community must come together and act as one.”

In regards to the UN’s role in tackling the crisis, Muhammad-Bande was explicit in the need for a continuance of their peacekeeping and humanitarian activities: “We must coherently execute action to deliver our mandates – maintaining peace through our 95,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world. We must ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches more than 110 million people in 57 countries. We must continue to develop new strategies to sustain peace and follow through on those already in place.”

Unfortunately, the United Nations Security Council has not yet managed to agree on a resolution, however, the UN has committed to maintaining its peacekeeping activities despite the restrictions that the pandemic has created. “The way in which even the most complex multidimensional UN missions are stepping up to meet the challenge, both doing everything they can to continue deliver on their mandates, while at the same time, taking measures to protect both their own personnel and the local authorities and communities with whom they work, is commendable” says Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, GCSP’s Head of Peace Operations and Peacebuilding.

At the same time, humanitarian outreach has become increasingly challenging. With refugee camps and disaster displacement sites around the world being riven by COVID-19 outbreaks, it remains to be seen what these new strategies will entail.

May 16th was declared the annual International Day of Living Together in Peace by the UN General Assembly in 2017, and is dedicated “to saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war” while  “recognising the importance of a culture of peace”. Marking this year’s event, Muhammad-Bande rounded off his statement by calling for the protection of “the most vulnerable – women and children – who are already impacted disproportionately by armed conflict”.



Find out more about our Peace Operations and Peacebuilding topic at the GCSP.

Ms Annika Hilding Norberg joined the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in 2017 where she is leading the work on peace operations and peacebuilding with a specific focus on dialogue, research and policy development, and education and training. She serves on the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform Management Committee.

Prior to joining the GCSP, she was the Director of the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations (CF), a joint platform of 22 countries, incl. the 5 Permanent Members of the UNSC for 21 years. The aim of the Forum was to strengthen the planning, conduct, evaluation of and support for UN peace operations. Founded in 1996 as part of her research studies at the London School of Economics and Political Studies (LSE), Ms Norberg coordinated the Forum based at the LSE, the Swedish National Defence College and the Folke Bernadotte Academy, an agency of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ms Norberg is main editor of more than 80 Forum reports and policy briefs. Key focus areas in recent years were the CF contributions to the UN-led development of the Principles and Guidelines for UN Peacekeeping, the Strategic Guidance Framework for International Police Peacekeeping, and the Considerations for Mission Leaders in UN Peacekeeping Study. In 2008, Ms Norberg was awarded the Silver Medal of the Swedish Royal Academy of Military Science for her contributions to strengthening UN peacekeeping.