World Faces ‘Gravest Test’ since Founding of United Nations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Calling for Unity to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

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COVID-19 :: United Nations Response

World Faces ‘Gravest Test’ since Founding of United Nations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Calling for Unity to Address COVID-19 Pandemic
9 April 2020 SG/SM/20041
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council on the COVID-19 pandemic, in New York, today:
Thank you for convening this important discussion.  The world faces its gravest test since the founding of this Organization.  Every country is now grappling with or poised to suffer the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic:  the tens of thousands of lost lives; the broken families; the overwhelmed hospitals; the overworked essential workers.

We are all struggling to absorb the unfolding shock:  the jobs that have disappeared and businesses that have suffered; the fundamental and drastic shift to our daily lives; and the fear that the worst is still yet to come, especially in the developing world and countries already battered by armed conflict.


While the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, its implications are much more far-reaching.  We are already seeing its ruinous social and economic impacts, as Governments around the world struggle to find the most effective responses to rising unemployment and the economic downturn.  But, the pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security — potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.

My concerns are many and widespread, but let me identify eight risks that are particularly pressing…
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World Health Organization ‘Absolutely Critical’ to Global Fight against COVID-19, Secretary-General Says, Calls for Support, Unity
8 April 2020 SG/SM/20038
The following statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres was issued today:
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime.  It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socioeconomic consequences.

The World Health Organization (WHO), with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines, supporting Member States and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus.

I witnessed first-hand the courage and determination of WHO staff when I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, where WHO staff are working in precarious conditions and very dangerous remote locations as they fight the deadly Ebola virus.  It has been a remarkable success for WHO that no new cases of Ebola have been registered in months.

It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.


This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response.  Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities.  Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis.  The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future.

But now is not that time.  Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.