The COVID-19 crisis has adversely affected not only the health and health-care facilities across the globe but also the sectors such as economy. The developing world has been hit the worst by this crisis. According to the United Nations Development Program, the growing COVID-19 crisis threatens to disproportionately hit developing countries, not only as a health crisis in the short term but as a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come.
Non-Aligned Movement, being the largest collective voice of the developing world, has voiced its concerns regarding the adverse impact of COVID-19 crisis. NAM has called on its Member States to cooperate in strengthening their health systems and to provide protection to the vulnerable population.
On May 4 2020, an online Summit level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group in response to COVID-19, under the theme of “United against COVID-19 pandemic” was held. The Meeting was attended by 25 Heads of State and Government, 1 Vice-President, 1 Deputy Prime Minister and 11 Ministers of NAM Member States. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations and Josep Borrell, High Representative, Vice-President of the European Commission also addressed the Meeting through video messages. Guterres remarked that two-thirds of UN Member States, the Non-Aligned Movement has a critical role to play in forging global solidarity. He outlined three immediate priorities: to end the Covid-19 pandemic, to address its socio-economic impacts, and to use the recovery to build back better and leave no one behind.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the prominent leaders who participated in the online Summit. His participation underlined India’s longstanding commitment to the principles and values of NAM as one of its leading founding-member. In his intervention, Prime Minister emphasized the importance of a coordinated, inclusive and equitable response by the world to this crisis, outlining the steps India had taken domestically and internationally, while reaffirming India’s readiness to offer assistance in solidarity with the Movement, to the extent possible. The Indian PM also emphasized the importance of a continued effort by the world against other viruses, in particular terrorism and fake news.
Following the Summit, NAM adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. The Declaration expressed serious concern over the rapid spread of COVID-19, which poses a major challenge to humanity. The challenge of addressing COVID-19 crisis required a global response based on unity, solidarity and renewed multilateral cooperation.
The Declaration welcomed the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/74/270, entitled “Global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)”, and A/RES/74/274, entitled “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19”. The Declaration also expressed full support to the United Nations Secretary-General’s plans and initiatives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Declaration reiterated the Communiques of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement on “the COVID-19 Pandemic” of 25 March 2020 and “In support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Director-General” of 9 April 2020. The NAM had reiterated that it was time to avoid the politicization of the virus and to set aside all political ideologies and discrimination for the sake of all humankind; it was time for global unity and for redoubling international solidarity and multilateral cooperation in order t, ensure that the common enemy, COVID-19, is defeated sooner rather than later, along with its severe health and socio-economic consequences.
The Declaration also decided to establish the Non-Aligned Movement Task Force with the task to work out a database that will include the basic humanitarian and medical needs and requirements of NAM Member States, which will be submitted by the Chairmanship to all donor countries, international humanitarian organizations, international financial institutions, transnational private entities implementing social responsibility projects and others for possible support and assistance. NAM has thus emphasised that in the face of this type of global emergency, the spirit of solidarity must be at the centre of our efforts and a high level of ethical and humanist commitment is required, where solidarity and selfless cooperation prevail in order to provide the peoples in need with medicines, medical equipment and supplies, food, exchange of expertise and good practice.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur
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