Germany’s Maas: UN must broaden understanding of peace and security

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday told the United Nations Security Council that it must “must finally embrace a broader understanding of peace and security.”

Maas chaired a video conference on the implications of the coronavirus pandemic on international peace and security, a day after Germany took over the council presidency for July.

“The founders of the United Nations may well have had artillery, bombers and soldiers in mind when they drafted the Charter,” he said. “Today, we know that a virus can be deadlier than a gun, that a cyber attack can cause more harm than a soldier, and that climate change threatens more people than most conventional weapons.”

Early, preventive action was needed, based on good reporting and adequate capacities in the UN system, Maas said.

The council meeting came a day after the council passed a resolution backing UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for a global ceasefire to focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, after months of negotiations stymied by a feud between the United States and China.

Calling the resolution “long overdue,” Maas said the council must implement it by working towards country-specific ceasefires.

Guterres warned the council of rising tensions due to the socio-economic fallout of the outbreak, eroding trust in public institutions, rising gender inequalities and the risk to peace processes.

“The pandemic also highlights the risks of bioterrorist attacks, and has already shown some of the ways in which preparedness might fall short if a disease were to be deliberately manipulated to be more virulent, or intentionally released in multiple places at once,” the UN chief said.

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