Mr. President,

Switzerland would like to thank the United Kingdom for organizing this important debate and the speakers for their contributions. Covid-19 continues to have an impact on international peace and security. It is evident that the instruments of the Security Council, in particular the mediation processes and the deployment of peacekeeping missions, have been impacted by the crisis.

In view of the magnitude of the crisis, vaccines offer a way out of the acute phase of the crisis. An equitable distribution based on the principle of global solidarity is crucial to ensure that no one is left behind. The international community must work closely together to secure the fair distribution of vaccines, especially in contexts of conflict and insecurity. Continuity of essential health services and universal health coverage, also during armed conflicts, contributes to more inclusive societies, a key factor in sustaining peace.

The longer the acute phase of the health crisis continues, the greater is the risk that the pandemic will undermine conflict resolution efforts and the peacebuilding and development gains of countries in transition. It is therefore important for the Security Council to engage in support of vaccination efforts, particularly in conflict zones and fragile contexts.

Switzerland would like to highlight three priority areas for action:

First, Switzerland welcomes the establishment of the COVAX Facility, to which it substantially contributes as a self-financed country, and as a donor to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. As a first step, its immediate objective is to achieve the vaccination by June of the most vulnerable groups, such as health workers, in all countries. Switzerland also supports the work of various organizations such as Gavi, to provide technical support to low and middle income countries in the preparation of vaccination campaigns, as well as to ensure that they have access to diagnostics and therapies. In this sense, Switzerland supports the overall efforts of the ACT-A initiative.

Second, Switzerland urges all parties to armed conflicts to guarantee humanitarian actors rapid and unimpeded access to affected populations. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Resolution 2286(2015), Switzerland calls on the Council to ensure the protection of medical missions: it is unacceptable, that attacks on patients, hospitals and medical personnel are increasing in the midst of a pandemic. The Council must also rigorously monitor its commitments to the protection of civilians, including women and children. The Secretary-General should include elements related to vaccination in his next report on the protection of civilians.

Third, an effective fight against the pandemic undeniably requires the cessation of hostilities. Almost a year after the Secretary-General's appeal, Switzerland calls for a collective effort and the conclusion of ceasefire agreements, particularly in Yemen, Syria and the Central African Republic. The resolution 2532(2020) was crucial for calling a humanitarian pause. The Council must strengthen its monitoring of the implementation of resolution 2532, including in country situations with which it deals. Switzerland supports efforts to update resolution 2532 and to address the current state of the crisis, in particular support for the delivery of vaccines to conflict areas and in peacebuilding contexts.

Thank you.