Madam President,

I would like to thank Indonesia for organizing this open debate and the participants for their contributions.

The COVID-19 pandemic, initially a health crisis, has evolved into an unprecedented economic and social crisis with medium- and long-term consequences, which remain as yet uncertain. It already represents a major challenge for international peace and security, as well as for conflict prevention and sustaining peace. The consequences threaten to undo the gains made in terms of peacebuilding and development, to further repress human rights, increase social and political tensions and result in new conflicts. The Secretary-General's call for an immediate global ceasefire, his report on the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, his policy paper on human rights and the reports from missions or country teams in the field clearly highlight these risks. The impact of the pandemic is being felt in all of the contexts on the Security Council's agenda.

Sustaining peace and prevention are at the heart of any effective and sustainable response to the pandemic. The Council must assume its responsibility in the following three areas:

First, Switzerland welcomes the unanimous response by resolution 2532 (2020) to the Secretary-General's call for an immediate global ceasefire. The resolution contains important measures for the delivery of humanitarian aid and to ensure that space for diplomacy is maintained. It must be implemented through specific follow-up measures in the contexts on the Council's agenda, such as in the Sahel, Syria, Yemen and Sudan, where violence is gaining in intensity and the humanitarian situation is further deteriorating. The Council must continue to demand that the conflicting parties ensure swift, unimpeded and long-term humanitarian access to affected populations. It must put all its weight behind efforts for mediation and sustaining peace.

Second, for a coordinated and integrated response to COVID-19, Switzerland calls on the Council to strengthen cooperation with other actors, such as the World Bank, regional organizations, national authorities and civil society. This collaboration must include a joint analysis that reveals the risks posed by the pandemic, integrates the socio-economic dimension and responds to the root causes of conflicts. The Peacebuilding Commission, particularly active since the beginning of the pandemic, plays a key advisory role to the Council. The latter must better collaborate with human rights bodies and mechanisms that rightly highlight the accelerating impact of COVID-19 on human rights violations, which are often early warning signs of future conflicts. The consultations in Geneva within the framework of the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, organized by Switzerland, also highlighted the role of the humanitarian and disarmament communities. Switzerland calls on the Council to further integrate these different areas of expertise, among other things by systematically including such stakeholders in its work.

Third, although progress is being made on incorporating COVID-19 into the renewal of mission mandates, it is still insufficient. Switzerland calls on the Council to strengthen these mandates to enable them to play a leading role in responding to the pandemic, in strengthening the resilience of the countries in which they are engaged, and in sustaining peace. Strengthening these mandates to support inclusive and accountable state institutions as well as to protect civilians, to monitor human rights and to support the inclusion of women and youth is essential for a sustainable response to the pandemic and for peacebuilding.

Together, we must strengthen solidarity and maintain our support for prevention and peacebuilding efforts, including through adequate funding of relevant instruments such as the Peacebuilding Fund. Despite the immense challenges that lie before us, COVID-19 is also an opportunity for better reconstruction and a greater commitment to sustaining peace. 

Thank you.