To a specific question on the need to share information by China to understand the origin and full impact of the pandemic, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that in a globalised world it was necessary for the “public good” by India Today.
While the world is trying to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic in their own countries, international organisations are also working towards coordinating efforts to come up with a response against the spread of Covid-19 which is predicted to have a devastating impact on the global economy.
India Today TV spoke with India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, on how the world body is handling the crisis and whether if there will be a full-fledged discussion on the role of China and the opaqueness with which Beijing handled the issue.
There were reports that China which held the presidency of the 15-member United Nations Security Council for the month of March blocked any discussion on Covid-19.
When asked, the Indian envoy said, “The security council they say is the master of its own processes and agenda. We are as yet not on the table at this time. I will, therefore, refrain from commenting on what they should or should not do. I understand that an informal consultation is underway and sooner or later we will know of its outcome.”
But, to a specific question on the need to share information by China to understand the origin and full impact of the pandemic, Ambassador Akbaruddin said that in a globalised world it was necessary for the “public good”.
“We are in a globalised society. Globalisation engenders interdependence and for globalisation to proceed smoothly, we need to adhere to global public goods. One such global public good which is essential for globalisation is sharing of information and understanding of any issue that has a global impact,” he told India Today TV.
He, however, emphasised that now was not the time to bicker and play the blame game. It was important to rise up to the occasion of making a concerted effort to overcome this “existential threat”.
“At some stage, if we have to gain a thorough understanding of this entire phenomenon of the coronavirus, we will have to address that issue transparently, scientifically, openly. However, there will be time and space for that when we overcome the current crisis. Let us now work to overcome the existential threats we are all facing,” he said.
While the Member States have closely watched the situation, the Chinese envoy to the United Nations, Zhang Jun had maintained that the issue of coronavirus fell within the concept of global public health and the Security Council’s primary responsibility was dealing with the geopolitical security and peace matters.
But, this would not be the first time that a global epidemic was discussed at the UNSC. In June 2011, a UNSC resolution was adopted on the HIV epidemic.
In September 2014 resolution for the Ebola outbreak, the Council determined that the unprecedented extent of the ebola outbreak in Africa constituted a threat to international peace and security which was followed by another resolution on outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in October, 2014.
The United Nations in March came out with a report ‘Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding To The Socio-Economic Impacts Of COVID-19’ which detailed out the impacts of this health crisis.
Ambassador Akbaruddin said that this is the worst crisis that India is witnessing since its independence and the worst global crisis in a hundred years.
“The crisis that we face is the gravest global crisis that we in India have faced since our independence. It is a multidimensional crisis at the core it is a global health crisis the toll of which keeps mounting. The prognosis is for the figures to rise sharply. It has also metamorphosed into an economic crisis the likes of which the global economy has not seen in over a hundred years.”
But he emphasised that while combating the crisis would require coordinated global efforts, at the forefront is each national government and the onus to pull their nations out depends on the leadership of the respective nations.
“It is national governments that are in the forefront. They have the wherewithal and are in this operational phase key. Other institutions like public, inter-state, multilateral and various other organisations are trying to assist in a manner that they can,” he said.
Regarding international organisations, he added, “However, for a variety of reasons, their roles will be circumscribed and limited. They can advocate pathways, assess access and provide information on the global impact and they can help in coordinating key elements of assistance… But at the core, it is national governments who are in the lead, who are in the forefront and are doing their best to ameliorate the situation that their populations face.”
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