By Faranak Bakhtiari

Global partnership prerequisite to counter COVID-19

September 26, 2020 - 20:44

TEHRAN – A global crisis needs global cooperation to be tackled, the coronavirus pandemic showed that in today's world many dangers can cross all boundaries and affect the whole world so that it magnifies the importance of international cooperation.

With all its smallness, COVID-19 challenged global governance to such an extent that even the most important global gathering was inevitably held virtually. So that, it once again reminds all of us members of human society that tackling common global issues is only possible through global participation.

As the U.S. government's unilateralism increased and the role of the United Nations diminished, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized the lack of multilateral solutions to global problems at the opening session of the UN General Assembly calling for “inclusive multilateralism”.

He further emphasized the need for expanding the circle of engagement, drawing on the capacities of civil society, regions, and cities, businesses, foundations, and academic and scientific institutions.

According to the latest statistics, over 32 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the virus so far, of which more than 980,000 have died; The United Nations recently issued a resolution calling for comprehensive and coordinated action by the international community to combat the epidemic.

In the resolution, UN member states reiterated their call for international cooperation, multilateralism, and solidarity at all levels, as the only possible way to deal effectively with the global crisis and its aftermath.

Also recently, former UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande called “Solidarity of Nations through this international body” the best option for a multilateral response to the epidemic.

A comprehensive fight against the pandemic requires the cooperation of all countries and international organizations, regardless of political, racial, or national differences. This year, more than ever, the UN tribune has become a platform for confronting unilateralism.

In his first speech to the UN General Assembly, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called for global solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi at the General Assembly stressed the rejection of the approach of confrontation and coercion and called on the international community to publicly support the policy of engagement, cooperation, and the process of multilateralism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his support for multilateralism in a video conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the occasion of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.

“We can no longer take multilateralism for granted,” said Josep Borrell, the EU's special envoy for political affairs and international security. Some even try to ignore the multilateral system, but the Europeans do not.

In a video message to the United Nations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the organization was facing a crisis of confidence in the face of some unilateralism, while multilateralism, which reflects current realities, should be maintained at the United Nations.

‘American unilateralism’ biggest challenge

The 75th anniversary of the United Nations underscored multilateralism as the U.S. government sought to undermine it by moving in the opposite direction.

In the wake of the outbreak, shortages of medicine and medical supplies have increasingly disrupted the treatment system to deal with COVID-19. Meanwhile, the imposition of U.S. sanctions, especially on medicine, is aimed at putting pressure on governments and nations that do not follow unilateralist policies, including Iran and Venezuela.

President Hassan Rouhani also stressed that tackling common global issues is only possible through global participation and said that “We are all going through a difficult time in the world.” But instead of enjoying global cooperation, my nation faces the toughest sanctions in history in clear and fundamental violations of the UN Charter, international agreements, and Security Council Resolution 2231.

In the midst of the global epidemic, the Trump administration continues to seek to hit the economies of other countries, including Iran, he added.

He went on to note that U.S. sanctions to prevent the sale of medicine, medical equipment, and humanitarian goods have severely hampered efforts to combat the outbreak in Iran; In fact, they attacked millions of people through economic terrorism.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also stated that “We must jointly confront the destructive impact of unilateral coercive measures to combat the epidemic; Such actions are nothing but economic and medical terrorism, and we must refrain from following these illegal actions to combat the scourge of humanity.

“We must all face this great global challenge, one that has challenged all geographical, political and socio-economic divisions, and most importantly, turn to multilateralism and reject unilateralism,” he said in a virtual meeting of foreign ministers at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

The U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which violates the principle of cooperation and solidarity of governments in dealing with international problems, also indicates that the country not only does not pay the least attention to international obligations, but basically people's health and their fundamental right to health care is completely neglected, and there are no equivalent human rights in the dictionary of American officials, he explained.

International obligations of countries

Cooperation between countries and members of the United Nations is one of the most frequently used terms in international instruments; The Charter of the United Nations as the Constitution of the International System with 193 Member States, including the United States, emphasizes on “Achieving international cooperation in resolving international issues with economic, social, cultural or humanitarian aspects”. Chapter 9 of the Charter, in Article 55, also calls for “international cooperation” in various matters to resolve international economic, social, and health issues.

Numerous international instruments have also been adopted on the need to maintain international cooperation between governments. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution (2625), entitled “Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation between States under the Charter of October 24, 1970”, states that regardless of the differences in the cultural systems, political and social interests call for cooperation in accordance with the Charter in order to maintain international peace and security, as well as to facilitate international economic stability and public welfare.

The end of crises has usually been the beginning of change. With the end of the coronavirus, it remains to be seen how the role of governments, the balance of power, and international institutions will change.

However, the global crisis has so far emphasized the concept of commitment to cooperation, especially in the field of fundamental human rights, showing that “common human threats” are only tackled through the “common human interest”.

International cooperation to advance and solve the problems of humanity is not a choice but a necessity.