In March, António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, pleaded with nations around the world to immediately end fighting and armed conflicts so that all of us could work in concert to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which was then just beginning to be transmitted widely among communities around the world. His initial appeal was made in a public statement on 23 March. Now, a month later, the UN Security Council has announced only limited support for the plan.
It is difficult to imagine—in a time of global pandemic—the thought processes of global leaders who show reluctance to enact a simple pause in military aggression. Yet the government’s of both the US and Russia have declined to sign on to the ceasefire initiative, citing the need or potential need to utilize their militaries to strike targets in a variety of global war zones.
While it may be difficult for those of us in places of relative safety to understand or empathize with these leaders, we might seek to understand the sources of their motivations. Speaking for the United States, Kelly Craft, US ambassador to the UN, noted support for a global truce. However, a State Department spokesman offered a caveat: “The United States supports the secretary-general’s call for a global ceasefire, but have noted that we will continue to fulfill our legitimate counter-terrorism mission.” (The Guardian)