At a briefing on COVID-19, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated: “We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply. We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times.”
The Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in light of COVID-19 has already garnered significant support including from Member States and CSOs, receiving over 2 million signatures.
Introducing his report on the socio-economic implications of COVID-19 he stated: "We must see countries not only united to beat the virus but also to tackle its profound consequences...magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis...it must be multilateral, with countries showing solidarity to the most vulnerable."
Detailing its impact on workers, in March 2020 the ILO issued the first of a series on COVID-19 and the world of work, which projected that "overall losses in labour income are expected in the range of between 860 and 3,440 billion USD".
In April it issued an update, saying that " Full or partial lockdown measures are now affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, representing around 81 percent of the world’s workforce." For regular updates consult its website: ilo.org/global/topics/coronavirus.
The Secretary-General has also addressed the disproportionate impact of social distancing and shelterin-place directives on women. He noted: "For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest. In their own homes." He urged governments to make prevention of violence against women central to COVID-19 responses.
Acknowledging the differential impact of COVID-19 on developing countries, the Secretary-General has launched a Trust Fund to support low income and medium income countries in overcoming the development crisis caused by COVID-19. He urges Member States to contribute, saying: "The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy." Initial supporters include Norway and Sweden.
The Trust Fund is part of the Secretary-General’s wider Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID-19 and he included an appeal to the G20 for support. More on those plans can be found here.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued guidance on the human rights dimensions of COVID-19. The website features reports from many Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts, as well as a call to action on behalf of refugees issued by UNHCR, IOM, OHCHR and WHO.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Hilal Elver has called for the immediate lifting of international sanctions to prevent hunger crises in countries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNCTAD has compiled a thorough analysis comparing the economic fallout due to COVID-19 with that of the 2008 recession. Calling for a US$2.5 trillion coronavirus crisis package for developing countries, it notes:
“Portfolio outflows from main emerging economies surged to US$59 billion in a month between February and March, calculations show. This is more than double the outflows experienced by the same countries in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis (US$26.7 billion).
The values of their currencies against the dollar have fallen between 5% and 25% since the beginning of this year – faster than the early months of the global financial crisis.
The prices of commodities, on which many developing countries heavily depend for their foreign exchange, have also dropped precipitously since the crisis began. The overall price decline has been 37% this year, according to the report.”
The 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report prepared by the Inter-Agency Task force (IATF) on Financing for Development has just been launched. It calls for "expanding public health spending; social protection; keeping small businesses afloat; government transfers; debt forbearance and other national measures – and significantly increasing access to concessional international financing". The report can be found at: https://developmentfinance.un.org/fsdr2020.
Upcoming Meetings, Postponements and Cancellations IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings have moved to a virtual format.
UN Meetings through April and May have been canceled, postponed or moved to virtual participation.
The Generation Equality Forum, scheduled for July as part of the activities to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, has been postponed to 2021.
The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) remains on the UN agenda for July and Member States and CSOs are invited to register side events.