UN: Disconnect between leadership and power in coronavirus fight

UN chief Guterres raised concern about inadequate support for developing countries from the international community.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lamented a lack of leadership by world powers and a divided international community in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres raised concern about inadequate support for poor countries in his remarks on Thursday which followed US President Donald Trump reigniting his war of words with China a day earlier.

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The UN chief told a news conference that the international community was divided when it was “more important than ever” to be united.

“There is … a disconnect between leadership and power. We see remarkable examples of leadership but they are usually not associated with power. And where we see power we sometimes do not see the necessary leadership,” Guterres said.

“I hope this will be overcome sooner rather than later.

“These [US and China] are two absolutely vital countries. Their contribution to fight COVID-19 [and] to all other aspects in the development of international relations is, in my opinion, absolutely essential and I hope that it will become possible in the future,” he said.

The new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, has so far infected more than 3.2 million globally and more than 233,000 people have died, according to a tally by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Insufficient help

The UN Security Council has spent more than a month trying to negotiate a resolution that would emphasise the urgent need for enhanced cooperation among all countries in the fight against the coronavirus.

It has also called for a humanitarian truce in conflicts around the world.

A key sticking point, diplomats said, is how the resolution should reference the World Health Organization.

Trump has halted US funding for the WHO while Washington reviews the agency’s handling of the pandemic, and accused it of being “China-centric”, an assertion the organisation denies.

The US also did not take part in a WHO initiative last week where world leaders pledged to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19.

Guterres said he was particularly worried about insufficient help from the international community for developing countries, both in responding to the pandemic and addressing the economic and social impacts.

He said an appeal for $2bn to help the most vulnerable populations was only half-funded.


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