Exclusive: Labour calls on UK to help secure global ceasefire amid pandemic

Labour has called on the UK government to use its diplomatic influence to secure support for a global ceasefire that would help countries focus on their coronavirus pandemic response, LabourList can reveal.

Writing to International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan today, Labour’s Preet Kaur Gill raised concern over the recent failure of the United Nations Security Council to back the call for a ceasefire.

UN Secretary António Guterres appealed for a global ceasefire two months ago, saying the “fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”. But members of the Security Council have not been able to agree on the Covid-19 resolution.

Gill has told the UK government that this failure “will cause further damage to the populations of countries and regions with current or intermittent conflict occurring”, where health systems are more likely to be weak.

It is not possible to scale up the health services that are needed to tackle the immediate impacts of coronavirus if people are fighting,” the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development wrote.

We have already seen that the failure to cooperate at an international level risks a scramble over resources. Failing to reach an agreement on a ceasefire soon will threaten peace and security.”

The Labour Party has repeatedly urged the government to lead the way in developing an international response to the pandemic and to support countries in Africa with “overburdened and under-resourced health systems”.

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has advised world leaders to form a temporary global government that would tackle both the medical and economic crises around the world caused by Covid-19.

Gill has highlighted that the UN Refugee Agency estimate of at least 70 million people being currently displaced – many due to conflict and often living in camps without space for social distancing or adequate sanitation and with a lack of supplies.

Gill concluded in her letter to Trevelyan: “A global ceasefire is a vital step to focus attention and resources on supporting those most at risk from Covid-19 and its effects. The sooner we do it, the more lifesaving assistance can be provided to those who need it.

“The UK must show global leadership and use its diplomatic influence with international partners to help secure support for a global ceasefire in the UN Security Council as a matter of urgency so that efforts can be focused on delivering an effective, global Covid-19 response.”

The World Health Organisation agreed a resolution on Tuesday to investigate the global response to the pandemic, with none of the 194 members states raising objections to the proposal put forward by the European Union.

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