Written statement by Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations for the UNSC Open Debate on "Peace and security in Africa: Addressing root causes of conflict while promoting post-pandemic recovery in Africa" (19 May 2021)

Mr. President,

I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for convening this important and timely open debate of the UN Security Council on the important linkages between the root causes of conflict in Africa and the post-pandemic recovery on the Continent.

Mr. President,

The root causes of conflict in Africa are complex and multi-dimensional and include poverty and underdevelopment; internal struggles for scarce resources; external contests for natural resources; and foreign interventions designed to suppress the rights of peoples to determine their own political and economic destinies.

Above all, Africa’s long and painful history of colonization has left behind numerous conflicts and disputes across the Continent that continue to impact on its peace, stability and progress.

The colonial legacy is also reflected in some of the social inequalities and continued economic, trade and, often, political and military dependence on former colonial powers.

These challenges have been further exacerbated by an unequal global order that often prioritizes profits over the common good.

Mr. President,

COVID-19 is a global health and socio-economic crisis. It has triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression and disproportionately impacted the poorest countries. The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated global inequalities.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on Africa, especially those countries which suffer from existing structural vulnerabilities.

According to the World Bank, in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic activity in Africa is likely to decline by 3.3%, resulting in the loss of USD 115 billion. The economic decline in some of the vulnerable countries will be much larger.

The pandemic is also likely to push an estimated 40 million people on the Continent into extreme poverty. This translates into nearly five years of hard-war progress against poverty.

Given nearly 50% the issues pertaining to international peace and security on the agenda of the UN Security Council pertain to Africa, our failure to help Africa control and subsequently recover from the debilitating health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic will lead to further exacerbation of conflicts in Africa.

Mr. President,

Helping Africa recover from the debilitating impact of the pandemic will not only require international support for a robust vaccination programme that reaches across the continent, including the conflict zones, but also the provision of adequate fiscal space and additional liquidity to recover from the economic reversal. It will also entail renewed efforts to sustain peacekeeping and peace-building efforts in the conflict-afflicted countries and regions.

Unfortunately, low-incoming countries, especially in Africa, are lagging well behind in terms of vaccine access, despite the UN Secretary General identifying vaccine equity as “the biggest moral test before the global community.”

Of the total 832 million doses administered globally, 82% have gone to the high or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have just received just 0.2%.

The World Bank estimates that every month of delay in vaccination costs the African continent USD 13.8 billion in lost gross domestic product. Africa still needs around USD 12 billion to vaccinate a sufficient number of people to ensure adequate protection from further surges of the COVID-19 virus.

Instituting a viable framework for equitable and affordable distribution of COVID vaccine to Africa should be a central component of the global strategy for containing the pandemic globally and enabling the Continent to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and revive economic growth and realize the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the President of the ECOSOC, Pakistan organized ECOSOC’s Special Ministerial Meeting entitled “A Vaccine for All” in April 2021 that helped draw attention towards the issue of vaccination.

The meeting underscored the need for drastically accelerating efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccine through inter alia scaling up vaccine production, supply and distribution; fully finding the COVAX facility; the release of excess stocks of vaccines held by some countries; ending export restrictions that restrict or slow the availability of vaccine; diversifying supply chains; expanding manufacturing capacity globally, especially in low and middle-income countries; and easing restrictions related to intellectual property rights to allow local vaccine production, especially in Africa.

International support will also be needed to revamp the fragile health systems on the continent.

Mr. President,

Helping the African continent deal with the financial fallout of the pandemic is also a vital component of post-pandemic recovery strategy.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has proposed a five-point agenda of priority financial measures to help the developing countries overcome the impact of the pandemic. These are:

Implementation of this action plan in context of Africa and other parts of the world will help foster recovery from the recession and promote peace and development, including in Africa.

Mr. President,

The pandemic has furthermore accentuated the importance of preventive diplomacy, mediation and other means of peaceful resolution of disputes and conflicts in Africa.

In this regard, the ongoing partnership between the African Union and the UN on issues pertaining to peace and security in Africa needs to be reinforced, with a special emphasis on institutional mechanisms aimed at conflict prevention, early warning, and mediation.

Efforts must be also undertaken towards the implementation of Secretary General' s call for a global ceasefire in cooperation with the regional and sub-regional organizations.

Likewise, our peacekeeping and peace-building strategies must also evolve to take into cognizance the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the peace and security milieu in Africa. UN Peacekeepers at the frontlines also need adequate protection from the health impacts of the pandemic.

Mr. President,

Over the last seven decades, Pakistan has been at the forefront of efforts aimed at maintenance of peace and security in Africa as part of the UN peacekeeping operations. In the same vein, we will continue to support all international efforts aimed at helping Africa recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I thank you.