Korea-led initiative in UN launches to combat pandemic

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Korea-led initiative in UN launches to combat pandemic

South Korean Ambassador to the UN Cho Hyun takes part in an inaugural teleconference launching the Korea-led initiative in the United Nations, the Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security, to discuss the Covid-19 response with some 200 diplomats and health experts in New York Tuesday. [FOREIGN MINISTRY]

South Korean Ambassador to the UN Cho Hyun takes part in an inaugural teleconference launching the Korea-led initiative in the United Nations, the Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security, to discuss the Covid-19 response with some 200 diplomats and health experts in New York Tuesday. [FOREIGN MINISTRY]

A Korea-led initiative on multilateral cooperation in the United Nations to combat the coronavirus pandemic launched Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York through a teleconference involving 200 diplomats and experts.  
 
South Korea, along with Canada, Denmark, Qatar and Sierra Leone, established the Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security as a platform for UN members to exchange views on how to effectively respond to Covid-19 and other challenges in international health security. The group is also expected to highlight social and economic problems caused by the pandemic and coordinate recovery efforts.  
 
The top envoys of the five countries, including South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, co-chaired the online event inaugurating the group on Tuesday involving diplomats and health experts from some 30 countries including UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, David Nabarro, a special envoy to the World Health Organization (WHO), and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a board chair for the International Peace Institute.  
 
“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only jeopardized public health systems everywhere but has also nearly wiped out the global mobility of people, restricted trade, disrupted global value chains and spread panic and fear,” said Kang during the teleconference. “The devastating effects have been a powerful reminder of just how interconnected and yet vulnerable we are. To succeed at home and around the world, the fight against this pandemic needs a robust and well-coordinated global response firmly based on the multi-nationalism built around the United Nations."
 
Kang said during the teleconference that she looks forward to the Group of Friends becoming a platform at the UN-level to discuss an active, effective and comprehensive response to the Covid-19 pandemic and global health security, according to the Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement Wednesday.  
 
UN Deputy Secretary General Mohammed thanked Korea for organizing the launch meeting of the group and stressed the Covid-19 pandemic is “a crisis of historic magnitude” that requires “unprecedented global solidarity.”
 
She said that the Group of Friends launch “comes at a time when we need, more than ever, to strengthen institutions in our multilateral system.”
 
Mohammed however noted that the Covid-19 containment and mitigation measures “have come at a serious socioeconomic cost to millions of people” and that the United Nations is mobilizing efforts “to support countries in their responses and to plan for recovery.”
 
She addressed issues such as the need to fight hate speech and misinformation, the rise in domestic violence, the vulnerability of the elderly and people with disabilities and that some 1.6 billion children and youths globally that are out of school amid the pandemic.
 
“As many countries are now managing different Covid-19 phases and transitions, it is vital to have a coordinated global response,” said Mohammed. “No country can overcome this pandemic alone, and the sharing of reliable information, data and experiences will be vital.”
 
She added that the Group of Friends “is an important step in that direction.”  
 
Seoul, based on its experience coping with coronavirus through active testing, tracing and treating and transparent dissemination of information, has been sharing the so-called K-quarantine model with other countries.  
 
Korea also plans to launch a Group of Friends in the WHO and Unesco, or the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, later this month.  
 
BY SARAH KIM   [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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