Intervention by Mr. Nirupam Dev Nath, Counsellor during the Interactive Dialogue with the Fourth Committee overall policy matters pertaining to Special Political Mission on the impact of COVID-19 on the work of special political missions on 17 June 2020

Mr. Chair,

  • We thank you for convening this interactive dialogue on the overall policy matters pertaining to SPMs with specific focus on Impact of COVID- 19 on the work of special political missions. We also thank USG DiCarlo and USG Khare for their comprehensive briefings.
  • We appreciate SPMs continued work even during this challenging time. SPMs cover a broad range of issues and configurations. Yet, they all can contribute to conflict prevention and sustaining peace in compliance with their respective mandates. During the ongoing 2020 PBA review, we, therefore, see greater opportunities for leveraging their expertise and effectiveness in preventing conflict and sustaining peace.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting our societies and our lives in an unprecedented manner. During this trying time, SPMs have the greater responsibility to ensure its mandate delivery so that the political gains and peace dividends do not slide back. They need to continue their value-added contribution to peacebuilding and sustaining peace to gain further confidence of the UN membership, the Security Council, and also the concerned national authorities of the countries or regions under their respective mandates. It is critically important for them to seize the window of opportunity created by SG’s global ceasefire call to open up more political space on the ground for advancing peace processes.
  • SG’s Global Appeal to address and counter gender-based violence should be leveraged by SPMs to attenuate the pandemic’s adverse impact on women’s participation in peace processes. In the same vein SG’s other appeals and calls such for countering hate speech, all forms of intolerance and misinformation campaign could also be used to build confidence and bring warring parties together. Joined up efforts with the new generation of UN country teams could prove particularly helpful.
  • We understand the daunting challenges before the SPMs having to address emergency issues in various country contexts due to COVID-19, and yet continue to build upon their political gains for the medium and long terms goals for sustaining peace. This is a fine balancing act and if not managed properly can create further strains on their effective mandate delivery. It would be, therefore, important for each SPM to map out the potential pitfalls brought about by the COVID-19 and accordingly develop an evolving strategy to navigate such pitfalls. SPMs should also be able to manage the risk of diversion of international attention and resources from peacebuilding and mediation activities. The member states may help SPMs in this regard ensuring necessary political support and resources in a timely and predictable manner.
  • SPMs may need to optimize the opportunity of use of digital platform against the challenge of access to such platforms in fragile settings. This would help overcome to some extent the limitation on physical presence in interaction, mediation and diplomatic engagements brought about by the pandemic.
  • In the context of the pandemic, we would like to stress on the greater importance of sustained and continued efforts of the Special Envoy on Myanmar for implementing her mandate which include, inter alia, ending continued violence in Rakhine state; ensuring unfettered access to the affected people; addressing the root causes for systematic discrimination and persecution of Rohingya population; and facilitating the return of the stranded Rohingya to Rakhine State in safety and dignity. Bangladesh reiterates its support and necessary assistance to fulfil her mandate.
  • I would like to conclude with a question. In our views, the analysis and early warning provided by SPMs need to be more effectively used in formulating timely response to preventing outbreak, recurrence, and escalation of conflict, particularly during the COVID-19 situation. But I understand, there are multiple challenges. I would request for some reflections on this aspect from USG DiCarlo and USG Khare.

I thank you all.