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UN Friends Group Holds Inaugural Talks to Cope with COVID-19

#Hot Issues of the Week l 2020-05-17



A South Korea-led multilateral group was launched on Tuesday to ensure effective cooperation against the coronavirus outbreak.

"Korea was one of the first countries to be hit by COVID-19 and we felt the need for and thus proposed the launch of this Group of Friends of Solidarity for global health security, a New York-based platform that can effectively assists the UN system and the international community to better respond to the pandemic and other global health security challenges."

During the inaugural video conference, Seoul's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed hope that the UN Friends Group will come up with actionable solutions to deal with the pandemic.

"At this time, we are all grappling with a deep crisis that is both local and global. 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. 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 multinationalism built around the United Nations."

Co-chaired by South Korea, Canada, Denmark, Sierra Leone and Qatar, nearly 200 health experts and representatives from UN member states took part and focused their discussions on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments.

"As our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said, this global pandemic is an unprecedented challenge but also an opportunity. Canada's vision is a post-COVID world that is still effective multilateralism."

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed also called for resolving the socioeconomic repercussions of the pandemic.

"We can see again the clear relationship between global health security and strong and resilient health systems with universal health coverage in order to curve an outbreak at a time when a pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and left many financially insecure. Entire population must be able to access necessary testing, treatment and care. We are also keenly aware that the strong COVID-19 containment and mitigation measures have come at a serious socioeconomic cost to millions of people."

South Korea unveiled a plan last week to establish the UN Friends Group. Speaking to KBS, Seoul's ambassador to the UN Cho Hyun stressed that the current outbreak will not be the last time that a novel pathogen strikes the global community.

"It is important that UN member states share their COVID-19 responses to effectively deal with and eradicate the coronavirus as soon as possible. Our response is an important issue as another pandemic might come in the future."

The South Korean government plans to launch two other cooperation groups with the World Health Organization(WHO) and UNESCO later this month.

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