Global security environment enters phase of heightened volatility: UN chief

Source: Xinhua| 2020-10-31 07:13:55|Editor: huaxia

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The global security environment has entered a phase of heightened and extended volatility, with increased threats of civil unrest and a steady rise in instability across the globe, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report released on Friday.

The report, which was titled "Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel and Protection of United Nations Personnel," analyzed global security and security incidents involving UN and humanitarian personnel in 2019 and the first half of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing global challenges, further exposing the underlying causes of insecurity, social and economic inequality with overtones of racial tension and nationalism. Violent extremist groups and organized crime gangs have exploited the pandemic in most regions, according to the report.

The secretary-general noted that, from the pre-COVID-19 period in 2019 to the unprecedented conditions caused by the pandemic in 2020, the already complex security environment has evolved with shifting geopolitics, protracted armed conflicts, large-scale public health emergencies, economic stresses and debt crisis, climate shocks, deepening social and economic inequity, food insecurity, mass migration, populism and xenophobia, growing nationalism, disinformation and cyber insecurity.

UN and humanitarian personnel face security threats, from armed conflict, crime, civil unrest and violent extremism to xenophobia and disinformation, the report said.

Their work has continued despite the adverse operational and security impact that the pandemic has had on humanitarian access and program delivery, including COVID-19 responses, the report noted.

Eleven UN personnel were killed by violent acts in 2019 and two in the first half of 2020. Fatalities due to malicious acts among uniformed peacekeepers decreased to 23 in 2019, compared to 27 in 2018.

During the 18-month period, a total of 52 UN personnel lost their lives owing to acts of violence and safety-related incidents, the report said.

The United Nations saw a drastic increase in the number of personnel deaths caused by violent extremism with five personnel killed in 2019 compared to none in 2018.

Direct attacks against UN premises saw a sharp rise in 2019, with 53 attacks compared to 23 in 2018, according to the report. There were 89 attacks against UN vehicles in 2019.

While crime remains the main cause of personnel fatalities due to violence, the number of UN personnel affected by crimes has increased slightly for the past eight years. The number of reported sexual assaults against UN personnel also rose in 2019.

In his report, the secretary-general underlined that, despite the unparalleled adverse effects of the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis has presented opportunities for joint efforts to tackle interrelated global issues, articulated in the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report highlighted the secretary-general's deep concern on the systemic disrespect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and for the humanitarian principles. "Intentional attacks on United Nations and humanitarian personnel constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law," the secretary-general said. He urged governments to bring to justice the perpetrators of such violations.

The secretary-general called on the international community to maintain its resolve to protect UN and humanitarian personnel, with a reinvigorated commitment to multilateralism in tackling the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and addressing the root causes of insecurity.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the report said, has had a profound impact on peace and security across the globe, compounding geopolitical and security challenges, undermining social cohesion and fueling unrest, conflicts, violent extremism, populism and disinformation. "The world faces security challenges that no single country or organization can address alone," said the secretary-general. Enditem