Photo: Non-Aligned Movement

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

While many countries around the world are taking a go-it-alone, isolationist approach to dealing with the mounting international covid-19 pandemic, often resorting to finger-pointing blame games, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is instead adopting a let’s-work-together policy to confront the disease.

The NAM — a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or opposed to any major power bloc — held an online United Against Covid-19 summit on May 4 to draw up a framework of global cooperation to combat the novel coronavirus’ spread.

The initiative, led by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is the current chairman of the NAM, was inspired by the fact that the global pandemic has “a negative impact on all countries,” and without global cooperation, it cannot be vanquished.

“We can overcome covid-19 with mutual support, self-control and joint efforts only,” Aliyev said in an opening address.

Aliyev, who also chaired an “we’re-all-in-this-together” summit on covid-19 with the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States as early as April 10, said that his government’s priority from the onset of the pandemic has been “to protect human health and ensure social protection,” which he stressed should be the primary goal of all nations.

“As a result of all the measures taken in the country, it has been possible to prevent mass infections,” he said.

“Over the past three weeks, there has been a positive trend between the number of people infected and those recovering in Azerbaijan.”

As of May 9, Azerbaijan, a country of 10 million inhabitants, had 2,422 confirmed cases of the disease, with just 31 deaths, according to a Worldometer count.

Aliyev also highlighted the work done to ensure economic stability in his country during the pandemic by addressing employment and maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability through a socioeconomic support package worth $2 billion.

As an example of global solidarity as members of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Azerbaijani head of state proposed holding a special video conference of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the covid-19 pandemic at the level of heads of state and governments .

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande was receptive to the proposal, noting that no country could overcome the pandemic on its own.

“As the United Nations, we are very pleased to support such initiatives and want to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus,” said Muhammad-Bande.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, who also participated in the NAM online summit, added that the scale and complexity of the novel coronavirus crisis demand a coordinated global response.

“The only answer is brave, visionary and collaborative leadership,” Guterres said.

“With two-thirds of UN member states, the Non-Aligned Movement has a critical role to play in forging global solidarity.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), likewise praised the NAM initiative, saying that international efforts should focus on long-term, multilateral action covering various aspects of society as a whole.

Adhanom Ghebreyesus specifically thanked Aliyev for his country’s financial support to the WHO in the amount of $5 million and expressed his gratitude to the Azerbaijani president for providing an additional $5 million to the organization.

The summit was also joined by heads of state and government from more than 40 member states in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat and EU High Representative and European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell.

The NAM was founded in the Brijuni islands of Yugoslavia in1956 during the Cold War.

It advocated a middle course of actions for developing nations in the face of polar power divisions.

The Non-Aligned Movement, to which Mexico has observer status, is the second-largest grouping of nations worldwide, after the United Nations, representing nearly two-thirds of UN member states and 55 percent of the world0s population.

Aliyev assumed a three-year chairmanship of the NAM in 2019.

…May 9, 2020

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