SPECIAL TO ISLAMABAD POST
The UN General Assembly, on 22 December 2005, by resolution, designated December 20 to be the date of observance of International Human Solidarity Day – the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.
The resolution identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the Twenty-first Century.
On the eve of the International Day of Human Solidarity, the SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov shared his views about the importance of solidarity regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus diseases (Covid-19).
Since 2005, the world has been celebrating the InternationalDay of Solidarity. International Solidarity Day, is an opportunity to unite like-minded people to act in solidarity across the world trying to address the problem of the people such as; eradicating poverty as well as promote social and human development in developing countries, particularly amongst the poorest segments of the population, including assistance to those affected by natural disasters and refugees.
This day is intended to remind the society of the importance of solidarity in achieving common goals and implementing international agreements and programs, and to promote the unity of beliefs, solidarity of mutual assistance, and mutual support of social groups.
December 20 is therefore a day to celebrate unity in diversity.It raises public awareness of the importance of solidarity for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including povertyeradication.
In April this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on “Global Solidarity to Fight Coronavirus Disease”. The document calls for increased international cooperation in sharing scientific knowledge, and best practices to contain the pandemic and mitigate its effects.
“The UN Security Council must show unity in the face of the threat of a coronavirus pandemic,” said António Guterres. “Solidarity is an important factor in enabling the countries of the world to work together to maintain peace, achieve sustainable development goals and respect human rights for all, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic”, he further added.
As the coronavirus spreads,the UNSG also called on G20 leaders to lift sanctions that impede the delivery of food, medical care, and necessities. He also called for the lifting of cross-border trade restrictions to ease the delivery of medical equipment, medicine, and other commodities to combat the epidemic.
However, the common pursuit of cooperation and development encapsulates the founding principle of the SCO, and guided by principles of the “Shanghai spirit” the SCO Member States have a consolidated approach in combating threats, and in the difficult context of the coronavirus pandemic, the member states have shown unity and solidarity in providing assistance and support to one another directly, as well as through the SCO mechanisms at various levels.
while rigorously adhering to the principles of solidarity which is deeply rooted in the founding principles of the SCO viz “Shanghai Spirit”, our Organization, in its daily activities, is urging “international cooperation in solving socio-economic, cultural and humanitarian problems.
Moreover, the first high-level SCO event aimed at overcoming the negative consequences of the coronavirus in the SCO space was an extraordinary video conference meeting of theforeign ministries of themember states, which was held on May 13, 2020. The ministers discussed the priorities of SCO activities in the context of the spread of new coronavirus infection. They stressed the importance of deepening international cooperation to overcome the social and economic& trade consequences of the COVID-19 as well as to prevent its negative impact on regional and global security and stability.
Resultantly, a Joint Declaration was adopted that reflects the concern about the current situation and emphasizes responsibility on each country in ensuring the sanitary-epidemiological well-being of the population, aswell as stressed the need for concerted and inclusive multilateral efforts with the central role of the United Nations in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, The Moscow Declarationadopted at the end of the SCO Summit on November 10, 2020, also stresses the need to further strengthen international cooperation in combating the spreadof the virus and mitigating the political and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic globally.
Besides, the Heads of Member States adopted a statement said“Combating New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19)”, in which they noted the importance of joining international efforts to strengthen the global health system, especially the capacity of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) to implement the principles of the International Health Regulations (2005).
The Joint Communiqué of the SCO Heads of Government adopted on November 30, 2020, also emphasized the need, to focus on a shared vision of global prosperity and cooperation sharing the benefits of medical research and development, and to develop adaptive, responsive humane health systems, especially in the current scenario of the pandemic
Addressing emerging economic challenges, exclusively of the most economically vulnerable members of the society, the member states intended to promote new approaches and procedures for crisis management, to strengthen and improve the working of the World Health Organization and other intergovernmental organizations.
In this difficult time, it will not be appropriate to recognize the job well done of doctors and medical workers of the SCO countries – who are on the front line in the fight against Covid-19. They are risking their lives and working selflessly as well as with enthusiasm in treating the infected. The governments of the SCO countries took measures to reward the hard work of doctors and medical workers with dignity. Undoubtedly, the State’s care, solidarity, and moral support will energize their spirit and will impart a sense of confidence and victory in the fight againstthe disease.
Their work was noted by the leaders of our countries in a statement adopted at the end of the Moscow SCO Summit said, “We note with sincere respect and gratitude the selfless work of doctors and medical personnel, specialists of sanitary and epidemiological services, laboratories and research centers that are at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus”.
I would also like to mention the work of volunteersofthe SCO Member States, whoare actively assisting doctors, the sick, the poor, and those in need. They delivermedicines, food, and provide first aid to thosewhom the doctorcould not reach in time. Showing solidarity, they have made an invaluable contribution to supporting and assisting those who need help in these difficult times.
On the SCO Secretariat’s actions,a banner is placed at the entrance of the Secretariat, reads”The virus has no national borders; the epidemic is our common enemy! Only joint international cooperation will defeat the pandemic!”
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, videos on social media, publications, articles, and photo collections, where the peoples of the SCO countries calling forunity, solidarity, mutual assistance in the fight against the virus,got full support from all the quarters, its media space and reach is highly increasing.
In February this year, when a new type of virus was raging in China, the Secretariat also organized a flash mob in support of medical workers and the PRC’s response to the disease. Under the slogan “We believe, we are together, we will win!” the Secretariat staff addressed the doctors and medical staff in their native languages with words of support and a call for unity.
On the first night of publication alone, the video received more than 80,000 views. It is now also available on the secretariat’s official website, as well as on its Telegram channel. http://rus.sectsco.org/news/20200213/626597.html
Students of the multinational SCOLAR Youth Platform of the SCO Secretariat, being quarantined, also prepared a joint video: “Now is a difficult period when the strength of spirit is tested, all of us – being in China and abroad – want to say that you are not alone”.Also, the students from Uzbekistan in the city of Wuhan from the SCOLAR Youth Platform issued a statementthat said, “Wuhan – we are with you! We believe you will beat the disease!”
On the importance of showing solidarity in the fight against modern threats. Like the creation of the United Nations to bring the peoples and nations of the world together to protect peace, human rights, and social and economic development, the SCO has for nearly 20 years sought to establish harmony among its members based on solidarity to “maintain international peace and security.
The priority goal of the SCO, under the SCO Charter, is to promote comprehensive and balanced economic growth, sustainable development in the region based on the equal partnership to improve the living conditions of the peoples of member states.
The current pace of the spread of coronavirus pneumonia is a serious blow to the economies of all countries around the world. Rising unemployment and poverty are even more threatening, even in advanced economies.
A report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals reported that 1.6 billion workers already face a 60% drop in income. Loss of income, lack of social protection, and rising prices mean that poverty now threatens even those whose economic situation was previously stable. According to experts, the number of people living below the poverty line could rise sharply, while World Bank analysts predict an increase of 150 million poor people in the world in 2020-21.
All SCO Member States have made significant progress in fighting poverty based on their national plans. For example, China, the most populous country in the world, has eliminated poverty in 2020, and thus the Chinese have entered the middle-income society. This means that China is 10 years early in implementing the first point of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. A report published on the UN website indicates that, according to the World Bank’s methodology, there are virtually no people in Russia who are classified as “absolutely poor. The country’s effective anti-poverty policy envisages at least halving the national poverty rate by 2024.
In this context, I would like to note that the SCO is also becoming a platform for the exchange of practices to eradicate poverty. This year Pakistan proposed to create within the Organization a special working group on combating poverty – the SCO Center of Excellence for Poverty Reduction, as well as the exchange of positive experiences and best practices in this area. In addition to that, Uzbekistan has initiated the creation of a meeting of heads of ministries and agencies responsible for fighting poverty and the adoption of the SCO program of cooperation in this sphere.
Bearing in mind that most poor people live in remote urban and rural areas, the SCO Summit on November 10 this year adopted a Concept of Cooperation of Member States in Developing Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Age, andthe action plan for implementation of the SCO Development Strategy 2025 was approved. Both documents are aimed at establishing cooperation in the sphere of fighting poverty and improving living standards in the SCO region.
In conclusion, I would like to note that modern technologies have made the world a much easier and more convenient place to meet, to communicate, to transfer funds, and to provide help to those in need. But the perfection of technical advancement means nothing when one lives an empty life in a closed world. Only by working together with a commitment,we can achieve truly meaningful results. And only by working in solidarity,we would be able to effectively address the global problems that arise.
In these difficult times, amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, political instability in different parts of the world, global poverty issues, climate disasters, terrorism, and other destructive factors that hinder good neighborliness and joint development, it is more important than ever to remember the reasons for establishing such significant dates as Human Solidarity Day.
The SCO countries are ready to make every effort to jointly confront emerging threats to stability in the region and the world. And we call on the international community to stand in solidarity in all its manifestations for sustainable development.
The writer is the SCO Secretary-General