Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on COVID-19 (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 9, 2020


Thank you, José, and welcome to our new colleague from Tunisia, it’s nice to see you today.

I think that I need to first stress the importance its very clear that when I look on the screen, that all of the Perm-Reps are here today, that this tells the world the importance of today and the fact that the Secretary-General has worked so hard. And I know from personal experience, Secretary-General, that you have been on the phone no matter the time zone, no matter the place in the world, as a champion of everyone who doesn’t have a voice during this COVID-19, and your extraordinary efforts, I know, have made a huge difference in mitigating this virus in places that we probably will never travel to and may never meet them, but you have saved many lives and my debt of gratitude is to you. We want to wholeheartedly commend the numerous UN agencies that are playing a vital role in helping to respond to and combat the spread of COVID-19 these past few weeks.

By now, we all know this virus has no borders. This means we face a true global challenge. Beyond its impact on global health, COVID-19 is having a tremendous socioeconomic impact on the entire world. This means that addressing the challenge before us requires global action, international solidarity, and unity of purpose.

The United States reiterates today the need for complete transparency and the timely sharing of public health data and information within the international community. The most effective way to contain this pandemic is through accurate, science-based data collection and analysis of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus. We cannot stress enough how important these methods are.

The U.S. expresses profound sorrow at the deaths, illnesses, and other adverse consequences of this pandemic. We are deeply concerned about how the pandemic is affecting healthcare and humanitarian personnel around the world, and I want to offer my personal gratitude to those who are placing their own lives at risk on behalf of saving others. There is no greater act of service.

COVID-19 has taken more than just a physical toll on all our communities. We are already seeing the impact this pandemic is having, and will continue to have, on the ways we safely worship and observe our sacred holidays and customs. So many around the world have had to make sacrifices already, and this trend will unfortunately continue. We must take care to find ways for communities to worship and find solace during these dark times. And so, we also welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to provide counseling and support service to UN personnel and their local and national partners involved in this response.

Some of you may have already heard that Secretary Pompeo speak last week about what the U.S. is doing to respond to this crisis at home and abroad. I want to reiterate that the Trump Administration is working hard to bring thousands of Americans back home while simultaneously leading the world’s humanitarian and health response to the pandemic. All over the world, we are working directly with governments and local authorities, international organizations, NGOs, the private sector, and others responding on the ground to mitigate the spread and the long-term impacts of COVID-19. The United States has already made available nearly $500 million in international health and humanitarian aid to combat COVID-19 in over 64 countries and, going forward, we will put to work $2 billion more in foreign assistance to save lives.

However, while the generosity of the American taxpayers will make a crucial difference in the weeks and months ahead, I want to stress that the international community must remain equally committed to maintaining our financial responsibilities to existing humanitarian crises. These needs will not diminish because of this pandemic; in fact, they will only grow as the virus spreads. Vulnerable populations are counting on us, now more than ever.

We recognize the Secretary-General’s announcement of the UN-coordinated Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and we encourage all delegations to support the COVID-19 response. We also call on all parties to conflicts to refrain from arbitrarily withholding consent to humanitarian aid and services. Further, we call on them to take other appropriate measures to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian aid and services is not unduly hindered, in accordance with international law – particularly international humanitarian law. We are committed to using all available tools to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience. We are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the vulnerable developing and least developed countries, notably in Africa and small island states.

In days ahead, we must vigilantly watch the pandemic’s movements to anticipate the next hot zones and mitigate damage. And we especially need to quickly share the lessons learned and best practices employed by countries that have already dealt with this pandemic in a major way. Regions facing the pandemic for the first time, or that are at risk of seeing a resurgence, must be able to benefit from our collective wisdom. That is why successfully stopping the spread of this virus depends on the commitment from each one of us to work together in good faith. The eyes of the world are on each of us that are on this Council, and we must act to save lives. This is an awesome responsibility, and it is a responsibility that the United States will rise to meet.

Thank you.