Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Pandemics and Security (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 2, 2020


Thank you so much, Minister, and thanks for beginning Germany’s UN Security Council Presidency by discussing this global pandemic that continues to impact our lives every day. This is such an important issue and we are very grateful that you’ve taken this on your first day of the presidency. We express sorrow for the deaths, illnesses, and other adverse consequences – including those affecting healthcare and humanitarian personnel – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General to provide counseling and support services to the United Nations personnel and their local and national partners involved in this urgent response effort.

As we have spent the last few months adapting our lives and working methods to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an opportune time to reflect on what we have learned, discuss the ongoing threat that health emergencies pose to international security, and discuss how we can fulfill our obligations to protect the most vulnerable communities.

Early on, President Trump rightly pointed out the unquestionable need for complete transparency and the timely sharing of public health data and information with the international community. Our recent experiences have only further underscored that important point. Timely age- and sex-disaggregated data collection and accurate, science-based analysis of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus also continue to be crucially important.

The United States continues to lead the world’s humanitarian and health assistance response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working directly with governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector, academia and research institutions, and other organizations responding on the ground to combat this virus in accordance with the International Health Regulations.

The United States is leveraging our long-standing investments and years of experience through the Global Health Security Agenda, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and numerous other initiatives to assist our partners in combating this pandemic, and to build sustained global health security capacity to better prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease threats.

The U.S. has already made available more than $1.3 billion in emergency health, humanitarian, and economic assistance to combat COVID-19, in addition to the funding we already provide to NGOs and international organizations. This assistance is part of more than $12 billion from the U.S. government to benefit the global response, including vaccine and therapeutics development, preparedness efforts, and humanitarian assistance. This is in addition to more than $170 billion in U.S. investments in global health and humanitarian assistance throughout the last decade. The U.S. global response to the pandemic is part of our All-of-America approach. In addition to the substantial U.S. Government assistance, the American people continue to show their generosity through private businesses, nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, and individual contributions. This has been a true priority for President Trump.

We also support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, while continuing to conduct legitimate counter-terrorism operations. We call on parties to conflicts to respect existing cease-fire agreements or to conclude new agreements that would help conflict-affected communities access crucial aid and take steps to protect themselves from the virus.

The international community must remain equally committed to maintaining our responses to ongoing humanitarian crises as well. This virus has not only claimed lives, but crippled economies and exacerbated already unbearable conditions for many around the world. The impact of this has been felt acutely by vulnerable and marginalized populations, and they are counting on each of us now more than ever.

We have also seen the crucial role that women have had in the COVID-19 response. Women make up more than half of the healthcare force globally, serving on front lines around the world as medical professionals, emergency workers, caregivers, and other essential personnel who are courageously stepping up and responding to the needs of those affected by this pandemic. We thank them for their work, and we are all indebted to them for their contributions.

Despite these contributions, the crisis has made a disproportionate social and economic impact on women and girls. In conflict areas where women and girls typically have limited access to health care facilities, those who contract the virus are especially susceptible to dire outcomes. Moreover, in contexts where women and girls are already at risk of violence, the necessary public health measures put in place to battle the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, self-quarantining, and stay-at-home orders, may further put them at risk of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence.

As part of our unprecedented humanitarian response to this pandemic, the Trump Administration proudly supports organizations that are responding to the increased risk of violence against women. Our increased efforts include programs such as Voices Against Violence: The Gender-Based Violence Global Initiative, which provides emergency assistance to survivors, and local civil society organizations. The United States also continues to support the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict to address violence against women globally throughout this crisis.

As we think about the future of pandemics and the impacts on international security, we must learn from our experiences here, and ensure protections are in place to account for at-risk groups. Together with the UN and other international partners, the Trump Administration will continue leading the fight against this virus during this very crucial time. We will do all we can to ensure a world safer, a world more secure from infectious disease threats, now and in the future, because it is our responsibility to do so. Together, we will recover stronger.

Thank you.