New Analysis of UN Systems During COVID-19 Reveals Dysfunction, Calls for Immediate Action

Report released by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Geneva, Switzerland (29 September 2020) – A new analysis of how the United Nations (UN) is functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed disrupted processes, an alarming lack of transparency and civil society participation, and levels of dysfunction that pose threats to international peace and security.

The findings are described in , a report released this week by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Examining the nature and impact of changes in UN systems and procedures as a result of the pandemic, the report focuses on UN activities related to disarmament, human rights, and the women, peace, and security agenda during the period of March to September 2020.  

Among the authors’ findings:

· The UN Security Council’s dysfunction has increased exponentially during the pandemic.
· In general, human rights forums have managed to adapt to online work while disarmament forums and processes have struggled, with many being postponed or cancelled.
· Virtual meetings have been mixed in terms of civil society participation; where civil society has been shut out, transparency and accountability have been eroded.

“This report makes clear what we have known for years: that the principles on which the UN was founded are not being upheld by some member states and that multilateralism is being severely undermined,” says Madeleine Rees, Secretary-General of WILPF.

“COVID-19 has exposed the failings of the system: its structure, its processes, and that the hegemony of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members undermines both peace and security,” she continues. “We need to not just ‘build back better,’ but to build back differently. Now is that time; our common humanity and the future of the planet depend on ‘We the People’ bringing back the fundamental principles and purpose of the UN: peace.”

Locked Out During Lockdown offers recommendations to ensure the preservation of participation, transparency, and multilateralism during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.