Working for peace during the COVID-19 pandemic: Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis takes part in an international videoconference on the challenges for peace and security

Bern, 19.05.2020 - Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), participated in a “webinar” videoconference with high-ranking representatives from the fields of peace policy and good offices to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on efforts to promote peace and security. Hosted by the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, the conference focused on current and future challenges and produced recommendations for further action.

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect conflict dynamics and related mediation processes? What does the current crisis mean for peace, security and democracy? On 19 May Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a videoconference to explore these questions with relevant actors in the field of peace policy.

Mr Cassis emphasised that Switzerland supports UN Secretary-General António Guterres' call for a global ceasefire. He also noted Switzerland's role in mediating ceasefires in Cameroon and Colombia. "Achieving peace always requires the physical presence of the parties involved," said Mr Cassis. That is why Swiss mediation experts are already busy preparing the ground for peace efforts after the COVID-19 crisis, added Mr Cassis. He also stressed that the full potential of communication technologies should be utilised for peace work.

The pandemic poses enormous challenges, especially for countries that lack the necessary government structures to cope with a global crisis of this magnitude, noted Mr Cassis. The impact on regions where various conflicts are already taking place is particularly serious. Possible lines of action on how to support countries in those regions during the pandemic were also discussed.

Besides Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the videoconference included two other high-ranking ministers who also play key roles in peace policy and mediation within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary Di Carlo and African Union Commissioner For Peace And Security Smail Chergui also took part in the conference.

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