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Former UN Independent Expert calls for a World Conference on post-COVID-19 recovery

Guest content
07 May 2020

Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Professor Alfred de Zayas, urges civil society to demand a new social contract based on human dignity, social justice and sustainability. 

He calls on governments to significantly reduce military expenditures and give priority to the enhancement of human development and enforcement of human rights.

As documented in his detailed report to the UN Human Rights Council, reckless budgetary priorities have squandering resources in aggressive wars, military bases, the arms race, missiles and drones, while neglecting preparedness to tackle emergencies such as pandemics, hurricanes or volcanic eruptions.  The post-Covid world requires an orderly transition from the failed neo-liberal model that hitherto has served the 1%. We all need a  paradigm change oriented toward  sustainable development, social services and environmental safety.

There is a direct nexus between the looting of society by the military-industrial-financial complex and the underfunding of health infrastructures with the consequent unpreparedness to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Exorbitant military spending and the endemic boom-and-bust cycles of asocial capitalism have crippled  the capacity of societies to effectively address unexpected but foreseeable crises” Professor de Zayas said.

“It has become apparent that governments worldwide were unprepared for the health crisis and the attending economic, social and political fallout. Sanctions and financial blockades against a number of States have significantly reduced the capacity of these countries to combat the pandemic and have resulted in thousands of preventable deaths. The post-pandemic world must devote all efforts to building a system that enhances the resiliency of the world to tackle global crises based on international solidarity and social justice. Lawyers, economists and the media should join forces in designing this new order based on a gradual conversion of military-first budgets into human security budgets, and the creation of employment in sustainable industries.”

“I call upon the UN Secretary General to convene a World Conference on Post-COVID Recovery and demand a change of priorities away from war, market speculation and globalization fantasies. Tax evasion by oligarchs and transnational corporations, tax havens and other economic scams must be abolished and criminalized. The neo-colonialism of foreign debt and skewed IMF “loan conditionalities” must be abandoned. Today we have a historic opportunity to  reorient the economy towards the promotion of sustainable development and peace.“

Professor de Zayas urges the UN General Assembly to adopt the 2017 Draft Declaration on the Right to International Solidarity, presented to the UN Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur Virginia Dandan. See Annex to her Report to the Human Rights Council and Dandan’s report to the GA.


Professor de Zayas served as the first UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order (2012 – 2018), appointed by the Human Rights Council pursuant to resolution 18/6. He was mandated to identify obstacles to the realization of a democratic and equitable international order, study good practices worldwide and formulate concrete and pragmatic recommendations.

Original source: Alfred de Zaya's Human Rights Corner

Further resources: 

South Centre: The post-Covid world needs a new social contract, by Alfred de Zayas

Photo credit: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Filed under: 
Global governance