A time for true solidarity

The unprecedented widespread transmission of the coronavirus throughout the world is threatening the lives and livelihoods of people in every country and from all walks of life. This underscores justhow inter-connected and inter-dependent the world is and in the fight to overcome this global pandemic, international cooperation is crucial. Multilateralism and solidarity are the cornerstone of our social democratic beliefs, andthe values and principles that unite us in our International call on us all to stand together at this crucial moment to overcome this global threat.

This is a time for true solidarity.  As we face this worldwide emergency, the immediate priority is to save lives, by ensuring that those who are most vulnerable to the illness are protected. We know that all our member parties in their respective countries are doing all they can to prevent and halt the spread of the virus, and to support the tireless efforts of health workers and all those in the medical profession who are in the front line of this battle.

The harsh economic consequences of the epidemic are causing a great deal of uncertainty and suffering. The full extent of the damage to the world economy caused by the spread of COVID-19 will not be known for some time, but governments need to act decisively to mitigate the economic hardship caused to many of the poorest in our societies, as well as migrants, refugees, and marginalised populations. The international community must also assist those in different parts of the world who lack the infrastructure and resources to combat the virus and treat those who become infected.

The coronavirus pandemic has, in a dramatic way, highlighted our position on the basic need for strong and efficient public health services as well as the right of all citizens to unhindered access to healthcare. It has equally underlined the fundamental role played by governments in providing for their citizens during a time of national emergency, and the value of robust and functioning public services at all times.

We have witnessed limitations on individual liberties in order to save lives, in the form of restrictive measures taken to limit the spread of the epidemic as well as the use of digital surveillance. While we recognise that such unprecedented measures are a tool to combat the pandemic, they need to be transparent, time-limited and accountable to democratic oversight, and must not be used as a pretext to undermine democratic institutions, freedom of information and the right to privacy.

These are challenging times for all, and ones that should give us a new perspective, knowledge and wisdom concerning our lives and societies. At a time when we are more than ever conscious of our common humanity we need to overcome conflict and work as one in solidarity with each other. As the UN Secretary General António Guterres stated only days ago, it is imperative that combatants in conflict put down their arms and join the fight against the common enemy – the coronavirus.

As social democrats, as an international movement, as parties and as individuals, we are all part of the efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time our political family stands firmly in solidarity with all its members, with those in government and those in opposition as they strive to ensure a swift, just and humane outcome to this crisis.