May 18 – Today’s House of Lords debate on the international response to Covid 19 – including a call for an international inquiry into the genesis of a virus claiming hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world and doing incalculable damage to fragile societies and economies,



Today’s House of Lords debate on the international response to Covid 19

My Lords, in welcoming the Minister’s opening remarks, perhaps I might pursue some issues about which I have written to her, particularly about people facing Covid-19 without safety nets—in war zones, shanty towns, slums or refugee camps, or as one of an already persecuted minority. What is the international community saying about the stigmatisation and violence directed at Muslim minorities in India, who are blamed for the spread of the virus, or Christian and Hindu minorities in Pakistan, who are denied access to food packages?

In Nigeria, under the cover of Covid, terror groups such as Boko Haram have intensified the frequency of attacks. Are we getting help to victims, seeking to end the violence, and seeking to bring perpetrators to justice? In the many places without safety nets, what is our assessment of the likely impact of the inevitable world recession and hunger following Covid, and the reversal of development gains?

What of China, which has been increasing Africa’s indebtedness and dependency? With African countries accounting for more than a quarter of United Nations member states, this dependency and indebtedness has serious consequences for the conduct of international relations. It has emboldened China in resisting calls for an independent international inquiry into the causes of Covid-19 and into the role of the World Health Organization, as we have heard from many preceding speakers. What is the Government’s assessment of the extent of the WHO’s complicity with the Chinese regime, the extent of the Chinese regime’s influence over the WHO, and the prospects for reform of the WHO?

With 120 countries, including the UK, today at the assembly renewing the call for an independent inquiry, can the Minister tell us how the international community intends to take forward that proposal, establishing the genesis of a virus which is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world and doing incalculable damage to fragile societies and economies, and societies without any kind of safety net?

May 18th 2020