The leadership of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday agreed to endorse a call by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire, emphasizing that many conflicts continue to rage in the OSCE area even as countries struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres issued the call for a global ceasefire on 23 March, and since then, at least 70 UN Member States have endorsed it along with regional organizations and civil society groups. Some warring parties have also heeded the call to lay down weapons, including Saudi Arabia’s armed forces in Yemen and the ELN rebel group in Colombia.

“As the world grapples with containing the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing we need is armed conflict to complicate these efforts,” said OSCE PA President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia). “The OSCE area is impacted by several conflicts, including in the South Caucasus and eastern Ukraine. I urge all parties to heed the UN call for a ceasefire so that we can all focus on the common struggle today against COVID-19.”

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Bureau members raised concerns over recent attempts by members of armed factions in eastern Ukraine to block monitors from the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to travel towards non-government-controlled areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, citing COVID-19. They also stressed that the coronavirus crisis should not be exploited to curtail human rights and emphasized that the recent “elections” held in internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia were illegitimate and could aggravate the public health threat.